Ouch! Depreciation Pains

The unwelcome news that the cost of running a car has risen by an average of £539 in the past year, despite a dip in petrol prices, will concern many motorists - especially those on a budget.

The IAM has responded to the RAC report with a new checklist - tips to help tackle the worst excesses of depreciation. Depreciation is the biggest single motoring expense, accounting for £2,420 on average in 2006 - a 22 per cent increase over last year's figure (£1,987).

Like ageing, there is only so much you can do to prevent the visible excesses of depreciation - but these tips could mean a slighter softer landing when the time comes to change your car.

1. Avoid all crashes (great and small). 

Nothing puts off a would-be buyer like damaged bodywork.  A major crash, of course, could mean that depreciation is the last thing on your mind as you lie in casualty.  But even minor crashes, the bumps and scrapes that reduce the car's value so visibly, are expensive.  Consider an advanced driving course, which helps you park your vehicle to reduce the risk of accidental damage and raises hazard awareness generally.  More than 90 per cent of crashes are a direct result of driver error.

2. Don't buy new. 

The worst depreciation "hit" is within the first few days when you drive out of the showroom.  If you are prepared to buy a car that is already a year old, has had its first dealer service but is still covered by a warranty, you are on the road to making a major saving.  Not only do you pay less now, later on your vehicle is worth proportionately more (compared to the "brand new" price) when you trade in.

3. No chips, please .

Following a gritter lorry too closely will do little for the car's bodywork.  Wheels should not be scuffed if you are careful and tar marks need to be removed promptly, as do bird droppings.

4. A clean car is a safe car. 

Buyers love a clean machine and the easiest way to keep it sparkling is to regularly wash it.  Good clean mirrors (internal and external) make driving less tiring, as do windscreens (front and rear).

5. Be mean with your mileage.  

Short journeys are the most polluting and cause a disproportionate wear and tear on the car's engine.  Start to get into the habit of asking yourself if every journey every day has to be done in your car: car sharing, public transport, cycling or walking are cheaper alternatives.  As well as doing your bit for the environment, you are saving fuel costs and keeping your car's mileage lower.  Local journeys may be short, but they are frequent: they all add mileage to the clock.  And for best trade in price (and easier selling generally) you want as low a mileage as possible.

31 October 2006 Staff

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