Friday 9 December 2016

The children want change; Luggage space needed; The high cost of repairs

Published 01/04/2015 | 02:30

Our simple advice can help you make the right choice when buying your next car
Our simple advice can help you make the right choice when buying your next 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'.

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We are a Dublin-based family of five with two cars (03 VW Touran 7-seater, 04 Citroen Berlingo Multispace 1.4 petrol). We use them mostly for the school run etc. Annual mileage is under 3,000km (probably lower for the Berlingo). We are paying a lot on car tax (both are pre-08) and annual NCT checks. The Touran is beginning to exhibit problems so we want to ditch it but want something more modern than the Berlingo as well. In truth the pressure is from the children who want something that looks a bit nicer.

Trade-in rates for both cars seem shockingly low. Our main criteria is that the next car should not cost much, be economical, and have a good-sized boot. Maybe flexible seating arrangements as well. We are unsure whether to buy new or used. The budget will be under €10K as we are hoping to get a mortgage this year. Advice?

Aidan: I don't think you should let your children influence your decision. You are responsible for their safety, not their 'street cred'. You don't need a new car for fewer than 3,000km especially if you will soon be looking for a mortgage.

Regardless of mileage, you will suffer age-related depreciation which will almost certainly outweigh the premium a low-mileage car will attract on the used market. Considering the Berlingo is not causing concern, you should hang onto it for a another while. Pay the tax and NCT; their costs pale in comparison with the repayments on a fresher model.

That leaves you with the Touran. It's not worth a great deal to trade but sometimes it's better to go this route to tend to everything in one deal.

Personally, I couldn't sell a family car that is exhibiting issues to another family. Let the dealer fix it up if they want to.

That leaves you needing a big five, or seven, seater. You do NOT need a diesel. Try the Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6. It's a super car with a great engine and loads of room. The Mazda 5 is a 1.8 petrol with higher tax etc, but it's got sliding rear doors, acres of room, is a beauty to drive and will go forever.

When the time comes to trade the Berlingo, I think a petrol Toyota Auris is perfect for you.

Eddie: Your mileage is incredibly low so why don't you just do an all-in-one deal with the likes of Citroen for a new/used 5-seater Picasso or 7-seater Grand Picasso? Or Nissan for a Qashqai? You will have only one motoring expense and the children can't whinge.

Alternatively, buy a (deep breath folks) totally functional, bargain basement Dacia Logan MCV (estate) for around €11,500. It has acres of room and a 3-year warranty which you can increase to five for small money.

We need advice on replacing our 04 Saab 93 (100,000+ miles); NCT valid until Feb 2016. We have a second car for local driving. The Saab's main use has been going to Kerry, visiting family in Cork and Co Louth. Its luggage capacity is especially important. Our annual mileage (country driving) is 12,000 miles.

We may have to consider an auto as some cars have quite a long stretch for the clutch and I have short legs. Our max budget is around €30,000 (new/used). Emphasis on luggage rather than seating.

Aidan: Oh dear, I better stop slagging Eddie for continually recommending the Skoda Octavia because I seem to be recommending the SEAT Leon ST just as frequently. In fact, both models are ideal for you. The Skoda is probably slightly bigger but they are so similar it is really a matter of taste.

Strictly speaking, your annual mileage means you can get away with a petrol, but if the car is regularly used for long spins with a heavy load, then diesel might work in your favour.

You can blow your budget and get a Skoda Octavia Combi 1.6 TDi 105bhp with DSG automatic gearbox in Elegance trim for €30,000. Step back €1,500 for the Ambiente model and you still have lots of goodies. You can save more than €2,000 if you opt for the 1.4 TSi petrol engine.

Being a first cousin of the Octavia, the SEAT Leon ST has the same engine and gearbox line-up. It is priced a little behind the Octavia, but is a super car in its own right and one of my personal favourites.

Eddie: If you really want luggage space then a new/nearly new Skoda Superb (estate if you like) is another option. Huge boot. Great value. A nice secondhand Audi A4 Avant (estate) might suit you too. Solid as a rock.

My wife and I share an Opel Astra 09 hatchback Diptronic. My wife only has an automatic licence and I like this transmission anyway. We would like to trade maybe July time for something maybe slightly bigger. Possibly diesel. The Astra is petrol. Mileage on it is 90,000km and we do approx 30,000km annually. Bought the Astra in September 2012 with low mileage. It never gives trouble and has a nice bit of power. It is a 1.6 petrol. We go quite a bit to Dublin from Mayo plus maybe twice a year to the UK. Budget would be €15,000, seats four, big boot. Any suggestions?

Aidan: At 30,000km annually you fit the profile of a diesel buyer. Considering you need an automatic transmission, you will face limited availability and lots of options will already have high mileage.

You could opt for a Toyota Prius. It is a hybrid and therefore automatic. It will be frugal around town but less so on motorway spins. A diesel Ford Mondeo with the 2.0 litre TDCi engine would make a great purchase. Most come with generous spec. Watch out for Titanium models. The 5dr hatchback has a huge boot too.

Eddie: No hesitation in suggesting a Toyota Corolla - if you can get an automatic. Another worth investigating is the Mazda6 - excellent for long journeys.

I am thinking of trading in 2004 Passat 1.9 which has 165,000 miles. Annual mileage is 15,000. I have two children (5, 8) and use the car for work. Would aim for 2 /3 year-old car. Budget is €15,000 + trade in. Any advice?

Aidan: Your budget will not likely buy you a two-or-three-old Passat. Instead, look for a Toyota Corolla. Petrol is fine considering your mileage; the 1.33 engine has low motor tax and is frugal. Peugeot's 508 is a lovely motor. It was mostly sold with a 1.6 HDi engine in Active trim. A 2011 model is definitely within grasp and maybe a 2012. Coming up to even a 2011 model is still seven years for €15,000. At just more than €2,000/year, that's good going.

Eddie: Another case where a Mazda6 (don't worry about the year) would fit the bill. Agree on Corolla, Aidan. Excellent choice.

Can you please advise if there is much discussion or discontent about the usage of Dual Mass Flywheels and the huge costs to replace them when they fail? I was recently advised it would cost me €1,900 to replace the one in my 2008 Audi A4 2.0 TDi.

It seems these components are used on most if not all manual cars since about 2002 and can fail on a relatively regular basis at around 120,000km. It is shocking that a component, known to fail, continues to be used by car manufacturers, resulting in huge repair bills.

Aidan: Dual Mass Flywheels (DMF) were introduced to stabilise vibrations from engines and to make gear changes smoother.

Complications might occur when drivers are 'heavy' on the clutch, causing the temperature in the flywheel to rise and warp the components. Ultimately, it is a wear and tear item just the same as a solid flywheel.

I don't think there is anything nefarious from a manufacturers' standpoint in deciding to use DMFs. Drivers want cars to be smooth and free from a shaky engine. I do agree the cost of replacing a DMF is eye-watering.

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