Off to the scrapheap…

5053504076_28046433f8_zHow long do you think a car should last? While some cars keep chugging along for more than two decades, many Brits expect a new car to last between 13 and 15 years before they rub their chins and think: “Right, that’s it. Time to scrap it.” Does 15 years seem an awful long time to hold onto a car to you anyway? It probably does, but that’s more than likely because these days we don’t have any great expectations about vehicle longevity. Unless we drive a Mercedes, maybe, or one of the high-end top marques such as a Bentley or a Roller, or a bona fide classic such as a Triumph or a Jag. Or maybe we’ve simply grown to view cars as more dispensable – commodities, rather than prized possessions worthy of our love and attention. After all, when do you ever see someone spending Sunday morning under the bonnet of their car anymore?

Problem teenagers

But that’s how long many cars tend to last. According to research from vehicle recycler Remove My Car, more than four in 10 of the vehicles it has been asked to recycle over the last 18 months have been between 13 and 15 years old. Of the 69,531 vehicles the company recycled in this period, 9,548 were registered in 2001, 10,069 were registered in 2000 and 9,026 were registered in 1999.

Age-old problem

Steve Queen, owner of Remove My Car, said: “Repairs increase, both in terms of cost and frequency, as a car ages and often it makes financial sense for motorists to buy a newer car.” The company’s books also show that the Ford Fiesta was scrapped more than any other car in the UK over the last 18 months, ahead of the Vauxhall Astra and the Ford Mondeo. Queen said: “Typically Ford Fiestas are a very popular model of car to buy second hand, meaning they will pass through a number of owners in their lifetime. “They’re often used almost constantly from the day they come off the production line, resulting in worn components and parts.” Ford has built 16 million Fiestas since 1976.

Silver service

Not all cars have a 15-year shelf life, of course. About 160 of the vehicles Remove My Car has scrapped over the last 18 months were an impressive 25 years of age. Queen does not expect many of the models coming off the production line today to last that long, though. “Modern cars, with all their mod-cons, can often be more likely to experience a fault than older cars, which were built to a much simpler specification,” he said. “Newer cars require a lot more maintenance, and if motorists don’t keep them in good condition, they can be prone to breakdowns and costly repairs.” He also believes that security concerns – coupled with the cost of repairs – will continue to encourage people to consign older cars to the scrapheap in the years to come.

Get a grip

Queen said: “It’s potentially very dangerous to drive old cars in bad weather, as their tyres and brakes often struggle in wet and icy conditions. “Recycling is the most environmentally friendly way of disposing of older cars and taking away the risk of suffering an accident on the road, while generating funds that can go towards buying a replacement.”

Top five most scrapped cars over the past 18 months

1. Ford Fiesta – 1,691 2. Vauxhall Astra – 1,544 3. Ford Mondeo – 1,439 4. Renault Megane – 1,238 5. Vauxhall Corsa – 1,234 Image courtesy of Flickr user Dave_7

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