Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Our experts answer your questions
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 currently have an 08 Renault Laguna, 1.5 diesel (321,000km). It is going well. Due to a change of job, I no longer have a long commute, but I do need to tow a 2-tonne trailer, occasionally. The problem is a big 4x4 diesel is not cost effective and the short daily commute of 10km each way is not considered healthy for a big diesel engine. What to do?
Gillian: You haven't mentioned budget but you should find something in the following suggestions. If you don't want to go SUV, a great car for the job is the Skoda Superb with a towing capacity of 2,000kg. Other suitable options are a BMW 5-series or Mercedes E-Class estate. But the Superb will be less costly.
If SUVs are a runner then look at the Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Ateca and to be honest any SUV that has a 4WD option available. Just check with the dealer for its towing capacity. If you do want a petrol and have more than €30,000, Honda's new CR-V 1.5-litre has a towing capacity of 2,000kg. And while it's a bit revvy uphill, it will do the job for occasional use.
Eddie: Just be careful with the whole towing issue. Check you are licensed to tow as much as you need. Did you tow with the Laguna? If you did then I suggest you take Gillian's advice and go for the Skoda Superb. It's big, powerful machine but not as wasteful as some larger SUV diesels.
Q Please advise me on buying a small car for a person with limited agility and flexibility (slide in/out as distinct from sitting down into seat). I want a smaller engine, travel about 20,000km a year and a small-size car for easy parking, etc. I have a budget of €10,000 -€12,000 including my trade-in.
Gillian: A Nissan Juke springs to mind. It was available in a 1.2 engine from mid-2014 and you will pick one of these up for your budget. In fact, you should be able to find a 151/152 for under €12,000. It's small and tall, but is an acquired taste. I really like them but not everyone does.
The Dacia Duster is a good 1.5 diesel and good value for money, high off the ground and easy to park. The Renault Captur comes in petrol or diesel, is easy to manoeuvre in and out and is similarly priced to the other two.
Eddie: I think they are excellent choices. I think the Duster is value and surprisingly easy to get into and exit. I would also try the smaller Toyota Yaris which many people tell me suits them better for getting in and out than most.
Another excellent small prospect is the Hyundai i20x if you can get your hands on one. As a total outside-the-box option the Ford B-MAX, with no pillars in the middle, is a scarce car but might suit you.
Q Should I buy in the North now before Brexit or will prices fall even more up there? I am in the market for a three-year-old Audi A4, Volkswagen Passat or something of that size. I have €15,000 to spend and there will be no trade-in because I'm passing my current car to a family member for a nominal sum. How come you so rarely suggest going north to buy? It is where the bargains are. Looking forward to your reply.
Gillian: I suggest going North for certain models; not all. With no trade-in and looking for an Audi, it could work in your favour but there are plenty of deals down South that will provide a local reassurance should something go wrong. You have a good budget to work with and if your friends have made reliable connections up there, then go for it. As for Brexit, the show must go on in the meantime so if you want to change now, I say go for it.
Eddie: You are asking a question that would make me a millionaire many times over if I knew the answer to it. You could buy at the right time now or get a better deal in six months. It is imponderable.
I think measures in the Budget will make older imports less attractive but I don't see much difference out there for newer models. My advice, for what it is worth, is to see where you can buy your three-year-old Audi for the best money - on as like-for-like basis as you can. Check mileage, spec and general condition. Then buy whatever is best value at this point in time.
And remember if all car prices fall, the cost of changing to a newer model will most likely stay the same anyway.
Q Our two small children (4, 2) need more room than my Toyota Auris petrol (14-reg) will allow. If I were to add €10,000 to whatever I would get for the Auris as a trade-in, what would you advise me to buy? I don't want a people carrier. I want a small SUV with good room and boot space. I drove a friend's Qashqai for an afternoon recently and was delighted with the high-seating and how it made me feel safer. Any advice welcomed.
Gillian: I think the car I recommend the most is the Nissan Qashqai. I bought one when my two kids were small and held onto it for four years. The newer model is even bigger so I would suggest you start there. Your budget should get you into a well-specced 2017, 1.2 model (depending on spec and condition of your current car). If you want to stick with petrol, your choices are limited in the SUV market with under €20k to spend.
The Hyundai Tucson sold mainly in diesel but there was a 1.6 petrol model that if you could find an Executive spec, would be a great choice. The Seat Ateca would be good too.
Eddie: Let's assume the Qashqai is a front runner; but there are so many options. I like the KIA Sportage too. I think it is well worth a look.