Selling two, buying one? Ripped off on tyres? New job: hold on or buy new car?
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
My father is no longer able to drive. He has a 2008 Mercedes C-Class with 110,000km on the clock. We have a 2011 Volkswagen Passat which is giving a bit of trouble and we'd like to get something newer. Should we try to trade-in both and buy a new car? Or just the one? The Mercedes is in good condition. The Passat has taken a lot of hacking from our two teenage passengers. We don't have much of a budget, say €10,000, along with the cars. I'd like a Nissan Qashqai but my husband wants another Passat. What would you recommend?
Aidan: I think you might have more luck with selling both cars privately. Very few dealers will retail a 2008 C Class as it will probably require a heavy investment to make it retail-ready, complete with warranty and other assurances. Regardless of how well it has been minded, wear and tear items will soon raise their costly heads. If it is a C180 Elegance Automatic (most were) try to extract around €8,000 from it; maybe more if it has a full service record and is cosmetically very good. With at least the same again from the Passat, you're looking at a budget in the mid-twenties. That's a cash base that allows you to go anywhere. Nothing wrong with staying with a Passat. The new model was launched last year and the market is readily supplied with good, clean and fresh plated one-year-olds. The 1.6 TDi Comfortline will be most popular but VW sold a lot of well equipped Highline models, too. The Qashqai is a different proposition. It is taller and in terms of space, is around halfway between a hatchback and a saloon. Depending on how much over €25,000 you have, you might find a new model within reach. Certainly a 2015 plate seems a reasonable expectation. Perhaps broaden your scope to bring in the Hyundai ix35, Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V (a bit bigger than most SUVs), Toyota Rav4, VW Tiguan, and maybe even the estate version of the Skoda Superb and Peugeot 508. There are no bad choices there.
Eddie: Research constantly shows that women are the real decision-makers when it comes to buying a car. Hubby might 'buy' it but wife makes the core decision. So my money is on you getting a Qashqai. If your heart is set on it, I am not going to dissuade you though I think the new Volkswagen Tiguan may well be worth a look. That might make even more sense if you trade the Passat against it (and might take some of the work out of moving the two used cars). I agree with Aidan: sell the Merc privately. It sounds like a good buy.
Has my garage ripped me off? I recently got a major service for my Ford Mondeo (2013, 85,000km). The garage called to say two of the tyres were badly and unevenly worn and needed replacement. They charged me €110 each. I thought that was saucy and checked online and found an outlet only a few kms away selling the tyres for nearly half that. How can that be?
Aidan: By any chance, might you be measuring a premium brand tyre from your garage with an economy one from the tyre outlet with which you are making the comparison? It seems extraordinary that a premium brand tyre, as is usually fitted by franchise dealers, can be bought at 50pc cost elsewhere?
Most tyre centres simply quote the brand and cost of their tyres. It is not until you delve into the complexities of each tyre that you can begin to appreciate the enormous differences between a good tyre and an excellent one; often from the same brand.
Tyre manufacturers are now obliged to display various ratings connected to key attributes of each tyre. These are usually summarised as rolling resistance (the loss of energy from a rolling tyre; expressed as an impact on fuel economy), wet grip performance, and decibel ratings. The grades for rolling resistance and wet grip start at the letter A, and end at the letter G. Premium brands tend to perform much better in all cases. Some research even suggests that the difference in fuel consumption can be as much as 6 l/1,000km which would justify the cost fairly quickly.
And if the tyre fitted by your garage has better wet-grip capabilities and reduces your stopping distance, it could be the difference between having an accident or avoiding one.Your tyres are the only contact patch with the road (patch is no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper). It is an investment in the safety of you, your occupants and pedestrians.
You mention your old tyres were unevenly worn. Did you need suspension parts replaced? Or was tracking enough to solve that problem? Tracking comes at an additional cost so perhaps your garage absorbed it into the cost of the tyre. Quotes from tyre centres certainly don't include tracking.
Eddie: Why don't you go back to your garage - if you haven't already done so - and ask? There is a huge amount of mystery (I could use the word 'ignorance' but that would be misconstrued) around tyres. Aidan has adeptly dealt with the safety and financial reasons for fitting the best you can afford but that does not rule out someone taking advantage. In this case I doubt that is what happened but I wouldn't let it fester any more. Check first that you are dealing with like-for-like products and then ask the garage. Do let us know how you get on.
I'm at a loss over what to do. I have a Fiat Punto (2004) which has given me no trouble but I'm moving to Dublin soon to a new job and need something up the years. I have €8,000 I can spend on a car now. Should I wait until I get better paid over the next year or get something reasonable now? I'd really appreciate your advice on this because time is short before I make the move.
Aidan: Tough decision alright. Your 2004 Punto isn't going to depreciate much over the next few months so as long as it is in fine fettle, then perhaps stick it out another while longer and get a couple of thousand euro more. At this budget, every €1,500 or so can make the difference in another year's registration plate. Such is the compression in values in the market at present, not to mention the budgetary sensitivity of many buyers, that prices for different years are squeezed closely together. This has meant that for a long time the cost to change has been excellent value for money. Crucially, it can mean you get into a fresher model with lower mileage without breaking the bank. A supermini will probably still suit you when the time comes to change. This autumn might be a bit soon to muster the sort of dough you will need to make a big impact on your affordability but watch out for some good deals towards the end of the year. Or, better still, start shopping around October (after the Budget). Venture into a few dealerships and see what trade-ins they already have in their books.
Lots of new car buyers will lodge their inquiries with dealers in October and November and expect to take delivery of their 2017 cars early next year. However, dealers will already have an indication of some trade-ins as they will form part of pre-ordered new car deals. By lodging your interest early, you can manage your budgetary expectations and get your name on the list for a well-minded used car much earlier than anyone walking in from the street as a fresh customer next year. Look out for the usual strong performers like the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo, Toyota Yaris, Renault Clio, Opel Corsa, Skoda Fabia, and Peugeot 208. If your Punto gives up the ghost unexpectedly, then you're not totally out of luck either. There is a very healthy supply of used cars in the market off the back of strong retail sales over the last couple of years so choice will be good.
Eddie: I understand your concern but I would definitely hold on. Get a good few more euro into your pocket, research the market and buy as new as you can. All the cars Aidan mentions are a good choice so I won't befuddle you with as many more. But I would say you should try to sell the Punto privately when you come to buy. Then you will be in the brilliant position of being a cash buyer - something dealers always love. And you will be able to drive a bargain. Good luck.
JUST TO SAY
We love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all queries in as full a manner as this due to time and space restraints. We try to deal with as many as possible via email. But you can help us help you if you make sure to include the following critical elements in your query:
* Total budget.
* Annual mileage.
* Size of car required (number of seats).
* Present car (make, model, year and mileage).