Magazine article The Spectator

Brazen Costs

Magazine article The Spectator

Brazen Costs

Article excerpt

The hidden costs of motoring are just about bearable so long as they stay hidden. Depreciation, for instance, makes its painful presence felt only when you sell. That's when you realise that - according to Autocar's authoritative figures - your new Lexus LS430 depreciates during its first year at £55 per day, and your new BMW 760iL and Mercedes CLK 55 AMG at £60.

It would be nice if other costs were so reticent, but some are brazen. Tyres, for example. A friend recently discovered a side-wall bulge in one of the low-profile front tyres of his Renault Espace and, since the other was nearing its limit, decided to replace both. They had lasted just 14,500 miles; Espace front tyres, he was told, commonly need replacing within 17,000 miles because it's a fairly heavy front-wheel-drive vehicle and the torquey diesel engine in his model puts more pressure on the drive wheels. The tyres are also rather special: they incorporate an electronic pressure-monitoring device linked to the car's computer.

There are, he next discovered, only two manufacturers of these tyres - Continental at £190 each and the superior, longer-lasting Michelin at £250. On regaining balance and voice, he negotiated the latter down to £220, swallowed hard and coughed up. The moral is, don't buy a new car without asking about such routine replacement costs and their frequencies, including brake pads and discs, exhausts and filters. My tractor tyres are cheaper than that, and they're nearly as tall as I am.

Another friend had a worse surprise when she found her street-parked Astra estate resting not on its wheels but on its belly. Some bit of sludge had removed all four alloy wheels in the night. In my private inventory of punishments-to-fit-the-crime, he'd have his feet cut off - maybe just one, if it's his first offence. We'll never know that, of course, because such so-called 'minor' crime - the sort that actually affects most of us - is rarely investigated, let alone cleared up. We could tolerate zero tolerance as a policing policy, hut why in so many areas of this country do we tolerate zero protection and zero enforcement?

That said, I don't understand the fashion for alloy wheels, which cost more and are less strong than steel. They might look good on your Porsche or Range Rover, but why have them on everyday cars such as an Astra estate or my diesel Golf? And how many of us notice our wheels? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.