More than 40% of local drivers keep their cars for between five and ten years. Picture: SUPPLIED
More than 40% of local drivers keep their cars for between five and ten years. Picture: SUPPLIED

More than 90% of South Africans say they are keeping their vehicles for longer due to the current economy, with just over 40% saying they are keeping their cars for between five and 10 years.

These are among the findings in the Automobile Association’s (AA) latest research conducted earlier this year entitled “Going Further”.

“The purpose of the research was to determine if current economic factors are playing a role in vehicle ownership. 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 life span for a vehicle,” says the AA.

Apart from economic reasons, more than 35% of respondents say they are also keeping their vehicles longer because newer models are more reliable. According to the data, more than 25% 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,” notes the AA.

THESE RESULTS CONFIRM TOO MANY PEOPLE ARE RELYING ON THEIR CAR TO NEVER BREAK DOWN

Another interesting finding is that just under 50% of owners say they pay out of pocket for maintenance costs, with only about 20% saying they have maintenance plans for their vehicles. About 20% of owners say they actively save and plan for maintenance while about 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,” says David Chard, MD of AA Warranties.

Chard explains 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 says there are some important steps vehicle owners must take to keep their vehicles running for longer. These include:

  • Avoid excessive acceleration, turning and braking
  • Avoid overrevving 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 (eg 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 wellbeing is part of being a responsible car owner
  • Consider a mechanical warranty to provide "medical aid" cover for your vehicle.

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