Wednesday 22 November 2017

Car for disabled driver; a Note of concern; should I fix or finance?

A driver who qualifies for disabled driver exemptions is looking to change car. Photo: Getty Images
A driver who qualifies for disabled driver exemptions is looking to change car. Photo: Getty Images

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car.

I am a man in my-mid seventies, driving a 2008 automatic Nissan Primera. I qualify for disabled driver exemptions (VRT, etc) as I have a prosthetic left leg.

I am retired and my annual mileage is quite low at around 10,000km. I would like your suggestions on a replacement new car.

My priorities are: height for ease of entry/exit; ease of parking (mostly city driving) and good all-round visibility. I have been toying with buying a crossover but most of them are too big for my needs.

Aidan: A crossover (Qashqai, etc) sounds like overkill for you. There is actually quite a strong selection of small, automatic transmission petrol cars with good seat height in the market now.

If you want to remain with the Nissan brand, then look at the Note. There is only one automatic petrol option (the 1.2 SC SV CVT) so that helps to simplify things. The Note has a tall seating position, spacious cabin and comfortable seats. Annual motor tax is just €200 as well.

Peugeot's 2008 is definitely a firm contender for being the most suitable car for your wants and needs. Its frugal little 1.2 petrol engine is perfect for your town driving. The steering doesn't have too much weight to it either, so parking won't be a chore. It reads well on paper but performs even better in the metal. Again, seating position is crucial and the 2008 is favoured by many who want to be upright without having to climb into an SUV or crossover or, indeed, spend that kind of money. Go for the ETG5 Ecomatique version.

I'm a big fan of the Honda Jazz. The latest model has a lovely 1.3 VVTi petrol engine and you have a choice of three specification grades with the CVT auto gearbox, SE, ES, and EX. Go for the halfway house ES model.

Eddie: You certainly do not need a crossover. You need a tall-ish supermini. Buy the Honda Jazz. The automatic (CVT) transmission isn't the world's greatest but I think the Jazz package nudges the others on a variety of elements important for you.

It's not cheap by any means but will last and last. And when you come to sell, it will be in demand.

I have a Nissan Note 141 on a PCP. Annual mileage is 15,000km. I need to borrow €6,500 for the final payment due in February.

I love the Note except for one problem. The interior constantly fogs over in winter unless the A/C is on. Then the feet perish. Having read some of your previous guidelines I am wondering which is the best option - buy outright or upgrade to a new car with improved emissions and possibly a lower monthly payment. The current monthly payment is €240. Thanks for your words of wisdom

Aidan: I hate to sound like I am stating the obvious, but there is a function for directing warm air at the windscreen and also towards your feet. It doesn't need to be cold air.

I'm also not passing the buck back to you but this is ultimately your decision, so let me ask you a couple of questions. Do you want to change car?

Have you costed the monthly repayments of the €6,500 buyout figure from different finance providers (banks, the Credit Union, etc)?

If you are on a very low APR rate then your monthly repayments could go up on the final balance if the APR rate on the new loan is higher.

If you buy the car outright, are you happy to keep the car for another while or are you inclined to change immediately?

I don't know what model Note you are driving but your GMFV (or balloon payment as you are considering it) of €6,500 looks reasonable, so potentially there is good equity in the car.

It's hard to tell from arm's reach but the number stacks up okay in my estimation.

So, go back to your dealer and see if they have anything that excites you. Would you move into a Juke for a change?

You could go to other brands and see what sort of trade-in allowance they offer on your car.

Among other options, if you get a loan for the final balance, you are free to go anywhere. But do your homework first. No point buying the car outright if there is a great deal to be had by sticking with your Nissan dealer. Give them first crack of the whip.

Eddie: I think you can kill two birds with one stone if my instincts are correct.

You shouldn't need to borrow €6,500 if your PCP deal is properly set up for you to start over with a new deal without it costing you much at all.

If you are happy with the Note (one exception) why not do the following?

Explore the figures that would enable you to take a new 171-reg Note on PCP as a renewal of your existing deal.

Even if it is a few euro a month more, it is preferable, in my estimation, because you would be in a better position than borrowing to pay off a lump sum on a three-year-old car.

But before you sign anything, check that your next car gets the all-clear with that fogging-up problem you are worried about.

So basically: stick with a new (non-fogging) Note on a similar PCP repayment schedule to your existing one.

By the way, if there is a huge difference in repayments under the new deal, there is something wrong and tell them that. There won't be, I'm sure. Come back to us if there is.

I read your column and have picked up some great buying tips and understanding.

I appreciate the time pressure involved in this exercise so don't feel the need to provide great detail in your response.

I currently own a much-loved 02 Toyota Corolla 1.4 petrol VVTi with 140,000 miles. I no longer use it for the work commute and it's very much our second car after purchasing a Verso in 2015 to cart around our family of four, plus friends/extended family.

Annual mileage is probably 10,000km max.

The clutch is in a bad way in the Corolla and I'm dreading the day it doesn't start or breaks down.

My work situation is changing and will mean me using a car (not the Verso) for a daily commute (30km round trip).

For these reasons, I'm looking at a scrappage deal. I've never bought a new car and I'm concerned about PCP finance and all that is involved.

I'm looking at a small engine car (1-litre) and the ability to occasionally fit the four family members in.

I have no deposit and so am looking at offers where one is not required. The Hyundai scrappage deal for the i10 is appealing to me.

Aidan: This is a common question. PCP is nothing to be feared. It either suits your individual circumstances (or preferences) or it doesn't. The first P in the acronym stands for Personal. I think too many people forget that. If it suited everybody it would be an ECP deal (Everybody Contract Plan).

I can see why you are drawn to it. You don't have a deposit so you want to use your car as part of a scrappage deal. That makes sense.

You need a small car, so you are looking at the Hyundai i10. Again, good choice.

Now you need to figure out a few things. First, is the monthly repayment on the i10 workable? Second, will you be in a position at the end of the loan term to buy the car outright if you are not happy with the new deal offered? Third, would the monthly repayments on the i10 be better used on another used Corolla with lower mileage and warranty?

Lastly, if all that is wrong with the Corolla is its clutch, then are you better off fixing it and driving it on for another while?

I prefer to guide you to a solution but I know a man who will bring the hammer down on one side of the fence or the other. Eddie, what do you say?

Eddie: It's all utterly dependent on the scrappage deal giving you enough for a deposit.

It should, but I think it will be tight and your repayments may be a bit higher as a result. I like the Hyundai i10. It will suit you down to the ground.

Why would you spend money on a clutch for the Corolla? Great car but it is 15 years old. And other little things (costs all add up) will probably start to go too. Time to shift it. That car owes you nothing.

So it's Scrappage deal; new car; no worries.

Just make absolutely certain you can meet the repayments and you are aware of everything you are signing up for.


WE love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all queries in as full a manner as this due to time and space restraints. We try to deal with as many as possible via email. But you can help us help you if you make sure to include the following critical elements in your query:

* Total budget.

* Annual mileage.

* Size of car required (number of seats).

* Present car (make, model, year and mileage).

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