The Challenges of Keeping an old car on the Road

Geraldine Herbert with her Elderly Ford Focus. Photos: Kyran O'Brien

Geraldine Herbert with her Elderly Ford Focus. Photos: Kyran O’Brien

How hard is it to tax, insure and maintain an old car asks Geraldine Herbert

Late last year two insurance companies Aviva and Allianz Insurance announced that will no longer be insuring older cars. By older they mean anything 15 years  or over and while they assured existing customers who own cars that exceed these limits they would continue to insurance them, they would not however be accepting new customers.

In May 2000 I bought my first new car, a Sapphire Blue Mark One Ford Focus complete with new car smell, a tape deck and a 1599 cc petrol engine. Much as I loved it, it was a short sighted investment as within 12 months I was working  as a motoring journalist and the succession of brand new cars that adorned my driveway weekly soon took the shine off my, by then, nearly new Ford.

Over the years I continued to tax and insure it but as the gaps between outings  lengthened the dust (and as is apparent from the photo above the leaves) gathered. The final nail in the metaphorical coffin was the change to Motor tax in 2013. In a bid to clamp down on Motor Tax evasion the Government decided that drivers should have to declare cars  ‘off the road ’ before the motor tax ran out and didn’t have the option of sporadically declaring it off the road retrospectively as they had  before.

Since then my Focus has been consigned to the garage and even the insurance lapsed. So how difficult, given the resistance by some insurance companies to insure older cars, would it be to renew the insurance on my 15 year old car. To find out I contacted eight insurance companies online. First up was ‘Its for’ who responded  with “Unfortunately we are unable to quote for your circumstances at this present time as you fall outside of our underwriting criteria”. provided costing for a variety of options including  €774 for Comprehensive. ‘No Nonsense’ were also unable to provide a quote and the same response was given by One Direct and Liberty Insurance.  AXA supplied a price of €812.60 for Comprehensive cover while the AA were offering  comprehensive cover for €659.18.  Finally Comprehensive cover would cost €811.76 from Overall there was a difference of over €153 between the highest and lowest quote supplied.

So it seems it is still possible to insure an old car but whether you  have an old or new car when shopping for insurance remember to always put a realistic value on your car, shop around and if at all possible pay in full and not in instalments.

And its good news for older cars,  just because a car is old or has high mileage is not a reason to change it. Today’s cars are far more reliable than before so if it’s not giving you any problems, hold on to it. Taking good care of your car is an easy way to prolong its driving life and cut costs so do regular servicing, checks on the oil, fluid levels, tyres and so on. This may time consuming but it pays huge dividends in the long run.


Some  tips to keep an old car on the road

Petrol or Diesel
If you are buying an older second hand car opt for a petrol car over a diesel one as petrol cars last longer.  The reason is simply that they are generally much less complicated than diesel cars.


Be Kind

Be kind to your car and drive gently, so accelerate slowly and avoid harsh braking. In winter allow your car a minute or so to warm up before driving it hard.


Paint work

The paint work on your car is the first line of defence against rusted body panels so if possible park your car in a garage but if not then park in the shade.


Find a mechanic you can trust. Maintaining an old car depends on a good partnership between you and your mechanic.


Saying Goodbye

Unfortunately there will come a point where constant repairs become costly   so take advice from your mechanic as to when there’s no longer any point spending money on it. The time may have come to send it on its way to the big car park in the sky. But be warned scrapping has changed in recent years and is now regulated by the Waste Management (End-of-Life Vehicles) Regulations 2014. Contact your local authority or the vehicle importer to find an authorised car recycling centres, known as Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATF).

Bring your vehicle registration documents with you to the ATF, as the registered owner of the car cannot be charged for depositing an end-of-life vehicle at an authorised treatment facility. If you don’t have the registration documents then you need to get an RF134 form and bring it to your local Garda station to have it signed. When signed send the form with the appropriate fee to your Motor Tax Office. It should take about 10 working days to process.

Don’t remove any parts of the car, e.g. engine, gearbox or you may be charged for the disposal. You may be able to claim a refund of motor tax if there is more than 3 months unexpired tax. Once scrapped the ATF will Issue you with certificate of destruction which effectively means the car has been deregistered; they will forward the details of the certificate of destruction to the National Vehicle File.

Listen back to The Last Word with Matt Cooper   Geraldine Herbert ( and Aidan Timmons (Motor Trade)  discuss the benefits of an older car

Geraldine Herbert

10th December, 2015


Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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