Co-op Insurance has revealed that British motorists are quite literally in it for the long haul.

When it comes to their cars, motorists seem to be keeping cars on the road longer. With the cost of living crisis, it is likely that such trends are going to increase.

Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reveal that over nine million vehicles have over 100,000 miles on the clock. This equates to nearly a quarter of the 40 million  vehicles currently driving on the roads of Britain.

Ageing process

Data from Co-op insurance also shows that the average age of cars is increasing too.  In 2018, 10% of all policies were for cars up to two years old. However, today that figure has reduced to just 4% in the first three months of this year.

At the other end of the scale, in 2018 cars aged between six and 10 years old accounted for seven out of ten policies.  This figure has risen to eight out of ten for Q1 in 2022.

Rising costs

As the cost of living – and fuel – continues to rise, this may come as little surprise. People are less keen to spend money on a brand-new car and are more inclined to keep their existing motor on the road for longer. And while the buying of electric vehicles would reduce running costs, the initial outlay is high.

This phenomenon is fuelling a buoyant second-hand vehicle market which grew 11.5% from 2020 to 2021. While electric vehicles are beginning to filter down to the second-hand market, numbers remain low and demand very high.

New car sales are also being hampered by the semi-conductor shortage. This has reduced the number of new car available. In fact, VW announced this week that it is completely out of stock .

With China suffering extreme lockdowns to reduce the spread of Covid, it also means supplies are struggling. Many parts are made in China, especially semi-conductors, batteries and other electronic and computer parts. All these are essential in the production of new cars.

With some of the worlds largest ports effectively closed, global supplies are stuck in transit. China is home to seven of the world’s top ten container ports, including Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong.

New trends

’It looks like Brits are taking a ‘mend and make-do’ approach to car ownership,” states Paul Evans, head of motor at Co-op Insurance. “The cost of living, and running a car, continues to rocket. Whilst we know that parts, availability issues and the pandemic, amongst other factors, have hit the new car market badly, many people just aren’t in a position to splash unnecessary cash on a brand-new vehicle. Instead it makes more financial sense to keep their existing car going for as long as possible, or to buy a used car.”

 Paul wants to make sure that people look after their higher mileage cars effectively.  “100,000 miles does make for a lot of wear and tear” he says.

“It’s essential that your vehicle receives regular servicing and maintenance to prevent it developing problems that become very expensive to fix. With the right care there’s no reason as to why such cars can’t be relied upon for many more miles. And with the value of second-hand vehicles shooting up, there’s a real incentive for owners to look after them”. 

 Top five tips for maintaining a second-hand car:

  • Know your vehicle. Read and understand the owner’s manual to learn about the various features of your vehicle and how to avoid any common problems. Examine the service logbook and familiarise its history to pre-empt problems.
  • Adhere to a maintenance schedule. Show due care and attention, ensuring  regular servicing and MOT checks. One of the main reasons why second-hand vehicle owners encounter problems is because they forget to maintain it properly. Wear and tear issues addressed in good time won’t turn into more expensive problems.
  • Check your tyres regularly. Tyres are subject to heavy wear and tear.  Maintain proper alignment by switching or rotating tyres every few months. Be sure to check air pressure, particularly if setting off on a longer journey.
  • Change oil and other fluids regularly. Oil plays a crucial role in ensuring a healthy engine. Adhere to the manufacturer’s schedule for oil changes. Other fluids that should also be checked regularly: engine coolant, brake fluid, windscreen washer fluid and power steering fluid.
  • Keep it clean. Clean the interior and exterior with regular washes, waxes, and vacuuming. This will help protect the bodywork by ensuring dirt and debris are kept at bay.