There’s a saying about the benefit of hindsight, and it’s true. When things happen, we often look back and say “if only I had done this, or that…”. Motoring is no different really. Many people during the troubled economic years since the financial crash have decided to hold onto their vehicles than longer than ever before. New car sales are down and this means there are more older cars as a percentage on the roads than before. One can probably also assume that there may be a tendency to not cherish or look after an older car in many cases, when faced with financial challenges, as perhaps one would when more ‘flush’ in the wallet department. But of course, and this is where hindsight kicks in…would you rather pay for proper servicing now, or possible big repairs bills later?
So, regular car servicing is vital, and as cars age, the service requirements will change as well. i.e. when a car reaches 60k for many manufacturers, it is recommended to have various items looked at on your car that previously wouldn’t have been a consideration; i.e. consumables like clutches and cam belts.
But, cars do also sometimes let off various clues that all’s not well. We’ve previously mentioned in many of our social media posts that oil is the ‘blood’ of a car’s engine. If it’s thick and clogged up, it suggests either bad servicing previously, or an engine that is starting to wear. A top end knocking in the engine can sometimes mean a car has run low on oil, or oil isn’t reaching the parts it needs to quickly enough.
Squeaks in the suspension? This could just be brittle springs but it could also be broken springs, rusted components, or worn bump stops. Some of these parts are really cheap and easy to fix or repair, so don’t always assume a bump or knocking noise is terminal.
Exhaust smoke is another good one. Condensation when a car is first started for a while after a lay up is fine. But big puffs of smelly blue smoke can mean engine wear, valve stem seals, or something else wrong in your engine (blue smoke normally means issues related to oil).
Cosmetically, we have all probably been guilty of ignoring stonechips on a windscreen. But not only could this be a possible future MOT failure, it’s also now a weakness of the screen. A repair is again often very simple, and cheap, with many insurers actually offering free windscreen repairs or at least with a small excess that won’t affect your no claims.
And talking of windscreens…wipers are another perishable item…literally. After years of dragging themselves over a hard object, rubber wiper blades will eventually wear, or become brittle and start coming apart. Replacements are really affordable and easy to fit, with most car accessory stores offering fitment for a few pounds if you require.
Finally, perhaps one of the most common causes of failure in aging cars is clutch failure. The life of a clutch can vary massively depending on your driving style, and even where you live (city cars will wear their clutches quicker). There is often adjustment within a clutch pedal, so as a clutch pedal position changes, a reputable main dealer or garage can often ‘re-set’ the pedal correctly. But, there will come a point when there is little or no ‘bite’ left in the clutch, sometimes coinciding with bad gear changes and over-revving (a slipping clutch) and possibly even a smell. If you recognise these symptoms, it’s again possibly speaking with your dealer before you’re stuck on the hard shoulder somewhere!