Membership fees offer good value
MEMBERSHIP of the Hongkong Automobile Association (HKAA) costs $550 per annum and there is also a joining fee of $200.
The equivalent charges for full membership in Britain would be about twice as much.
Another option is for people to take out life membership. For a single payment of $4,750 - representing about 81/2 years' annual fees - members can take advantage of the extensive range of services on offer.
Existing members who wish to change from annual to life membership terms have a still greater incentive.
The ''transfer fee'' is a mere $4,000, which is just over seven years' worth on an annual basis.
The HKAA's 17,000 members can draw on an impressive range of specially tailored services and facilities.
These begin with insurance policies that offer beneficial discounted rates. The policies can cover anything from motoring to travel, home to marine, or even domestic helper insurance.
The vehicle inspection service provides a reasonably-priced opportunity to give your car an all-over health check, perhaps once every year.
Faults and problems can often be identified before they become serious, saving both expense and valuable time.
Free legal advice is also available.
The vehicle evaluation scheme is used by prospective buyers of second-hand vehicles, all of whom need to be sure they are not being sold a bad vehicle.
Three-or four-week courses, held on Saturday mornings, can give motorists a basic introduction to how and why their car works and how to identify the faults.
The HKAA can also provide comprehensive literature and advice on touring by car, and offers a lubrication service to deal with routine changes of plugs, oil and filters.
The China Drives, through scenic parts of southern China, are proving very popular, though they are now restricted to just 40 vehicles.
The Chinese authorities gave the first convoy its own security escort but, with 150 cars, the inevitable result was chaos. Trips last from three to eight days.
Another HKAA department deals with shipping.
Its experts give advice and deal with documentation in the complex and varied regulations regarding the trans-shipment of cars.
The HKAA is the official motor sport authority for Hongkong and, since 1979, has been a fully elected member of both the International Automobile Federation and the equivalent motorcycle federation.
Its most obvious service is roadside assistance from a trained and experienced mechanic, which allows nine out of 10 problems, on average, to be rectified on the spot.
A free tow to a nearby garage is offered for the others.
A car washing facility is available at the HKAA's Yau Ma Tei centre.
This was one of the HKAA's original services but was dropped many years ago when it became inefficient in labour terms.
However, the development of automated car washing has enabled the HKAA to revive the service.
Internal valeting is also available, as is crystal polishing to protect the paintwork's gloss.
The HKAA also sells and fits road safety products, including special harnesses for the disabled and for children using public light buses, and standard car restraints.
Security devices are also fitted by the HKAA.
In collaboration with the Environmental Protection Department, the HKAA runs a diesel engine tuning workshop at its Wan Chai depot.