It’s neither cool, nor stylish but I love my ‘champagne’ Renault Scenic. Bought from my husband’s grandad after baby number two forced me to trade in my altogether more sporty and speedy coupe, it has served me so well over the past six years.
There’s oodles of space for prams, buggies and shopping in the boot, while in the back there’s ample room for two boys (and a friend) to swing their legs. Yet much as I love my little run around, it’s spending more time on the drive than on the road.
It has been this way for a couple of years and many a time has my husband questioned whether we really need, or indeed can justify running two cars. As he points out, if we worked out a cost per use it would be frightening. Although we bought it for a bargain rate (thanks Grandad!) and don’t spend huge sums on petrol, when you tot up the cost of insurance, road tax, MOT and regular servicing, the running costs are significant.
My defence has always been that you can’t put a price on convenience – of knowing that the car is there when you need it and not being reliant on others when you need to get from A-Z. I was never going to hire a taxi just to take the kids to play group or swimming; we would have just stayed at home.
However, after forking out for both a service and an MOT recently, the mechanic (who incidentally I do trust!) pointed out there were several jobs that needed doing over the next few months, tyres, brakes, and so on. At 10-years old this car might be cheap to run, but it was only going to become more expensive to stay roadworthy.
“It is probably time to start thinking about a new car,” my helpful mechanic said. This was when the message struck home. As much as I love the ease of having two cars – I really can’t face splashing out several thousand pounds for a run around that will spend most of its time on the drive. Nor do I want to spend a fortune maintaining a car that really isn’t worth that much.
So we are now looking at diaries and making notes of when we use both cars and starting to think more laterally about how we would manage with one car. It’s not a problem to expense any taxis to the airport when my husband travels for work. It’s not so straightforward for some of the longer drives he needs to do within the UK, if it happens to be on a day when I need to ferry the kids around after school. However, having looked at the mileage rates he gets on petrol, hiring a car here and there to get to meetings may not be as extravagant as it sounds.
Weekends may be more of a challenge – and possibly more so as they get older – with parties, sports lessons and other fixtures to juggle. But it’s just something we’ll just have to work around – there are always bikes, taxis and friends to catch a ride with.
The fact is that my car really is an expensive luxury and the more I write this, the more I realise the car really has got to go, while it’s freshly serviced and with a new MOT.