Sunday 21 July 2019

Buying a second-hand car? Ask our experts


VW T-Roc
VW T-Roc

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 house.

I have a 08 BMW 318i with low mileage. We do around 12,000km a year. Two small children later and we need more room. I have a €20k budget plus trade in. I'm looking for a good all rounder (both city and motorway driving) with a petrol engine and large boot. Would appreciate your views and advice.

Gillian: The first one popping into my head is the Nissan Qashqai, mainly because it is popular as a petrol so you will find one. A 1.2 one-year-old might just about squeeze into budget for the nice spec SV but for a few extra goodies, you might be better off going for a 171/172 SVE or SV Premium model. I am conscious you are coming out of a BMW 3-series and I have been there. Actually it was when I was expecting my first child and I wanted something with a bigger boot also. I did eventually get into a Nissan but it wasn't my first choice after owning a Beemer. The issue is finding a petrol model to suit.

The likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes and other German brands are still predominantly diesels in the used market at the minute. SEAT might just have your back with the Ateca 1.4. As new it is priced well against the opposition and you should be able to get into a high spec Xcellence model in budget or close enough.

They are scarce though as they only launched in mid-2016 so, if you do find one you like, don't take too long to decide as it most certainly won't hang around for long on any forecourt.

Eddie: I agree with those two but would add fresh versions of the Toyota C-HR petrol (you might squeeze a hybrid) or Peugeot 3008 SUV. Both excellent options but a tad scarce so follow Gillian's advice and act quickly if you find one that suits you.

I'm driving drive a 2003 Opel Astra (155,000 miles). I have a budget of €10,000 to get a used car. My mileage is in the range of 14,000km to 17,000km a year. I would like a car I can travel in from Dublin to Cork and back every two weeks. The rest of the time I will be in Dublin traffic. I want something reliable and with a dealer warranty. I was looking at Corolla, Octavia, Focus and Golf. Should I be considering a diesel car or another make? Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Gillian: Diesel yes and the four makes you mention will have you covered. For reliability, they are all solid and depending on where you buy, you will be given a standard warranty but also given the opportunity to extend this if you like.

Make sure to buy from a reputable dealer, check for a good (if not full) service history and make sure that the mileage isn't too far off the average. Many buyers fall into the trap of a cheap deal and ignore the miles on the clock and then at resale time, find they are in trouble.

Okay, so back to the best value model for your €10k. I'm thinking the Octavia for you. A 131 Ambition model should have around 120,000km on the clock and would be a comfy ride for your bi-weekly commute. There is a new model Octavia out now but the 131 was the first of the last model shape so it still has a fairly fresh look about it.

Then I would be going Focus, again you would be looking at a 131 in a Zetec (or even better Titanium). The Golf and Corolla would need to be older models and in a 12 plate and so for that reason alone, I have them at the end of my list.

Eddie: Great choices, but I'm adding the KIA cee'd and the Honda Civic diesels. Watch for signs of wear and tear around the clutch, brake and accelerator which might suggest a lot of stop-start work the car has done.

I have a 2008 Citroen Berlingo Multispace car, petrol, 5-seater, mileage 110,000km. I'm looking to trade it in for hopefully a 181 car, with similar boot space/style (the back seat folds down and backwards so that it is then similar to a van). My budget is up to €20,000. I note that the current Citroen Berlingo is diesel but I wish to stay with a petrol.

Gillian: Every model I thought of (and there were many) were only available as diesels and especially around the money you are talking. There are some 191 petrol options that recently came to the market but you would need to increase the budget another €5k.

I am not a massive fan of the Multispace styling so I hope you like my choices, the first being the Honda HR-V 1.5, which includes the Honda 'magic seat' (their name for it, not mine. The base model SE sits right in budget and when the seats are folded flat it would be hard to find something to beat it for space.

The Ford Eco-Sport 1.0 is another option. Like the Honda, the rear seats can be split 60:40 and they can fold completely flat. A new model starts at €23,525 for the Titanium model and while they only launched the new model late 2017, there should be a 181 in a Ford dealership somewhere.

I am aware these models are more car-like than the Citroen, but the need for petrol is totally limiting you. If you did have the extra €5k, take a look at Peugeot's new Rifter range. Available as a 1.2 petrol, it might just be what you are after.

Eddie: You are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole through your budget and insistence on petrol. I would not advocate that you buy the Eco-Sport - I dislike the car a lot. So the Honda is an option but - for me? - not really. I think it's too much of a compromise. So I'd either change my mind about diesel or try to wiggle another €5,000 and open up the option for the likes of the Rifter.

I need a small car to get to work 10km from my home. I have €8,000 to spend and don't need it for anyone other than myself and occasionally my parents. I am 25 and haven't owned a car before so I am totally bewildered over what to buy.

Gillian: If you haven't owned a car before and you don't need a standard family car just yet, then I would suggest a hatchback petrol model. Ford Focus, Seat Leon and Toyota Corolla or Auris would be my first go-to choices.

There will be plenty to choose from. The Leon is probably the best value for money. For €8k you should be able to find a 131 which is still the current model Leon, so looks fresh still. You might need to stretch the budget a smidgen more to get the higher spec Style model but you do have the option of going for a 3d in this one, which looks great.

The Focus 1.0 has a turbo engine and you will need to go a year older in this one but it is a super car and as a first car, it's a great buy. Look around for the Zetec model. The Corolla and Auris are sound models too, the Auris has nicer styling in my opinion.

You will need to go for a 12 plate and it is an older model but one that will give you little hassle once you buy from a reputable dealer and know some history on it.

If you find these a bit big for you now, then all three brands have smaller and just as reliable options with the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and Toyota Yaris. The great news is you have lots of choice so take a spin in a good few and enjoy the experience of buying your first car.

Eddie: My out-and-out selection would be a well-minded Honda Jazz. Regardless of age - pay more attention to the mileage - it should give you less trouble than most and it's just the right size and solidity for you. Get a minimum six-month warranty with any older car you buy.

My PCP on my Volkswagen Passat is up soon. My mileage (20,000km a year) will drop to 12,000km or so from June. Will that make a big difference? Or should I bother with PCP at all now I am on lower mileage? I see where credit unions are giving far more car loans. I would like to own a car again. What do you think?

Gillian: If you own a Passat diesel, which I presume you do when you were covering 20,000km/yr, then yes the drop to 12,000km/yr doesn't call for another diesel. You will need to find out what equity you have in the car at the end of the PCP term to fully determine if you should go with it again or not. If you want to own a car again then maybe the credit union or a private banking loan is the way to go.

This will depend entirely on what amount money we are talking, interest rates applicable etc and how much monthly repayments you can afford.

The Passat comes as a petrol starting at €30,795 for the Trendline model. I'm not sure of your circumstances, but do take a look at the VW T-Roc range. Starting at €25,150 for the base model 1.0 TSi, it might be a nice change from the Passat.

Eddie: I don't think you need a PCP for that mileage but you should explore all avenues. See what a PCP will cost on the lower mileage. I think you might be (pleasantly) surprised. See what a credit union or bank loan will cost you too. Ultimately you should compare closely and try to value how much you wish to own rather than have the use of a car.

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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.

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