Probably not, is the short answer. The media seems full of stories about how thrifty and careful we have all become as financial belts get tightened. Rather than chucking away that worn pair of shoes we’re getting them resoled, and we’re getting the computer repaired rather than binning it. So presumably the same holds true of our cars?
Not a bit of it. The fact is that you can chuck your clothes away and buy replacements for £1.50 from Primark, whereas investing enough to give a motor a proper once-over is a far more serious bit of spending. And as people get increasingly reluctant to pay for anything they don’t have to, more and more people are skipping scheduled services.
A chance conversation with an important mover and shaker in the warranty industry led to the revelation that one of the largest networks of servicing centres, effectively the Netto of the garage world, is filled with little more than tumbleweed at the moment. Business was down by 20 per cent year-on-year when I started this blog, and the chances are it’s rather more now.
That’s a worry for downmarket car buyers like me, who will find a big hole in the service history. Obviously that could lead to increase in sales for the John Bull printing set company.
You also need to be careful at the upper end of the market. Don’t ever rely on a Prancing Horse stamp to be the guarantee that everything is as Enzo intended. Talking to a 456 specialist a while back it’s clear that even some Ferrari owners will have the bare minimum done to get the smudge and skimp on work on things like brakes and suspension.
The problem is that most modern cars are so tolerant of missed services. Thirty years ago a Morris Minor would seize solid if it’s nipples weren’t lovingly greased on a twice-weekly basis, or the sump wasn’t emptied and refreshed every 3000 miles.
But if things carry on like this, in a year’s time all cars will be running in limp-home mode, with two space savers on the front axle and some sticks of liquorice where the wipers used to be.