Sunday 8 December 2019

A car for long run? Hybrid or petrol? Why is my garage not finding faults?

Standard service work is pretty in-depth nowadays.
Standard service work is pretty in-depth nowadays.

Aidan Timmons and Eddie Cunningham

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 son is returning from abroad and will need a newer car than the 2010 Opel Astra hatchback (140,000km) I took over from him (and met the repayments).

He has €15,000 to spend on a two/three year old but will be doing a lot of driving. What would you advise? Is one of those PCP deals out of the question?

Aidan: Just how much driving is "a lot of driving"?

The Guaranteed Minimum Future Value (GMFV), which is pivotal to PCP (Personal Contract Plan) deals, is conditional on an average mileage stipulation set out by each manufacturer.

Check the terms and conditions for this.

To accurately calculate a likely future residual value, manufacturers/lenders need to work within mileage parameters.

Values of cars are inherently linked to their age and mileage. So, if your son goes way beyond the average mileage of a normal PCP contract, it would have implications for his repayments or the amount of equity he takes into his next deal.

This is a bit of a long-winded way of telling your son to investigate this further with a dealer.

They are better placed to let him know what impact his mileage will have on the PCP deal.

If it all works out; then it's a route worth considering. Neither the buyer nor seller want a nasty shock at the end of the loan period.

The alternative is to buy a secondhand, low-mileage diesel car with lots of warranty left.

That brings in cars from Hyundai and Kia.

If a midsize hatchback suits then look at the Kia cee'd or the Hyundai i30. The Kia comes with seven years/150,000km warranty.

If your son can get a cee'd SW (estate) then all the better. It's a practical, well kitted out, reliable machine. Kias aren't scared of covering high mileage.

Nor are Hyundais. The i30 SW is similar to the cee'd SW so it really comes down to taste and availability.

Hyundais come with five years, unlimited mileage warranty. With €15,000 at his disposal, your son should find some 2013 plate vehicles within reach.

Eddie: It is critical to know the mileage as Aidan has pointed out but I am going to assume you will find a PCP deal is not for you.

If your son is going to be doing a lot of mileage then diesel is the only option and apart from the two Aidan has mentioned, I suggest he does a fair bit of trying and testing a few others.

He needs to be aware that price is not everything here.

If he's behind the wheel for long periods the car needs to tick a lot of boxes: safety, comfort, room - as well as good fuel consumption.

Have a look at the Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Opel Astra, Peugeot 308 and SEAT Leon.

That will give you a good feel of what is out there.

I can't emphasise enough that he needs to try them out for a while rather than just sitting in and taking a 10-minute drive.

See if the dealer will let him take an hour or two with the car.

I would like to buy something in the €40,000 range and am intrigued by hybrids.

But because I don't do a lot of driving other than around town and 30km to my daughter twice a week would I be better off sticking with my petrol Toyota Auris?

Aidan: Like most things, this is a needs-versus-wants argument.

You probably don't need anything more than a 1.2 turbo petrol Toyota Auris.

Honestly, it would suit you down to the ground. Kit one out with a few luxuries and you will have a motor that will serve you well and, barring exceptional circumstances, be highly desirable when the time comes to trade it back in again.

On the other hand, you seem to want a hybrid. I understand that. I am the exact same with golf and camera equipment. I don't need new clubs or a new camera but the shiny new things are out now and I like having shiny new things.

There is an Auris hybrid. And it won't cost you anywhere near your €40,000 budget. You will do well to spend €30,000 on one.

I think the new Prius might be overkill for you. There are a few other interesting options, one such being the VW Golf GTE.

It is a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), which is conveniently self explanatory. It's a 1.4 litre petrol hybrid that you can charge up by plugging it in. Standard hybrids recharge by using the kinetic energy created from braking.

A generator converts this energy into electricity and it is stored in the car's additional batteries. The batteries in a Golf GTE and other PHEVs can be charged from a mains socket.

So, you could essentially run your car like a full electric vehicle on short blasts but undertake longer spins without having to recharge because the engine will take over. If it sounds complicated then rest assured that you simply get in, push the start button, stick the automatic transmission (all hybrids are autos) into drive and go.

Driving a hybrid or PHEV does not require a re-education in driving.

Having said all of that, I have a feeling that the Auris hybrid will do enough to sway you.

It allows you to stick your toe in the semi-electric vehicle world without making too much of a financial commitment over a regular petrol car.

Eddie: I'm all for saving on fuel but my blunt answer to your question is that yes you are, on balance, better off sticking with what you have.

It's not like you are going to be in the car for lengthy periods or that you will be able to benefit in a major fashion for 'electric only' driving.

Sure, there will be a feel-good factor with your new toy. But I think you have to balance your outlay against that and ask if you could find a better way to spend or use your money.

How can I be sure my garage has carried out all the maintenance and repairs that I have been charged for? I've had to go back twice with small things within a few days of work being done on it. What would you advise?

Aidan: Do I understand you correctly that you had to go back for remedial work on items for which you were charged but that weren't done? Or, did some other things go wrong within a few days of you collecting the vehicle?

I hope you can see the difference between those two things. If it's the first one, then you need to have a stern word with the service manager. That should not happen. Oversights occur and mistakes can be made. Any reasonable personal can accept that. Once. But twice?

Have a word if that is indeed the case.

If, however, you had work carried out on the car but some other issues have now raised their heads then you might simply be a victim of inconvenient timing.

Standard service work is pretty in-depth nowadays but still, the odd thing can seem fine on a Monday and then fail on a Wednesday. That's the nature of cars and their thousands of mechanical parts. You can't legislate in those instances. You sound calm, which is great. Keep a level head and approach the garage accordingly.

Eddie: I think there is something not quite right with this situation. Either your car is sprouting faults at a phenomenal rate or the garage is doing the bare minimum and not alerting you to possible faults.

If something walks and quacks like a duck the chances are it is one. In this case I sniff a mad-busy garage that is stretched to the limit. Or is it a one-man operation that can't keep up?

Garages are busy these days with staff shortages and big throughputs of cars but most do an excellent job. You seem to have an exception.

My advice is you do as Aidan says and talk to the service manager or whoever is responsible.

If you are not happy with the outcome, take your business elsewhere.

I know that is not an easy thing to do but you are at a stage now where your car's minor faults are becoming a major issue and I suspect you don't feel confident or at ease any more. That has got to be stopped.


We love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all of them in as full a manner as we do on this page due to time and space restraints. We try to deal with as many as possible via email. But you can help 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).

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