paid partnership with Scuderia Car Parts
Think about it – if you pass your driving test at the age of 17, and continue driving until you’re 80, you’ll spend 63 years behind the wheel. That’s a long time to be driving a number of cars; and of course, unless you’re buying a brand new car every couple of years then it’s very likely you’ll need to be replacing some expensive parts.
Research has shown recently that on the average lifespan and cost of these parts you will have to fork out approximately £30,287 to have the most expensive components replaced throughout your motoring years. We’re not talking new tyres here. We’re talking integral physical parts which are essential to the running (or the non-seizing-up-ability!) of your car.
(Although with a ban on new diesel and petrol cars from 2040, I’m guessing some of these are going to change dramatically during the rest of our driving lives)
I’ve actually owned my car for 12 years now – it runs just fine and carries us to France every year with no drama. But. I probably* don’t look after it as well as I should do. Over the last few years I’ve had more than my fair share of car drama – which I’m willing to share the shame of just to help you make better choices.
I think we’ve all been there, you climb in, turn the key… and there’s no happy engine purr, there is just that sad and empty little click.
Sometimes it just needs a jump start because the kids left the interior light on and you didn’t notice (no, that certainly hasn’t happened to me. Three times. Inside 18mths. Which the nice AA man remembered. And pointed out…).
But sometimes it needs replacing – particularly if it’s getting old, or you’re using your car for very short trips which don’t charge the battery up.
A good rule of thumb is to replace the battery every four to five years.
I had a single headlight blow once while on my way to collect my son from an after-school club. It was dark out, I had 7 miles to go each way, and honestly, it was a pretty scary trip. I couldn’t decide whether to go the main road way (lots more traffic & risk) or the back lanes (less traffic, but less visibility on narrow country lanes). And a broken brake light can easily cause an accident; don’t ignore them and think ‘well I’ve got one the other side’. It’s a good idea to have someone walk around the car as you put all your lights through the paces every now and then.
Last summer I was taking my kids shopping – thankfully I’d chosen the back way through the quiet lanes. As I slowed into a passing space to allow a larger car to pass my brakes suddenly failed. I heard a clattering sound underneath the car and I rolled to a stop (I actually break into a cold sweat when I think about this and what could have happened – if I’d been bowling down the dual carriageway at 60mph and slowing for the roundabout, for example….)
Mr LittleStuff came and collected the family, and I waited to be rescued by the AA man – who clucked his tongue and commented how worn your brakes have to be before they physically drop out. He towed me to our local garage, where our lovely mechanic gaped in horror at me and asked if I knew just how worn your brakes have to be for them to just drop out…
Get your brakes checked.
That little lack of care cost me mightily in my bank balance – and could have cost me SO much more.
It’s easy to suffer small chips and cracks in your windscreen – and frustratingly on this one there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, nor is it ever your own fault. We gained a small crack thanks to a fast-moving lorry on a French motorway, and watched it like a hawk for the rest of the 2-day journey home, making sure it didn’t spread any further!
Thanks fully small chips and cracks are easily repaired without the need of a whole new screen – but bigger ones do need dealing with as soon as possible.
So here’s a weird thing. Remember the brakes story? Same road, same car – a year earlier I had been driving down that same lane, when a loud clonking occurred, swiftly followed by the most horrific scrapey noise.
I stopped, checked beneath the car, and there was my exhaust pipe lying half on the road. Yeah, that’s not good!
A new exhaust isn’t cheap (even more if you you’re replacing an exhaust for a high end sports car!) – get your mechanic to take a peek whenever they’re servicing your car, and see if you can replace any necessary parts before they physically drop off. That’s apparently never a good thing. *sigh*
This one’s an easy one – if you’ve got difficulty starting your vehicle, slow acceleration, or your engine simply sounds rough and misfiring then it’s time for new spark plugs. This one’s actually pretty easy to do yourself, and not too costly, either!
That comforting blip and indicator flash as you head towards your car with your arms laden with shopping is a small flash of actual magic from your key to those of us old enough to remember the old days of juggling the key-in-the-lock with your bags in the rain.
But here’s a tip – don’t ignore it when it starts to get tricky to open the locks. When you find yourself repeatedly pushing the button while waving the key closer and closer at the car, it’s definitely time to get the battery changed. Keep ignoring it and you might find yourself fruitlessly flapping your key at a silently resistant car, alternately begging it to let you in and cursing and kicking the tyre.
It’ a quick cheap fix, and it’ll save you a lot of hassle. Trust me. *cough*