Looking after a used car
How to keep your car in good condition
We’re always looking to help our customers as much as possible, whether it’s advice on the best car to suit their needs, advice on what to do if something goes wrong or even what your rights are legally.
We had a chat with our Customer Experience team to ask them their advice when it comes to keeping your car in top condition and avoiding costly repairs.
The first thing to note is that you’ve financed a used car. That means it is likely you will need to pay for a few repairs or maintenance over the years you will own it. The best way to think about it is like you’re renting a house, you’ll need to paint, decorate or fix a couple of things throughout your time living there. Remember, you’ve bought a car that has a history so this needs to be considered, not just the mileage you’ve put on it.
If you’ve not yet bought your car then our biggest advice is that you consider all factors, age, mileage and try out everything in your car, you don’t want a surprise 3 months down the line that your convertible roof doesn’t work!
Expected costs of a used car
Below we’ve listed some of the most common issues or replacements that will occur with older vehicles. These class as standard ‘wear and tear’ and are to be expected at some point with older cars.
The older your car the more your clutch will have been used. That means you should anticipate that this will need replacing at some point – this may not be during your ownership as it depends on driving style and how it has been used.
Similarly to a clutch, these are something that ares going to be used a lot and will wear down with age.
We all know household bulbs don’t last forever, it’s the same with cars. Sooner or later you’ll need to replace some of your bulbs.
Another small change that could make a big difference. After several years you will need to replace these just to get a streak free wipe and ensure you’re able to see if it rains.
This is something that is highly dependent on driving style, you may never experience issues with it but, as you have an older car, you might have an issue. If previous owners have sped over speed bumps or gone over a ditch or two then it’s going to wear out more than somebody who drives like Miss Daisy.
How to minimise issues with your used car:
Unfortunately having minor costs should be an expectation of buying a used car but as always there are ways you can reduce potential costs. We’ve listed some of the advice that our Customer Experience team have given to customers over the years.
Get regular MOTs and services
Although a service is not required by law it is advisable that you do one every year as it contains extra checks to keep your vehicle in top condition. A service will check things like your brakes, suspension or lights and flag up things which are likely to go wrong or need replacing, this could give you time to save up for a replacement rather than unexpectedly need to take it into a garage. An MOT will simply state your car is OK to drive, there are no checks on individual elements or parts so by the time it needs fixing it could be too late.
Top up your liquids
By far one of the biggest issues our Customer Experience team deals with is the lack of liquids in a vehicle. Whether it’s oil, water, antifreeze or coolant there are certain things which need to be monitored regularly and it’s your responsibility to top them up. All of the liquids that are required in your car are available to purchase at a local garage or even in supermarkets and will cost a couple of quid.
As soon as you get your car you should do a once over and check the levels of all liquids and top them up where necessary. If you don’t do that much driving you probably won’t have to touch anything between MOTs or services. If you do a good bit of distance, however, it is recommended you check it frequently (once per month or before every big journey).
Make sure you drive enough
If you speak with one of our underwriters (the people who approve or reject finance applications) they’ll ask you how many miles you drive day to day. The reason they ask this is to find out if you should be buying a diesel car or not. Although we won’t turn an application down based on a petrol versus diesel we will offer some strong advice that you need to do a lot of motorway driving in order to justify getting a diesel. Nether the less we do find that a high proportion of the issues our customers face are with DPFs (Diesel Particulate Filter) where the customer has a diesel car but only does city driving or uses it for 5 miles per day. When you have a DPF issue your car will omit black smoke and will eventually stop working or cost you thousands of pounds to replace. If you’ve got a diesel you need to make sure you drive long journeys often, otherwise the dirt and soot created by your engine won’t be filtered and will cause you issues.
Don’t ignore warning lights
We once heard from a customer who had smoke pouring out of his bonnet. After a quick discussion we found out that he had warning lights on the car for three weeks but had simply ignored them as he didn’t understand them. We strongly advise against this.
Warning lights are in cars for a reason: to warn you of potential issues. If you ignore them they will grow bigger and could become the reason your car becomes unusable. If you see a warning light take it into a garage immediately and seek advice.
Inflate or replace your tyres
It may not be that obvious by looking at your tyres but they could be flat or low on air. You’ll only know how much is in the tyre by checking them (you can usually find a pump at petrol stations). You’ll find a list of the minimum and maximum tyre pressure for your vehicle at the station, online or on the side of your tyres. You need to make sure all your tyres are of equal pressure to feel the benefit.
Make sure that the tread depth of your tyres is something you check regularly. As you’ve got a used car they could be below or close to the minimum legal value (1.6mm). Keeping your tyres in good condition will benefit you massively, especially with fuel consumption. You’ll feel the difference when you’re driving and you will also have more traction, making it safer to drive.
When you buy a car, whether new or used, you take on a good bit of responsibility. You will need money to spend on it every now and again to avoid bigger issues later on and keep it running as it should.
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