Saturday 22 July 2017

Car for 75,000km/year? Better MPG? Buy now? Call your bluff: petrol, diesel?

Hyundai i30
Hyundai i30

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car. Aidan visits dealers all over the country to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who supply a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. Eddie is author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'.

I have a budget of €7,500-€10,000 to replace my car. I commute a 330km round trip four times a week. Annual mileage is 70,000km-75,000km. I am looking for a 4dr saloon, something solid and comfortable for motorway driving. My present car is an A4 '06 (have it from new) with almost 500,000km clocked up. I would appreciate your views on what's worth looking at.

Aidan: It is safe to assume that your car is crucial to you. Above all else, you need something as reliable as your A4 has been.

Therefore, I think you should look at buying brand new again if you can afford it.

With your budget and the nature of your driving, reducing the risk of the car being off the road and/or incurring further remedial costs should be paramount. Used cars at this budget inherently carry more risk than younger used cars and infinitely more risk than a new car with a long warranty.

Forget PCP. Your mileage is too high. See if you can wrestle a good deal on a new car on hire purchase instead.

If another Audi is a stretch too far, then speak with your local Hyundai dealer to determine if it's five-year warranty covers your mileage in a new Hyundai i40.

The warranty is advertised as unlimited but there are some terms and conditions concerning taxis and Public Service Vehicles and potentially a "fair usage" clause of which I am not aware.

Don't think I am pressuring you into a financial risk to avoid mechanical risk. If you can't afford a new car, then so be it.

There are some excellent used cars to watch for, such as a 2.0-litre diesel Ford Mondeo, 2.0-litre diesel Peugeot 508, or a 2.2 litre Honda Accord (bigger engines will be more suitable for your motorway driving).

Find one of those with the lowest mileage and the most comprehensive service record as you can. But don't rule out a new car, either.

Eddie: Your A4 has served you well. It is worth little or nothing but it demonstrates remarkable longevity - and care by you.

I share Aidan's instinct to get you into a new car but I fear it's impossible.

You have €10,000 to spend. If I were to spend it on one car it would be a Mazda6 2.2-litre diesel. You're going to have to go back the years - to 2011 maybe - as well as hope for low mileage.

Work hard tracking one because it will take your heavy mileage better than most. My second preference would be a Honda Accord.

My third would be - surprise - a Skoda Superb. All diesels of course. Look for a one-year warranty even if you have to pay a few euro more.

One other option would be to hold on for another year, scrape a few more euro together and hope the A4 holds out.

The reason for doing so is the Audi won't be worth any less and an extra few thousand saved could get you into a much fresher car.

I always enjoy your advice column and now I would like some for myself. Criteria are as follows: Budget €7,000 give or take €1,000. Annual mileage 15,000 km. The size of car, small/medium. Current car Toyota Corolla 1.4 petrol. Would dearly like good mpg and lower motor tax. In anticipation, many thanks.

Aidan: Ideally, if you can stretch to the upper limit of your budget then an Auris just about comes into play.

The 1.4-litre petrol engine was superseded by a 1.33-litre engine in 2010. Annual motor tax for the 1.33 Auris is just €280. It is a cleaner, more efficient engine so you might notice a bump in fuel efficiency, although I suspect it will be slight as the 1.4 litre has always been a frugal engine.

The difficulty will be finding one on budget that has low mileage. The Auris is consistently in high demand so you will need to be patient in finding the right one. Petrol is back in fashion and there is a scarcity of quality metal at this price.

This means that residual values for such cars have firmed up and so you will need every cent to get a good Auris with low tax.

Broaden your search to encompass other petrol cars such as the Hyundai i30, Kia cee'd, and the Honda Civic. All have 1.4-litre petrol engines.

If nothing suitable is forthcoming, then look at a 2010 Nissan Note with, you guessed it, a 1.4-litre petrol engine. Tax is €280 and it should suit your size requirements perfectly.

Eddie: I'd buy a Honda Civic with a 1.4-litre petrol engine. Decent on fuel and road tax. Nice car. I think it would suit ye.

I'm driving a 141 Hyundai i30 5dr 1.4 diesel (110,000km). My daily commute totals 150km Mon-Fri. I'm a secondary school teacher so my mileage is a lot less during school holidays. My journey is half motorway, half secondary roads so I'm thinking of trading in for a 172-reg or maybe a demo model. I'm conscientious with servicing and tyres but I'm concerned about depreciation and I want a car that I won't have trouble with. My budget is to trade-in the i30 plus €10,000-€12,000. I'm not fixed on make or model, but I like driving the Hyundai and I like the look of the Toyota Auris. I've previously driven a VW but had trouble with it so I don't want to go back there. My other thought is to keep my current car until the 5-year warranty runs out but I'm wondering then will the high mileage go against me in terms of trade-in value. Any advice appreciated.

Aidan: You are considering keeping the car for the full duration of its warranty. That means that in 2019, your car will have around 180,000km (based on annual mileage of 36,000km over five years).

So, which is a better trade-in proposition to a dealer; a three-year-old car with 110,000km and two years manufacturer's warranty remaining or a five-year-old car with 180,000km whose warranty has expired?

The answer isn't that straight-forward. Today, your cost to change is €4,000 a year (€12,000 for a three-year change; 141 for 171/172). I think it is realistic for you to expect a new car at this money.

A similar €4,000 cost to change over five years is €20,000. That infers a value of around €5,000 for your car in 2019 based on a new i30 at €25,000. Even with 180,000km, that sounds a little low to me.

So your cost to change over five years will probably be a little less than €4,000 a year.

However, when all the numbers are crunched, I still think that now is a good time for you to buy.

Interest rates for borrowing are low, the new i30 has just been launched, new car sales are sluggish and every deal matters and the savings over five years aren't hugely significant.

My advice: talk to your local Hyundai dealer and see if you can thrash out a deal for less than €12,000 to change to a new model.

Eddie: Thank God for Aidan's mathematical skills. I think you should do a deal, somehow, for a new i30. It makes the most sense.

Can I call your bluff and ask if you were driving 15,000km a year whether ye would buy a petrol or a diesel? I have €25,000 to buy a family saloon or hatch (along with my trade-in). We have two small children and live in a large provincial town. We don't want one of them SUVs.

Aidan: It all depends on the budget and the car. I cover around 20,000km per year and I drive a petrol car. However, some types of cars are more suited to diesel. MPVs and large premium saloons are two such categories where diesel rightly rules the roost.

And when Eddie and I consider used cars we have to offer advice based on what is actually available. There are some cars I wouldn't buy in petrol even if I was doing 10,000km a year.

Sometimes the car might be right for your situation but wrong for the market, if you know what I mean. In your case, a petrol car is fine and I think you should look at the new Honda Civic with the 1-litre turbo petrol engine.

Sounds measly but it's not and you don't need much more room. A new petrol Corolla would be just fine for you, too.

Lastly, the Skoda Octavia now has a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine and a new Style model might be just about achievable. Great family car and it has decent prospects for being sought after in petrol in a few years time.

Eddie: Buy a Toyota Corolla with a 1.33-litre petrol. You don't need a diesel with this.

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