Don't save on repairs and replacement works

Automotive workers work on a car at a workshop at Sin Ming Drive, on April 24, 2015.
Automotive workers work on a car at a workshop at Sin Ming Drive, on April 24, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

Should you keep your car beyond 10 years? The answer depends very much on its condition.

If it has been fairly trouble-free in its first 10 years, chances are that it will continue to be so in its next 10.

If you decide to extend the COE, there are wear-and-tear parts which you need to pay attention to.

Motoring writer Shreejit Changaroth says these might include the suspension, brakes, engine, cooling system, transmission, electricals and cosmetic touch-ups of the interior and bodywork.

"Most importantly, you must try not to save on any repairs, replacement or overhaul even if the component in question has not shown any symptoms of impending failure," says Mr Changaroth, who is an engineer and also writes for motoring magazine Torque.

"Avoid using second-hand or used parts. This way, major mechanical problems can be prevented and you may not even have to face minor issues."

But, of course, you do not need to replace them if they are obviously not worn. To determine what needs to be replaced, you can send your car to a trusted workshop or a vehicle inspection centre.

Mr Kiew Kheng Hin, assistant vice-president of vehicle maintenance and crash repair at ComfortDelGro Engineering, says his company has been getting more requests for vehicle checks by owners who are planning to renew their car COE.

"In fact, to encourage such safe driving practices, we are offering a free 'COE health check' promotion."

He recommends that vehicle owners check the engine and gearbox, undercarriage such as suspension shock absorbers, brake system, engine mountings, as well as charging system alternators.

From February to May this year, ComfortDelGro Engineering carried out health checks for close to 100 vehicles. About one-fifth of these were repaired by the company, with each bill averaging $2,000.

Once fixed, a car will easily carry on for another 10 years. If the work is properly done, there is no reason why it should not drive as well as a new car, or be as fuel-efficient.

Motorists should also be aware that they forgo a car's scrap rebate, or Parf (Preferential Additional Registration Fee), if they keep it beyond the 10th year.

For this reason, it is more economical to extend for 10 years rather than five.

Also, road tax for older cars goes up, hitting a maximum of 150 per cent by the 15th year. Mandatory vehicle inspection also becomes more frequent.

As for insurance premium, there is no reason why insurers should charge more for older cars. In fact, their risk is low, considering the cost of an older car is essentially its COE value. Shop around if your insurer wants to charge more for your old car.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2017, with the headline 'Don't save on repairs and replacement works'. Print Edition | Subscribe