To buy an Audi? Buy now or hold on? Something posh with 4WD?
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'.
We are a recently retired couple in our 60s who have two cars, a 2008 Focus and a 2005 Audi A4 (sole owner with 365,000km and trouble free).
We wish to change the Audi. We understand that the PCP would not suit us since our mileage is roughly 12,000km/year. Is this correct?
We would like to stick with an Audi and our budget is €20,000 excluding a trade-in.
Aidan: Your projected mileage does not preclude PCP as an option for you, but I am somewhat concerned by recent queries that there is a tendency to focus squarely on mileage as the sole criteria for choosing PCP.
Sure, it is one of the chief considerations of the finance package but the overall structure of the repayments, your deposit/trade-in, the GMFV (Guaranteed Minimum Future Value), APR, the monthly repayments, and even the car itself are all worthy of careful examination.
PCP might work perfectly for you but your mileage will not be the single determining factor. Please remember that.
One way or another you will have to make a decision to change or keep the car at the end of the loan agreement. You kept your last car for twelve years. If you don't think you will change car every 36 months or so, then perhaps go for a Hire Purchase instead.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but your trade-in is not worth much so you need to manage your expectations that unless you opt for financing a new car or increasing your funds, your prospective purchase will be at a price that is very close to your €20,000 budget.
If you want to stick with Audi, then see if you can find and haggle a good price for a 2014 A3 saloon.
If you can get one, then your cost to change works out at around €2,200 per year. That's cheap motoring.
At your mileage, you might even benefit from buying one with the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine. It's a rare car on the used market but it is worth driving and considering if you can make it work for you.
The five-door Sportback version tends to be a few quid less expensive and it is more readily available so don't rule that out as an option.
If you want to sit higher up, the Q3 comes into play. The Q3 starts out more expensive than the A3 and scarcity has held values up meaning your budget won't go quite as far in one.
Start with the A3 saloon and go from there.
Eddie: I have no doubt that you should buy the A3 saloon. It's a straightforward decision and I have pointed several people privately in that direction with nothing only good feedback subsequently.
Don't bother your head or calculator with, or about, PCPs. You don't need one.
But people should know that 12,000km a year is well at the lower end of the scale of mileage and would not involve any adverse weighting against you on a deal.
However, for you I do think it is a matter of finding and buying a good new-as-you-can-get used A3 saloon.
I currently drive a 2009 Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6 petrol. Mileage is 114,000. I usually do about 15,000km a year.
We have two children in high back boosters and a teenager. My husband has a commercial so my car is the family car.
It's rare that all five of us travel in mine but we'd still need space across the back seat in case. We have about €5,000 to spend.
I'm tempted to hold onto mine for a while as the eldest will be learning to drive next year, but I'm conscious about rising insurance once the car is 10 years old. Any suggestions?
Aidan: As far as I see it, you have two options.
The first one is to keep the Corolla Verso and cross the insurance bridge when you get to it and the car is fully 10 years old.
You still have a while to go yet. Your Corolla is virtually indestructible, your mileage is still low enough, the car is perfect for your family, and your budget is not that generous. All good reasons to stay put.
By my calculations, combining your trade-in with your €5,000 gives you a total budget of around €11,000.
If you have an itch to move and want to mitigate any potential insurance issues, then buy a 2011-registered (maybe a 2012 depending on how the deal is positioned) Toyota Corolla 1.33-litre petrol Terra model.
You need a big car but you don't need a diesel and the Corolla ticks all of the right boxes for you.
I reckon a Toyota dealer might just fancy that Corolla Verso, too.
It's a cheap motor with bags of appeal. Keep things simple and try not to over-engineer a solution to this one.
Eddie: I know you are trying to stay ahead of the game and plan as much as possible, but my instinct is that you should stick with what you have for now.
And if you can somehow manage to save a few more euro to go with the €5,000 it will make your next choice that much easier too. I know with a young family that is not easy.
Don't worry about your own depreciating - it has lost most of its value at this stage. Used-car prices are dropping, of course, but yours is at the lower end so you will have less to lose and more to benefit from buying something further up the food chain.
As well as that there is the practical matter of the older car, hopefully, being a good outlet for your son to fine tune his driving in within a year or so.
For now stay put.
I have a 10-year-old Skoda Octavia diesel with 150k on the clock. I'll sell this car privately.
I have a bad back for driving. I do about 12,000km a year and ease of access is important
I'd like a 4-wheel-drive Audi Q5 or similar as I need space for carrying things.
I have an open mind on makes. I like a good finish in vehicle, a bit of class, heated seats, reversing camera. I have €20k approx to spend
Aidan: If you want an automatic Q5, then you need to opt for the higher powered version. That particular model has received quite a few power upgrades over the years but the one you can afford is the 170bhp model.
You say that your budget is approximately €20,000. You will need that approximation to cover stretching another couple of thousand euro in order to sneak into a 2011 plate. Most Q5s at your budget will be SE models but you still get leather and cruise control.
As for heated seats and a reversing camera, you will need to find something of a higher grade, like an S-Line; and even then those features might have been optional extras.
Consider the BMW X3 also. The 20d XDrive was most popular in SE trim and automatic transmission.
Again, if you are not for turning on the heated seats and reversing camera, then you need to increase your budget to circa €25,000 in order to buy an M Sport model.
The X3 is quite scarce and the right car can command a good premium above seemingly similar models. Please ensure that you draw a clear distinction between a premium car with an average odometer, sold by a dealer offering comprehensive warranty and one sold privately or by a somewhat transient dealer.
Far too often, people part with large amounts of hard earned cash in pursuit of a bargain. The age of the vehicles in which you are interested can present with costly repairs if you don't buy from a suitable vendor.
If it does not put you out, it would be better to spend €25,000 on the right car than €21,000 on the wrong one.
Eddie: I'd be on for you buying something like a really well-specced Honda CR-V instead of a so-called premium.
The Honda has loads of room and a good high seating position (with excellent seats I remember).
The key thing is you are not paying premium-brand money. The sort of money you're talking about for the other two marques Aidan mentioned will get you a much newer version of the Honda.
I think both the Q5 and X3, while fine cars in themselves, are over-priced if you want the sort of equipment you are looking for.
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).