J-P Wooding: Bangernomics leads to happy motoring

MOT time brings the annual anguish over whether to keep the old banger, says J-P
MOT time brings the annual anguish over whether to keep the old banger, says J-P

Last week the annual D-day took place for one of the cars in our household.

The day of reckoning approached; would the old girl pass again and rightly establish “Bangernomics” as the best choice in the varied avenues of car ownership?

Due to the age of our vehicles, the MOT test is always a will it/won’t it affair.

If they pass, it’s all good and we carry on driving the old-timers.

Should they fail and the bill proves higher than the car is worth, we face a difficult choice.

Gone are the days of a regular six-month service, consisting of oil and filter changes, spark plugs, rotor arms and distributor caps.

Modern vehicles these days run to tens of thousands between service requirements.

As a consequence, they should do much higher mileages and last longer.

However, it is important to use the correct oil during these intervals and by consulting your local independent accessory store you should be given advice which cannot be found in the supermarkets.

With these longer service plans, however, comes greater stresses and strains on the modern technologies used and when they need fixing, they cost as much as a cheap car in some instances.

A clutch change, with a dual-mass flywheel, could easily be £600; the cost of a perfectly useable car with 12 months MOT on it, so why bother?

If your car has been purchased on finance, you may not have a choice.

You may find yourself at a tipping point; you’ve spent out already on a couple of major repairs which may now see it to the end of its life.

Of course I’m sure there is something nice about owning and driving a new car but I think there’s an important difference between what is deemed a new and newer car.

In my opinion, and based on my experiences, anything between a few hundred pounds and perhaps several thousand pounds has a similar chance of breaking down.

Go for a new car with one monthly cost and it’s all covered, of course.

But this could cost more in three months than an entire, albeit older, car that you keep as your own at the end of the term; each to their own of course, there are many options.

Post 2001 cars have different road tax based on their emissions and many may use less fuel in general.

Except every driver is different in the routes driven and the style in which they drive, so take those manufacturers’ MPG figures with a pinch of salt.

Anyway, as I said, you’ll have paid what you saved in fuel and tax on the cost of the car; as road users we can’t win of course!

Our other vehicle will celebrate its 17th birthday this year.

Recently we contemplated getting something newer as we needed to spend some money on it; we had already paid for a new catalytic converter to be fitted, the cam belt was due to be changed and we needed a tow bar fitting, for a total of about £500, more than the car is worth, hence my predicament.

The result is this: for the cost of the above we will have an economical (for its size) useful car for the foreseeable future.

Given the mileage we do by the time the belt needs changing again, it will still only have about 125,000 miles on the clock, insignificant by today’s standards.

The old Laguna estate stays. As for the other car, a Fiat Punto with 114,000 miles under its belt, it passed the test without any repairs necessary.

Bangernomics wins again! Happy motoring!

Read more from J-P here.