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 am looking to change my car. I have been driving a 2003 Mazda2 1.2-litre petrol for the last nine years and it has served me well; generally used as a city car so no big mileage (3,000km a year max). I am now expecting twins so definitely need to change the car. We have a good sized main car but I am likely to be doing most of the city driving with the twins. So, our requirements are a solid, reliable car that can fit two car seats, a double buggy in the boot and a tall husband who needs to sit in the front. My budget is an absolute max of €12,000. I don't expect I'll get much of a trade-in with the Mazda. As I am going from a 1.2 engine I would prefer not to increase too drastically, not really needed for driving around town anyway - possibly 1.4 or 1.6.
Gillian: You mention you want an SUV, which is great as most people think: "I am having a baby, I need an SUV." That isn't always the best option, especially if you need a large boot. For comfort for hubbie, a small/average petrol engine and large boot I would suggest a Skoda Octavia or Honda Civic. Both solid, reliable and for €12,000 you should pick up a 151 model. If you were thinking of a larger body, then a saloon is a good option for your budget. The majority will be diesel which you might not want/need. I know I mention this one almost every week but here I go again: the Nissan Qashqai would be near the top of my list. They are scarce and you would need to go for the base XE model but if you can find one (make sure it's a 1.2 new model with around 90,000kms), I would snap it up.
Eddie: I don't care what anyone says: people-carriers (MPVs) still do this business the best of the lot. So think the Ford C-MAX; think Nissan Note as well; Toyota Verso, Volkswagen Touran. You'll get far better value and more room, something you'll need increasingly as the babbies grow, please God.
Q My daughter is going to work in the North and hoping to buy a car there. She starts this month. Will Brexit have any effect on her bringing the car into the State VRT free next year when her contract ends? She is due to finish in Belfast in October next year.
Eddie: So long as she owns the car for more than six months she should be OK but things may change on the Brexit front. We just don't know what sort of ramifications may arise from it or from the next Budget down here so she will be best advised to check with the local tax office just to be sure.
Q We're a family of five with two cars. I have a 2005 VW Beetle, 1.4-litre petrol with 125,000km. Now I'm itching to get something newer after 13 years. I would love a five-door Mini. I've been looking at 2014-2016 petrol models, possibly importing from the UK. However, the Beetle is our family's second car used mainly by me; my husband thinks we should just hang on until it gives up, considering it's worth little now. We also have a seven-seater, 2011 Ford S-MAX Titanium 1.6l diesel with nearly 200,000km (imported six years ago). We were thinking of also holding on to this for another couple of years until the kids get a bit older, before upgrading (probably to a five-seater SUV). Budget is €13,000 in addition to any trade in values. Should we think about doing this now with one of the cars or just wait? Making the right decision from a financial point of view is important to us.
Gillian and Eddie: From a financial point of view, it might be best to keep what you have if they aren't giving you any trouble and continue to save and add to the €13,000. From a personal point of view, if you want to change and have the itch to, then go for it; 13 years is a long stint with any car, even a funky Beetle. There is no point in mentioning "standard" cars if you already want a Mini, so get one. We wouldn't blow all €13,000, though; there is no need. There are good value models around. You are coming out of an 05 so we think it's best to spend €11,000 on a 141 model. You have a good start of new savings for when you decide to change up the S-MAX, plus whatever you get for the Beetle, which we suggest you sell privately for the best value.
Q There are just the two of us but we have three dogs of a giant breed. I have a commercial 2015 Ford Transit Custom 2.2l (110,000km), probably worth around €10,000. The problem is I don't have a VAT number, so I pay private tax on it - €980 a year. So I am looking for something like an MPV, or long wheel-base vehicle or similar (non-commercial) that has rear fold-flat (or nearly) seats or ones whose rear seats can be easily removed. If I was in the US there are a multitude of vehicles that would suit. A commercial vehicle is the obvious choice, but would be tax-prohibitive unless it had a 1.6 or 1.8 engine. I could just about afford €5000 but not €980 per year. Any ideas?
Gillian: You are on the right track with an MPV. The models that spring to mind for your situation are Opel Zafira and Ford S-MAX. Both have seats that fold completely flat to give you large space in the rear. They are neat and with a good rubber mat on top, sound to me like what you are after. Both have a 1.6 diesel and road tax ranges from around €190-€280 depending on spec so a big saving to be made.
Eddie: I'd go the same way as Gillian and add a Skoda Superb Combi (estate) because there is huge room in it; the rear seats open up a lot of space when folded.
Help us help you
We love getting your enquiries and try to reply to as many as possible here or via email. The ones dealt with here often represent a cross section of individual questions. You can help us help you with our free, independent, advice by including the following in your queries:
⬤ Budget (including trade-in).
⬤ Annual mileage (in kms).
⬤ Size of car required (number of seats).
⬤ Present car (make, model, year and mileage) if relevant.