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Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Our experts answer your questions

Independent Advice Desk


Like for like: Usually you get a better deal if you trade like for like brand models

Like for like: Usually you get a better deal if you trade like for like brand models

Like for like: Usually you get a better deal if you trade like for like brand models

Car-value expert Gillian Keogh teams up with Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham to help you make the right choice with your next purchase. Gillian is Editor of a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars produced by the Motor Trade Publishers team. The team supplies a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses.

Q I am encouraged to write to you after reading your advice on a car swap between a son and his father. My mum is in a similar situation. She drives a four-year-old Volkswagen Golf but unlike your previous correspondent she wants a new Merc and wants me to take her car so she will get a better deal. The only trouble is I am in the market for a people carrier because I am pregnant with our second child. Would I get by in a Golf? I currently drive a 10-year-old Nissan Micra and wonder what I would do with it? She suggested I contact you.

Gillian: A Golf is a good size hatchback, fine for a family with two children. If you buy one, sell the Micra privately. If the km reading is around average (140,000km) and it's been serviced regularly and in good condition, you could get close to €3,000 for it. The Golf should be priced around €12,000-€13,000 (petrol) or €13,000-14,000 (diesel), depending on spec. So you need around €10,000 of your own cash.

Find out what the garage is offering your mum as a trade in against her Merc. And then offer the same - at most. She also needs to find out how much her new car would cost if she was a cash buyer. The cost to change is her concern. If you can buy the car off her by handing over less than €10,000, then it's a good trade. Any more and I would let your mum do her own deal.

Eddie: I don't think a Golf is the answer to your needs: the boot is quite small and with two children you could do with more room. While it would be lovely to swap you have to look at the curtailment it places on you. No, I'd let her sell, or trade in, her car and you do a separate deal with yours. Go for a people carrier or a compact SUV for your children.

Q I'm a 31-year-old who has just passed his test. I have lived mostly in London since the age of 20 and never needed a car. I'm trying to get an idea of what type of car I can realistically get insured on. Have you any advice: staying within x number of years, engine size, etc? I had a deposit ready to go on a Land Rover Discovery 4 and then realised I couldn't get insured.

Gillian: The Discovery was adventurous for someone who has just passed their test. Don't buy something that will cost a lot to run. As well as road tax, insurance, fuel, servicing costs there are unforeseen damages or breakdowns. It's easy to fall for a high-end motor that seems good value for money, but the reality of owning it is a different story. I suggest sticking with a 2-litre engine at most, buying something eight years or younger - not a Japanese import. These should keep any insurance company happy. If you really like the Discovery, how about an Audi Q5 or Volvo XC70. I'm not sure how a Pickup would work for you but it can look impressive with a lift kit and whopper wheels. Something like a Volkswagen Amarok? Really, though, something like a highly specced Volkswagen Passat/Skoda Superb, or a BMW 3 series/Audi 4 are more likely to suit you.

Eddie: What do you need a big 4x4 SUV for? My advice is to buy something relatively small to get in on the car scene and build up an insurance portfolio that will get you into reasonable premiums as quickly as possible. Buy a Honda Civic, Hyundai i30, KIA cee'd, Toyota Corolla/Auris, Mazda3 to name a few, and see how you get on for a year or two. Do NOT buy a big car with a big engine; it will rob you.

Q I am driving a 191 automatic Audi Q2 1.6D SE with only 10,000 on clock. I will be changing it next January. I will probably buy a petrol automatic. My top priority is comfort and economy and approximately the same width as a Q2. I have €15,000 to spend.

Gillian: I love the Q2 but with such low kms on a 191-reg car, you certainly don't need a diesel. If you want to change for something of similar size, then €15,000 could get you a BMW X2 or Mercedes GLA. My order of preference: Q2, GLA, X2.

Eddie: Switch to another Q2 with a small petrol engine. You'll save on price and get a better deal on an Audi-for-Audi basis. Have a look at the Q2's 1-litre TFSI 7spd S-Tronic petrol auto.

Q I am a retired lady driving a 171-D Volkswagen Jetta diesel. I find the seat quite low; as I have a back problem I would love firmer seating. There are 47,000km on it and I have around €11,000 of a budget with my own car.

Gillian: Here I go again, the T-Roc to the rescue. The Jetta wasn't the best at holding onto its value so you will only come up to a 182 in a diesel T-Roc for your €11,000 but as your current km reading is more in line with a petrol car, I think you should look at the 1.0 Design which you should squeeze into 191. The extra height will suit your back. You might not need this size of a car. A new smaller T-Cross might be a better option. A mid-spec Life 1.0 model costs from €25,195 so it might work. The great news about both options is they are expected to hold their value well. SEAT do slightly cheaper alternatives with the Ateca and smaller Arona.

Eddie: You know my liking for the Volkswagen T-Cross but I'd look at the new improved Renault Captur too. Good height; really good seats for your back. The new Nissan Juke is another.

Q I am the second owner of a 161-reg Peugeot 2008 Allure manual with 75,000km. It's in great interior/exterior condition. I'd like to change it to an automatic for mostly city driving and have an additional budget of roughly €5,000. I drive around 6,000km a year. Could you advise on a reliable and relatively fun-to-drive family car as I have two children and need reasonable boot space. How much can I get if I trade in or sell privately?

Gillian: I reckon you could get €11,000 if you sell privately, although depending on what part of the country you live, demand can be high or low for the 2008; let's say €10,000 on a trade-in. So let's work with around €15,000 for a newer family car. Fun can mean different things when it comes to a car from funky styling, to colour, to a bit of extra horsepower etc. Here are some suggestions that offer a good size boot and are automatic. Maybe the Citroen C4 Cactus, which I have never recommended before but it sounds like what you're after. There aren't too many around in automatic but a 181 1.2 high spec model might be out there. A Renault Captur would be my top choice but you will only find an auto in diesel which you don't need and might not want. A better choice might be the Nissan Juke. There is an automatic on the 1.6 engine so a bit of fun on the road too with 188hp. A 171/172 is totally do-able and look for high spec as you are used to your Allure model.

Eddie: Your mileage is quite low and I was tempted to say go for a Mini Countryman but getting a small petrol engine and automatic is a step too far in that. So I suggest you look at an electric car: the Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf. They may not be out-and-out fun-to-drive cars but fresh versions of either will give you loads of torque and should meet your small-family needs. And they are naturally automatic and give you a chance to get into an electric vehicle while cutting running costs.

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