Why South Africans are keeping their cars for longer

Insurer unpacks why it’s vital for older cars to be maintained and to keep them safe and roadworthy.

Tough economic conditions mean South African motorists are keeping their cars for longer – but that means it’s more important than ever that you keep your vehicle well maintained and appropriately insured, advised insurer King Price.

According to King Price’s client experience partner Wynand van Vuuren, research by the Automobile Association in 2020 showed that more than 90% of South Africans are keeping their vehicles for longer with four out of 10 motorists keeping their cars for between five and 10 years. TransUnion’s Vehicle Pricing Index for the first quarter of 2023 also showed new car sales declined by 2.6% and used car sales by 17.7%, suggesting more consumers are staying out of the market right now.

“While older cars are cheaper to insure as a rule, it’s vital that they are kept well maintained to keep them safe and roadworthy. An older car will probably no longer be covered under a service plan or the manufacturer’s warranty. That’s why we always advise that you should take out a separate warranty cover. But having a warranty isn’t a replacement for servicing your car as you’re supposed to: you must still get your regular services done,” said Wynand.

Here are his top four reasons to keep your car well-maintained:

• Keep yourself (and others) safe
Poorly maintained and unroadworthy vehicles are a major cause of accidents on South Africa’s roads. Accidents happen when brakes fail or tyres are smooth, while cracked windscreens and mirrors, faulty lights and indicators and worn suspension can all increase the likelihood of accidents and collisions.

“By the same token, well-maintained cars generally offer better traction, greater reliability and less chance of breakdowns, more stable steering, and a smoother, safer ride,” added Wynand.

• Save yourself money
Regular maintenance often prevents bigger issues from arising down the line. You may think you’re saving money by skipping a service, but you could be contributing to more costly problems later. And, of course, a well-maintained vehicle means you use less fuel, which means less pain at the petrol pump.

• Keep your car value high
When you do plan to finally sell or trade your vehicle, you’ll be glad you kept it maintained. A comprehensive service history is a major selling point for many car buyers, and a dealer will pay far more for a vehicle that’s in good condition and has been well-maintained.

• Make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong
“The simple truth is that it’s a condition of cover that your car is always in a roadworthy condition,” said Wynand. So, it pays to make sure that your car is always in tip-top shape.

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