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Be prepared: Here are key tips for buying new or second-hand


Photo posed

Photo posed

Photo posed

Lots of queries we get from people seem to suggest they can be a bit overawed by a number of factors when it comes to buying a car, new or used.

Let's go through them to see if we can disentangle the mystery a little bit - there is a pattern to the questions we get.

First of all, lots of people are looking for more space as families expand. This is a recurring theme.

A parallel problem, however, is how do they dispose of their own car (often quite old)?

My advice is to not just buy a bigger car that fits the family now. Buy one that will still fit them in two or three years - they grow up quickly.

Trading in is often best with older cars. Really, you are getting nothing for them. Trying to sell privately can be time-consuming and intrusive.

It is amazing, but people still get insulted if told the truth about the real value of their car.

I repeat, just concentrate on how much it costs to change when you are comparing quotes.

Which of course brings around the oldest cliché in the business: shopping around. You will be more than surprised at what a few checks or phone calls can yield.

I'm sure you've anticipated what the next big factor is. Yes, diesel or petrol? Look, it's horses for courses. More than 20,000km a year is still diesel, not petrol, but maybe hybrid.

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Problems remain where you need a seven-seater. There are few choices other than diesel, but that is improving.

Speaking (again) of seven-seaters, they are now a constant question theme. Parents like to have the reserve of occasional use of the extra row.

There is no doubt that hybrids have broken through big-time into the public consciousness. I'd say every second query has a hybrid element to it in some shape or form. The advice is the same: horses for courses.

If you are in stop-start or urban traffic a fair bit of the time, hybrids have to be considered. I get the sense a lot of people putting up 15,000km to 20,000km are using hybrid as a stepping stone from diesel to electric vehicles.

The latter feature more and more prominently. Despite serious concerns over infrastructure, people are saying they'd consider an EV.

I tell them to do a 'mock' week in one and see how they fare. By that I mean, log your own diesel/petrol mileage (stop, starts etc) and see if an EV dovetails with your patterns. Check the real-world mileage of, say, a Nissan Leaf as a guide too.

Budget is an obvious theme, but you would be surprised at the number of people who start off planning to spend €12,000 and end by saying they could go another €5,000/€7,000 if the right (second-hand) model came along.

I advise that they set a limit from the start - be it the upper or lower - and stick to it, otherwise you can end up going for the fancier trim for the sake of a few hundred more. Then you like the look of the 142-reg more than the 131-reg and start thinking the newer car would be worth the extra few thousand. It probably is, and I wouldn't discourage you, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

I've had instances where people took on more than they could chew and found themselves in a right bind.

You always want to leave a good cushion between what you pay and what you can afford.

Buying an import gets a lot of attention. There are so many outlets down here now that are taking the pain out of having to go North or to England by selling the cars in situ.

You should buy from a reputable source who has the ability to take care of you if something goes wrong.

The lines are now blurred between pricing of Irish cars and imports, so buy whatever gets you most value.

Most important thing of all to do is to be as prepared as possible. We get lots of queries from people whose old car is giving trouble. That means they are on the back foot from the get-go in terms of what they can buy quickly.

Don't wait until it's must-do. Start preparing to buy your next car well in advance.