When you buy a new car it starts depreciating as soon as you drive it off the lot. There are plenty of old cars with relatively few miles — under 100,000 — that have been very well cared for and still have a lot of life left, considering that the average car on the road today is close to 12 years old.

Before buying an old car here is what consumer advisers suggest you do: Set aside some cash for future repairs, related to tires and brakes and other hidden surprises. Check the car’s record of maintenance and repairs. See that the paint, interior, and glass are in good condition, which indicates the car was garaged and cleaned regularly. Find out about the car’s accident record to see if it was ever seriously damaged. Invest in a pre-purchase inspection. This doesn’t cost much but it will set you straight if you were told that the car was only driven no further than to the super market by an elderly grandmother.

Those nasty car scratches

I just got another scratch on my car. This time it wasn’t my own doing. Someone in a parking lot must have opened their door and hit my car. If I bring it to body shop they will probably want to repaint the entire car panel that’s been scratched to make sure the colour matches. But if that happens to you, with a steady hand and an artist’s brush you can easily do the job yourself, touching up scratches and scrapes. Kits can be bought that matches your car’s paint and provide everything you need to make many blemishes disappear. Prices range from $10 for paint pens to over $50 for premium touch-up kits. You can find your car’s paint colour code on a sticker in the glove box or on the driver’s side door.

My car wouldn’t start

Leaving the mall recently I got into my car, turned on the motor and it wouldn’t start. I was told at my last car check-up that my battery was four years old and I should get it replaced, I thought at that time that the garage just wanted to make a sale. I carry a jumper in my car and a Good Samaritan allowed me to connect it to his vehicle so I was able to boost the battery and get it started. I immediately drove to my dealer and had it replaced. If I couldn’t find anyone to give the battery a boost, I would have called CAA, which I’m a member of. I’m told that most of their service trucks even carry batteries and can replace them on the spot. It’s not just winter that’s tough on a battery. This happened during a scorching hot September afternoon. CAA claims heat can ruin your battery 33 per cent faster than a low temperature.

The left lane road hogger

I’m ready to tear what little hair I still have on my head when I’m on the highway and a driver is driving so slow in the left lane. Wanting to pass, I’ll flash my headlights or tailgate too close, but it’s of no avail so I pass him in the right lane. The left-hand lane is reserved for passing and staying in the lane at a slow pace is against the law. In Quebec, fines range from $60 to $120. A friend in New Jersey tells me that fines there can reach $500 plus $50 that goes into a fund to post “Keep Right Except to Pass” signs on the roadways.

The parallel parker

Last week I got behind one of those parallel parkers who never manages to parallel park on the first try, always takes as long as they can and makes sure that they block the entire street. It ranks with the garbage collectors who block the whole street

Bertha, the back seat driver says…

“My girl friend is such a negative person. Her husband remembered the car seat, the stroller and the diaper bag. Yet all she can talk about is how he forgot the baby.”

riben@videotron.ca

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