Friday, 2 October 2009

Bangernomics Guest Blog Part 2, by James Ruppert

Bangernomics cars are not Bangers 
Basically bangers are a lot better than they used to be. Cars built in the last decade or so are tough, reliable and right now cheaper than ever. Automotive downshifting has never been less painful or more financially sensible. Used cars have never been cheaper. In the last few years the fall in new car prices, cheap finance and a culture of increasingly rapid automotive obsolescence has meant that cars past their fifth birthday now cost marginal amounts of money. 

The Perfect Banger
Defining a banger is getting harder, but ideally it should be any used car that you can afford to buy and run on your budget. No loans, you own it outright and live within your automotive means. The ideal Bangernomics vehicle will be simple, possibly a little dull, but never down and out. Go for popular makes like Ford, Vauxhall and Rover because parts will be easy to find and cheap. Even better find an old Nissan, Toyota or Mazda that won’t ever breakdown. Four door saloons are cheaper than more practical hatchbacks. Don't be fussy about colour, white, non-metallic greens or browns are always going to be less popular and therefore cheaper. Avoid too many luxuries that could go expensively wrong, but it is possible to still use a car if the heated seats no longer work. 

Bangernomics means buying wisely
There is no excuse for buying an unroadworthy heap. Used car values are on the floor and it is perfectly possible to acquire a sound vehicle with a full MOT for less than a £1000. Ideally the car should have few owners and some recent history such as service bills and receipts. An AA Data Check (http://www.theaa.com) will tell you whether the car has a hidden history, for instance, it could be an insurance write off, or stolen. Before committing yourself and if you have little mechanical knowledge then a professional AA Vehicle Inspection is recommended. At the very least the car should be freshly MOT'd to guarantee roadworthiness and discover whether anything needs fixing. If it does and the seller won't pay or compromise, then walk away. Always pay cash and never borrow money to finance the car, that way you will be spending what you can actually afford.

Bangers are cheap to run
Firstly you won't want to bother with expensive comprehensive insurance cover, the car would be worth repairing, so third party fire and theft will do. Older cars can be less complex ones. Servicing is relatively straightforward, and changing oil, plugs and filters is within all our capabilities with a 50p Haynes manual from the Oxfam Shop. Yet cars are so much more reliable because of the electronic ignitions and electronic control units fitted to most cars from the 1980s to the mid 1990s rarely fail, or are cheap to replace. Finding a good local mechanic rather than paying through the nose for a franchised dealer charging £60 plus an hour is the key if you don't fancy getting your hands dirty.
So the key to a happy Bangernomic motoring is to cultivate a good relationship with decent local garage that knows you don’t have limitless resources to keep a car on the road. However, replacing simple things like bulbs, or anything straightforward that fails (buying these bits second hand of course) is easy and satisfying. All of us can do periodic oil changes too, absolutely vital to keeping any car, including a banger in good health. 

Bangernomics makes you feel good about owning a car. You will have a warm greenish glow from recycling a used car and prolonging its life and hopefully a slightly larger bulge in your bank balance.

James Ruppert is writing the Bangernomics Bible which he will publish this year and you can visit his site http://www.bangernomics.com for more bangtastic tips.

Posted @ 12:34:27 on 02 October 2009

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