AA patrols will be on heightened alert as new cars with the latest 13 number plates begin to roll off the UK's forecourts. Although a third of AA members said they would think twice about new cars with the 13 number plate, mainly because of sell-on concerns later, UK car sales are resurgent.
Traditionally, some new car owners have to call out the AA on the first day, mainly because they haven't familiarised themselves with new technologies and features on the cars. To make sure drivers don't start to become paranoid about their 13 plates, the AA suggests:
– Don't rush and don't be rushed – even if you're picking the car up just after midnight on Friday with other new owners, make sure the dealer shows you how to operate critical equipment, such as indicators, lights, mirrors, windows, etc.
– Be safe and secure – ask the dealer to show you how the security system works, where the warning lights are and how to deal with a puncture.
– Do it by the book – the manual is essential bed-time reading when you get home. It helps to get the best out of the car, saves money and heads off disaster, particularly with engine fluid maintenance.
Earlier this year, the DVLA considered offering triskaidekaphobic new car buyers continued access to the previous 62 plates (for cars registered new between 1 September 12 and 28 February 13) but then dropped the idea.
The AA survey found that, while a superstitious one in 10 strongly or somewhat believe that buying a new car with an 'unlucky' 13 next March is best avoided, a devil-may-care 66% wouldn't shy away from having plates like MY13 HEX and SP13 OOK.
Those most nervous about driving around on a 13 plate are likely to be older drivers (10%-11%) and blue collar workers.
The biggest hang-up over the 13 plate comes with trying to sell on the car – 4% of the 20,029 survey respondents firmly believe and 25% somewhat believe that this is where the 13-plate hoodoo is most likely to strike. The concern rises to 33% (4% strongly and 29% somewhat) among AA members aged 65 or more, although only 20% (2% strongly and 18% somewhat) of younger drivers, aged 18-24, see it as a problem.
AA members in the West Midlands have the greatest doubt (32%) although, this time, it is the better-off car owners who most (29%) think a 13-plate will come back to haunt them when it comes to getting rid of the car.
"Number plate superstition sounds silly but once they encounter a series of mishaps, new owners may begin to wonder. The flip side is that they drive more carefully and look after the car better," says Edmund King, the AA's president.
"Without the option to extend the previous 62 plate, the only alternatives are to pay out more for a personalised registration or bite the bullet and ride your luck. Of course, you could always carry a Saint Christopher statue**, patron saint of travellers, and not call it Christine after Stephen King's 'possessed' automobile."
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AA Public Affairs
T: 01256 493493