A large majority (90%) of South Africans say they are keeping their vehicles for longer due to the current economy, with as many as 40% saying they now keep their cars for between five and 10 years.
This is according to new research published by the Automobile Association (AA) which looked at how current economic factors are playing a role in vehicle ownership in the country, and underlines the current plight within the automobile industry.
“The findings confirm anecdotal evidence that cars are being kept for longer. Just under 35% of people say they are keeping their vehicles for longer than 10 years, which is a long lifespan for a vehicle,” the AA said.
Apart from economic reasons, more than 35% of respondents said they keep their vehicles for longer because newer models have become reliable. According to the data, more than a quarter of primary vehicles are older than five years, and more than 30% are older than 10 years.
“These results point to the increased need for better maintenance of vehicles, and for proper insurance. While our results indicate that more than 60% of the respondents have insurance, national data points to a much lower rate of 35% insurance.
“If this is indeed the case, there is a cause for concern, as insurance is part of a good maintenance plan for any car,” said the AA.
The AA’s research also shows that just under half of owners say they pay out of pocket for maintenance costs, with only around 20% saying they have maintenance plans for their vehicles.
About 20% of owners say they actively save and plan for maintenance while around 5% say they don’t plan financially at all for maintenance expenses.
“These results confirm that too many people are relying on their car to never break down and, when it does, they would rather pay out of pocket than have a financial plan – such as a paid maintenance plan – in place. Having a maintenance plan, or service plan – even one which is not sourced from the original dealer – is easy to obtain and budget-friendly,” said David Chard, MD of AA Warranties.
Chard said that a service or maintenance plan is, effectively, a savings plan for when problems arise, and is geared solely for the proper maintenance of a vehicle.
He said there are some important steps vehicle owners must take to keep their vehicles running for longer, including:
- If you are starting a vehicle from cold, allow it to idle for five minutes for the oil to circulate;
- Avoid excessive acceleration, turning and braking;
- Avoid over-revving your vehicle;
- Attend to warning lights immediately; don’t think these will go away in time, they may indicate serious issues;
- Regularly check tyre pressure. Do this when you stop to refuel. Also check your oil when refuelling;
- Check wheel alignment and balancing every six months, especially after extensive travel;
- Replace serviceable items (e.g. brake pads, fan belts) according to the service schedule of your vehicle;
- Request the parts which were replaced during a service to ensure they were in fact replaced;
- Stick to the servicing schedule of your vehicle; being proactive about your vehicle’s well-being is part of being a responsible car owner;
- Consider a mechanical warranty to provide ‘medical aid’ cover for your vehicle.