When the longevity of cars is lengthened, it brings about some problems for motorists if cars are not maintained properly. Pic: Supplied

Over 60% of South Africans say they are keeping their vehicles for longer than 5 years, the Automobile Association (AA) report entitled Going Further showed. Moreover, 40% say they are keeping their cars for between 5 and 10 years and 35% keep their vehicles for longer than 10 years.

The AA’s latest research conducted earlier this year looked at how economic factors in the country play a significant role in vehicle ownership in the country. The findings back up circumstantial evidence that cars are being kept for longer.

The car industry in low gear

Most respondents (90%) said that they are holding on to their vehicles longer due to the current South Africa’s economy conditions. Vehicles sales continue their steady decline in the third quarter of 2019 according to the latest TransUnion Vehicle Pricing Index (VPI).

“The industry is trending in a downward direction, and unless certain structural changes take place in the economy, the picture is not going to change for the local auto industry,” said Kriben Reddy, head of Auto Information Solutions for TransUnion Africa.  

With South Africa’s car industry slowing down amid the stuttering economy, many consumers are delaying vehicle purchases.

Car reliability

Besides economic reasons, more than 35% of respondents say they are also keeping their vehicles longer because newer models are more reliable. According to the data, more than 25 percent of primary vehicles are older than five years, and more than 30 percent are older than ten years.

Newer vehicles, compared to older models, provide reliable and practical motoring to the South African public, which prevents vehicle owners from taking the plunge and buying a brand new car.  

Why do over 60% of South Africans keep their cars for more than 10 years? Pic: Supplied

Better maintenance and insurance

The AA’s findings also suggest that there is an increased need for better maintenance of cars and for proper insurance as a result of the longevity of vehicles. The AA found that more than 60% of the respondents say they have insurance, whereas national data points to a much lower rate of 35% insurance, which may represent a cause for concern if it is the case, as insurance is part of a good maintenance plan for any car.

When the longevity of cars is lengthened, it brings about some problems for motorists if cars are not maintained properly, the AA said. Breakdowns or even accidents are some possible negative consequences if vehicles are not properly serviced or maintained.

The AA’s research also shows that just under half of owners say they pay out of pocket for maintenance costs, with only around 20% saying they have maintenance plans for their vehicles to actively save and plan for maintenance while around 5% say they don’t plan financially at all for maintenance expenses.

“These results show that too many people rely on their car to never break down and, when it does, they would rather pay out of pocket than have a financial plan in place. Having a maintenance plan, or service plan is easy to obtain and budget-friendly”, said David Chard, MD of AA Warranties.

With vehicles being used longer, it becomes necessary that motorists have a financial plan as a breakdown is never out of the equation. When choosing a car insurance, motorists should first compare all the options so as to know the details about what each car insurance covers and the quotes, plans and benefits.

In addition to proper maintenance, the AA provided some tips on how to lengthen the lifespan of a vehicle: Avoiding excessive acceleration, turning and braking, avoiding over-revving the vehicle, checking tyre pressures frequently and attending to warning lights as soon as possible. Furthermore, wheel alignment should also be checked every six months, and sticking to the service schedule of the car is essential as well.

Both the current economic situation in South Africa and the reliability of newer car models are factors that contribute to the decline in vehicle sales. Car owners are keeping their cars for longer either because they cannot afford a new one or because their car does not bring them any problems. In any case, the fact that South Africans hold on to their vehicles for longer periods makes it necessary for them to have maintenance plans and proper insurance.