THIS week Aidan Timmons continues with Motoring Editor, Eddie Cunningham to help you make a better decision when buying a second-hand car. Aidan is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who produce a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. He visits dealers all over the country each year to produce a monthly guidebook on the value of used cars.
Eddie: I have more readers asking what they should buy on a budget of €10,000.
Again it breaks down between supermini/small car, a compact family motor and a family/crossover.
Aidan: Ok, here's three more.
RENAULT CLIO 1.2 DYNAMIQUE
Background: Renault has struggled in some segments but the Clio has always done well. It is an example of how well the French can make a supermini.
Engines: It's best matched to a small petrol engine. The 1.5 dCi diesel is excellent but prices you out of the €10,000 park for younger models. The 1.2-litre petrol is powerful enough and doesn't get too raucous at motorway speeds.
Residual values: It's true Renaults lose value faster than many rivals but the Clio is an exception. Owners appear happy with the trade-in allowances. It has a strong customer retention rate too.
Cabin: Renaults do well in Euro NCAP crash tests and the model at this price (2005 to 2012) is on a par with rivals. If budget allows, opt for Dynamique trim – it adds alloys, air con and leather steering wheel to the entry-level Royale. The latter doesn't look or feel austere by any means – with tasteful interior styling. What can I say? It's French.
Choice: You shouldn't have difficulty finding a good selection for around €10,000. You might even have enough change to cover the motor tax bill (€280). Royales shouldn't cost as much as Dynamiques but values are so close that a low mileage Royale will blur the lines. Anyway, it's more important you buy a clean, low mileage version than one with fancy gear.
Watch out for: Superminis generally tend to qualify for the "one careful lady owner" tag but this can't be true of all. Check for worn suspension parts on high mileage examples. At €10,000 for a fresh used car, many dealers will offer a warranty. Just be sure to check exactly what is included.
Check that all electrics are working properly. Ask if any electrical area has been replaced or repaired. Check servicing to see if so. Try to buy from a dealer, not privately.
PEUGEOT 308 1.6 HDI SE
Background: The old 308 – there's a brand new one now - has under performed. It hadn't the same attraction as a Focus or Golf. But good for you, because that's why it makes a sensible choice here. It can be good value for money. Be careful buying from a private seller though. Poorly maintained 308s can present with some sickly symptoms.
Engines: Peugeot make excellent diesels. The 1.6 HDi in the 308 produces enough pulling power (torque) to cope with most driving conditions. It's basically the same as that in the Ford Focus. Petrols are rare. Diesel is the best choice.
Residual values: When new, the 308 wasn't expensive compared with rivals but suffered from being priced too similarly to them. For that and other reasons, residuals dropped more rapidly. Values for four-year-olds are typically around €1,000 behind category leaders. Still, I wouldn't let this put you off as it has suffered most of the heavy depreciation already.
Cabin: There's a big selection of trim levels. SE was popular and usually runs a premium of around €500 on the S. The SE has, additionally, air con and front fog lights. The interior is spacious especially with the rear seats folded; there are two ISOFIX points in the back. If you can find an ST within budget, go for it.
Choice: The real difficulty with recommending cars that sold in fewer numbers than market leaders is that they tend not to be readily available. However, with a brand new 308 here, owners of older models will be tempted to change.
Watch out for: Sometimes Peugeots fall foul of minor sensor issues and because the 308 uses a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to reduce emissions, blockages can occur. This isn't a problem unique to Peugeot. If you buy any used diesel car with a DPF, be sure to give it a proper blast up the motorway in third gear every so often. You won't hurt it and it will do it a world of good.
A brand new 308 has just gone on sale here. Much, much better. Puts old one in the shade and you should tell the seller that. Check for mileage and bootlid wear-and tear.
TOYOTA AVENSIS 1.6 VVTI STRATA
Background: Hard to get excited about an old-model Avensis but if you want to protect your €10,000 investment by ensuring strong re-sale value, reliability and affordability to run look no further. I owned one for three years.
Engines: I'm selecting a lot of petrols at this price but it is
to show just how much value there is if you are prepared to trust one. The 1.6 VVTi engine is as tough as they come. It also costs buttons to maintain.
Residual values: The Avensis constantly jostles for top spot as the best for retaining value in its class. It struggled a little last year with some top trim level UK imports but it has bounced back and is in strong demand again. Customers aren't shying away from the 1.6 petrol either. It's fantastic value for money.
Cabin: The one part it doesn't top the charts. Watch out for 'Strata' model which add alloys, air con, multi function steering wheel and some other styling differences over the base Aura. I travelled huge distances in my Avensis and never suffered from tiredness or a numb back. Also, take a look at how many taxi drivers use one as their workhorse.
Choice: The current Avensis arrived in 2009 but there are quite a number of the old models, or "run outs" available. For €10,000 it would be quite a stretch to get into the current shape but you should be able to find a decent 2009 model. If you want to cover insurance costs and tax at this budget then go for a 2008 version - it's virtually identical.
Watch out for: Nothing really. The diesels tend to need a drop of oil more regularly than you might think but in the three years I owned my petrol the most expensive component I had to fork out for was a new clutch - a wear and tear item anyway. The Avensis runs on a timing chain too so that makes it unfussy to maintain.
You will find a lot with big mileage. I'd prefer honest big mileage to lower distorted figures - clocking is always a danger. So buy from a respectable, established dealer. Give the cabin and boot a serious going over. These cars can ship a lot of wear and tear.
Eddie: Aidan, that's three more to be going in with. I think we might have to look at three more next week such is the volume of enquiry.
Aidan: Look forward to it.