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Car Purchase 1 - Motoring 2012

Not only have the petrol-prices changed over the years, other changes have also taken place. E.g., whoever has recently had to sell his loyal vehicle, would not have been able to hide his astonishment at just how much the price of used-cars has fallen. This was once valid as a typical American phenomena, where probably only after the first five years, were there differences in the exchange lists of used-cars. At the latest, after eight years, a vehicle had only scrap-yard value, regardless of how much it once cost.

If this decay in value in the USA was coupled with the mediocre manufacturing standard, in Europe we could assume exactly the opposite, the cars lasted longer and were more solidly built. There is hardly an evaluator of used-cars, who still bothers to look for rust under the car. Mostly it suffices to inspect the easy to reach lower door edges.

Although this behaviour should at least be criticised as being careless, apparently the thought behind it is that, in 10 to 15 year old cars there isn't really any rusting through any more, which seems to be compounded by the, in the meantime, widespread guarantee against rusting through. The examination of the drive-train is also limited to listening for noises and opening the bonnet. Any serious engine damage no longer seems to be probable.

Yes, our cars obviously do seem to have become better. One can observe this with classic car fans, who think it's a good idea to have water, oil and a small collection of spare parts handy. Unnecessary for the cars of today, where even a clutch can achieve the same longevity as an engine itself. The competition between timing chain and timing belt has proved to be an advantage for the consumer. In the meantime, both can reach 150.000 to 300.000 kms without having to be replaced.

Indeed, the spare parts have become distinctly more expensive. One can only be amazed at what the price of even a set of gaskets is nowadays. Blessed is he, who has chosen an approved, long-life product and has not been tempted by the fun factor. However, in this context, e.g., even 15 years for the material roof of a convertible is not at all rare. If then, the newest generation of Diesel engines stipulates an expensive low-ash oil, one does have the consolation of only having to change it (have it changed) every 30.000 kms.

A small shadow is being cast over this, otherwise perfect record, by those marques which don't feature a replacement-free exhaust gas decontamination. In this case, the new car buyers should bear this in mind because the prescribed particle-filter replacement can easily mean a bill of up to 1000, whereby other marques, without a care, carry on way past these stopping points. Also the approx. 15000 km. per year (with only little short-distance driving), and often heard of, two year inspection intervals are not found all over the place.

Thus it's quite possible, that the apparently reasonable new-car price, can be more than cancelled out by, in comparison with the competition, numerous workshop visits. Indeed, those who are counting on the expected, low maintenance requirements of electric cars must take note, that e.g., the recently presented Renault Twizy, despite a very unlikely higher amount of kilometers yearly, must go for an inspection once a year. It is also hardly imaginable, that the buyer of a luxury saloon, which has a greater service incidence because of the automatic transmission, would rather choose one with a manual gearbox. That would be a ridiculous miscalculation, for which he would probably be severly punished when reselling.

Up to now, the question posed in the beginning hasn't been answered. If then our cars have, without a doubt, become so much better, their depreciation should actually be lower. Of course, the manufacturers are quite happy with this trend. In the meantime the depreciation of luxury cars has risen so rapidly, that they can almost only be ordered as company cars. Without the support of the income tax office, some luxury car manufacturers would probably have gone down a long time ago.

In any event, the fact is, the prices of more expensive cars has roughly doubled in the last 25 years. Whereby, it's not the basic price that is meant but the ever increasing list of extras and this, despite the numerous model-variations. However, not only have these cars in particular, become longer-lasting, the fuel saving efforts here have really been successful. If, for quite a while now, the S-Class (Mercedes) can be had with a four cylinder engine, which doesn't have to be ashamed of it's torque, then we must establish, that it's consumption has indeed, been reduced by half.

Previously, guarantee- and particularly goodwill cases were often the cause of angry disputes. With the present trend towards lifelong mobility guarantees, the problems seem to have been put into a different perspective. Thereby, at the same time, the manufacturer creates an added value for his own workshops, because this pledge of almost gratis assistance, is only valid from one inspection until the next. This way, one could possibly pull the plug out on the various breakdown services and also the free-workshops.

Fo those who believe that if a service interval hasn't been adhered to for a longer period, that the mobility guarantee falls away, they stand corrected by, e.g., VW. Through renewed visiting of the workshop, one can once again, be admitted back into the circle of those who qualify. You can't get much smarter than that! The only drawback is, the vehicle will probably be gone over with a fine-tooth comb. This could be regretted by those who have the expenses in mind. Indeed, as far as the safety factor is concerned it is an advantage.

The moral of the story is: If the cars lose their value shortly after being registered, one can only recommend that they are bought only then. It's a pity that one cannot then choose the fittings freely. However, damages caused by incorrect running-in procedures (if this is still carried out), are not to be expected. When buying from a private person, one can even meet up with the seller. The second bit of advice: Drive the car for as long as possible and don't always keep an eye on the newest models. ... 07/12

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