Running an older car can be a great way of motoring on a budget. Scouting the newspaper classifieds and car sales web sites can often land a bargain and most garage forecourts will have some trade in cars at a keen price. With an older car, the costs of buying the vehicle and insuring it are likely to be less, but the obvious downside is the likely lack of manufacturer’s warranty and potential for large repair bills. There is always the danger of an unforeseen breakdown, but there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risks and keep your car running like new.
Finding a garage or local mechanic
If you’re not confident with even basic maintenance tasks, never mind the intricacies of a car engine, it makes sense to find a good mechanic and stick to him. Most small businesses like these depend on repeat custom, and if your mechanic knows you’re a long term customer, he’s likely to give you a better deal. A main franchise dealer will be considerably more expensive, so a better bet is to find a local garage. Asking friends or colleagues for a recommendation is an excellent way of finding someone reliable. Or try an Internet search for mechanics in your area, perhaps mentioning the type of car. Internet forums a rich source of local information.
Rolling your sleeves up
Complex jobs on a car engine are probably best left to the mechanic, but if you’re comfortable with opening the bonnet up, you can save money by doing basic maintenance yourself. Electrical failure, especially battery failure, is still the most common cause of breakdown, so make sure your fan belt is tight, your battery is serviceable, and clean and protect connections from damp with a spray oil. Similarly, check and replace spark plugs and clean distributor cap, protecting with the oil. A workshop manual for your model of car will be a great help here. Make sure your oil, fluids and coolant systems are topped up and you’re on the road to keeping your old car running like new.
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