The expense of keeping a car on the road

An AI generated image of a car being worked on by models of ancient Greek workers outside a Greek temple.

I write this at the weekend, after picking my car up from our local garage for the fourth time in as many months for repairs.

We’ve had our current car for almost five years, and it was seven years old when we got it. In that time, we’ve probably spent more money on repairs and servicing than we did buying it.

Its most recent visit was to replace two of the coil springs from the suspension, which failed in quick succession. The first went on the way back from Sci-Fi Weekender in Great Yarmouth on Sunday, and the second after going over a road hump on Wednesday. This resulted in a low grinding noise which prompted a call to our local garage.

Before that, we had both rear suspension arms and brake pads replaced, a new parking sensor, and a new wing mirror. My car has motorised wing mirrors which automatically tuck themselves in when the car is locked, but the motor seized up on one, and they’re sealed units, the whole wing mirror needed replacing.

I’m fortunate that there’s a good, independent garage within walking distance of home, that has been able to do all of these repairs. That means I can drop the car off in the morning, and then work from home. Having to fork out hundreds of pounds for car repairs, is even less fun when you also have to use a day of annual leave from work for it.

Earlier repairs have included replacement body work, a new timing belt, new front suspension, and the usual replacement tyres. I wouldn’t go so far as saying my car resembles the Ship of Theseus, but it’s certainly had a lot of work done on it over the years, and many parts are no longer original.

Whilst I would be tempted to cut our losses and get a new car, to get something similar in age and size to ours at time of purchase would set us back at least £7000. We just don’t have that kind of money right now, nor would we want to take on more debt to buy one. And I would rather keep this going until we can replace it with a used hybrid or battery electric model. Or somehow come into enough money to buy a new car outright.