We drive a small car – a Vauxhall ‘sensible’, as my husband terms it. Yesterday, I took it in for repair. I anticipated a bill for £400+. The repair cost me nothing. What a win!
Going back in time…. We tend to buy new cars and then hold on to them for about 10 years. We generally pay cash, unless there is an interest free loan. In that case we invest the lump sum, get the return, while paying the ‘free’ car loan for 3 years. This policy has served us well. I know this is not a recommended strategy by bloggers such as Mr Money Mustache or J Money. However it suits us.
We don’t drive very much. We sold our last car, with 55,000 miles on the clock at just over 9 years old. Our current one has 22,000 miles and it is 3.5 years old. So our annual mileage is about 6,000. The only reason we sold our previous car, was because it suddenly needed a lot of work and wasn’t performing well (Diesel cars don’t like doing a low mileage as they get older. Ours was certainly very choked up) We had spent £2,000 on repairs over a couple of months, the car had spent weeks in the garage, and it was only worth £1,000…. Suddenly it had reached the stage where it was no longer worth throwing more money at it. Unlike many of my fellow money bloggers, when it comes to car engines, we do not choose to do it ourselves. My engineer husband probably could, but as cars get more and more electronic, everything has got more complex. So safety first!
Hence we started the research, and the trot round all the local garages. Edinburgh has many! Over the years our cars are getting smaller. We no longer need 7 seats and loads of luggage space. Our family is grown up and away. We still wanted flexibility, so a hatchback with fold-down rear seats was a must. But apart from that, we were going for a basic, standard, functional car but comfortable enough for long journeys, as most of our miles are accumulated on 800 mile return journeys to see family. Parking sensors were my key preference!! Petrol engine rather than diesel. After that we were shopping by price. But why new?
We have in the past bought cars around 3 years old, but we haven’t had great experiences. (with significant bills!) This way, we know we drive it gently, look after it and maintain it well. Sometimes it works though. In the days when we had 2 cars, I bought a 5 year old car from a friend (who had the same ethos). I drove it for 5 years, then knowing we no longer needed 2 cars, I passed it on to my son. That same car, went to him and his wife for a year. They then inherited a ‘better’ car from his wife’s parents, so I took the car back and passed it on within my family to a cousin (for free) who was having a bit of a hard time. Her Mum insisted on giving me £200 for it, but that wasn’t necessary. Try handing the money back, though – it just doesn’t work! ( A different challenge – how to return it? Through her grandchildren would appear to be the answer!)
We bought our current car in October 2013. It was a special offer, what is known in the UK as pre-registered, so technically we are the second owners, but as it had 9 miles on the clock, that isn’t too much of a problem. We also got a great reduction. So much so, that this car cost less than its predecessor did 9 years previously. Same make / model, but this time we went for a smaller petrol engine rather than a diesel one. We took a 5 year service package, which means our service is prepaid until 2018. It also came with an extended warranty, which we hadn’t fully appreciated at the time. We thought it covered for rust, but no, it covered all mechanical parts, for 6 years or 100,000 miles whichever comes sooner.
So Fast Forward …
Yesterdays visit to the garage was fully covered under the extended warranty. How good was that? Not only did they repair the fault (ignition coil), they fixed the rear window washer and did a mandatory repair on the seat belts. Not to mention, washing and valeting the car – all free. See above – sparkling car! (Sadly not the way I normally keep it…)
So thank you. Peter Vardy, Seafield, Edinburgh. your service is fantastic!