Saturday 17 March 2018

Car for two pets? Sell privately? BMW switch? New job car? Starter's trio?


BMW 4-series Gran Coupe
BMW 4-series Gran Coupe

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car. Aidan visits dealers all over the country to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who supply a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. Eddie is author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'.

I'm looking for a car or SUV with fold-down, completely flat seats for myself and two medium-sized dogs. I want something that can change back to a normal car when I need to give lifts to people without the hassle of vacuuming out the car each time. Budget is around €14,000 with a low tax band a bonus. No real trade-in as I have a Fiat Stilo 2005 that is worth little. I do about 6,000 miles a year and would prefer an automatic transmission.

Aidan: Pets must be properly restrained and, to the best of my knowledge, that precludes putting them in the rear cargo area to roam about freely. There are guidelines on how best to handle them. While they might seem a bit draconian, remember, it wasn't all that long ago that seatbelts for people became mandatory.

I think the best approach is to buy a seat cover for the rear seats and remove it any time you want to bring human company. It's not just a legal consideration, it is for the benefit and safety of you and your lovely woofers.

A Toyota Auris Hybrid or Prius would be ideal here. I reckon your budget will just about sneak you into a new shape 2013-plate Auris Hybrid. The boot in the new model Auris is better than the old one, so you will still have room for shopping and other bits should you need it when the car is fully occupied. The Prius is bigger again but your budget won't go as far in one.

An odd and rare but eminently sensible choice would be a VW Golf SV with a 1.2-litre TSi petrol engine with a DSG gearbox. It's a mouthful, but it's basically a big Golf with a petrol engine and an automatic gearbox. It would be ideal for you.

Eddie: It's simple. Your pets can NOT be allowed to roam around the cabin when you are driving. If you stop suddenly, they become lethal projectiles that will injure you or themselves.

I suggest you buy a small estate. Pay someone to fit a mesh division cordoning off the luggage compartment and to fit a harnesses for your dogs. Make it comfortable for them there (so long as they are properly restrained), but not in the cabin. They will still be with you, but in their own area and passengers won't be bothered with dog hairs.

Buy a Skoda Fabia Combi or a KIA cee'd SW. Factor the cost of the extra work into your budget.

Would you explain why I'd be better off selling my 05 Golf privately? I want to buy a three-year-old Golf diesel as I believe diesel is the best for me even though I do only 15,000km a year. Surely a good garage will be able to dispose of the old car better than me? I'm 55 and single. Don't suggest petrol. I'm sticking with diesel.

Aidan: Maybe you wouldn't be better off selling your car privately. When Eddie and I recommend such a course of action, it is usually for a few specific reasons, chief among them being the age and mileage of the car, which might make more sense to be disposed of privately as to trade it in could reduce bargaining power in comparison to a straight cash deal.

It's like buying a house as a cash buyer versus an owner who must sell first. Sellers want a quick transaction and dealers are the same with cars deemed too old or costly to retail again.

Another reason not to sell privately is if you think it would make you uncomfortable having to deal with answering calls. It can be a nuisance for many, so trade your car in to a dealer. No issues from me. If you think a diesel Golf is best, then go for it. Look for a Highline version if you can. They're extra lovely.

Eddie: Spot on, Aidan. Get your garage to sell your car. Buy a Golf diesel. Keep hassle to a minimum.

I have a BMW 318d M-Sport picked up new in July 2016 (162 reg). I plan on changing next year due to the mileage and I like to change every two or so years. My commute to work is 200km return 2/3 days a week, plus weekend driving. The odometer reads 48,000km. About 80pc of my commute is motorway and the rest decent regional roads.

I've no inclination to buy new, not with the mileage I do. I plan going for a pre-reg/ex-demo/used with a good warranty. I have a budget of about €45,000-€50,000 including trade-in. I like the look and drive of the 3-Series. I'm open to going down the hybrid route if you think that might be viable. I'm open to the idea of something like one-year-old 4 or 5 Series. Any advice at all will help.

Aidan: Unless you change brand, your choice is somewhat limited. That's not a bad thing. The 3-Series obviously won't stretch your budget to its fullest and if it isn't broke, why fix it? Perhaps opt for a 320d diesel with an automatic transmission if you fancy something of a change but nothing too radical.

If you go for a 4 Series or 5 Series, I encourage you to stick with auto. The 4 Series Gran Coupe is lovely and an ex-demo should insulate you from the first hit of depreciation. A one-year-old certainly will. I still think diesel is right, so what about a new model, ex-demo Mercedes E220 Avantgarde auto? The new version is a fine bit of metal. If you really want to change, look at the Lexus RC300h. It's a hybrid coupe. Probably a stretch, but you seem open to something new.

Eddie: Buy yourself a 420d. Style, good fuel consumption and a lovely drive into the bargain. My theme this week is 'minimise the hassle'. You have a BMW. Buy a fresh 420d that has lost a chunk of its value already.

I have a 2011 Yaris petrol and it has small mileage (55,000km) as I only drive it 10km to work and 10km back most weeks and a little at the weekend. I'm now changing jobs and my drive will be a 50km round-trip. Still not bad but should I change now or wait another year? I have €15,000 of a budget plus my own. And what should I buy? Any help appreciated.

Aidan: If you are happy with your Yaris, I can't find a compelling argument for you to change other than because you want to, which is perfectly fine. Your car is still fresh and I am sure you look after it and get it properly serviced.

With your new commute, you will put 12,500km up on it over the next 12 months. That means next year your seven-year-old Yaris will have 67,500km on it. It is still a fantastic prospect for a trade-in.

If you think you want to change now, another Yaris is best. Test the water and see what deal you can muster. It will be a good one. Your car is highly prized and you're shopping with a budget in a highly competitive market. Just don't be afraid to hold off. There is nothing wrong with driving your car for another bit.

Eddie: One step at a time. Get used to your new route and commute and maybe go buy a new one next July (182-reg). Your car is fresh and will be in demand, so take your time.

I'm starting out, 23 years old, and I can afford to buy a small car for around €7,000. My daily mileage will be 40km in total, plus whatever I drive in the evenings and at weekends. Please give me three to look at for that money.

Aidan: Be sure that you are not blowing your whole budget on the car and that you have factored insurance into the equation. I see no problem with city cars.

The newer model Hyundai i10 will be just out of budget here so look at the SEAT Mii, Skoda Citigo or VW up! They are essentially the same car. The specs to watch for are a Mii SE, a Citigo Ambition and a VW Move up! If you want something a bit bulkier, go for an Opel Corsa 1.2 SC. A 2011 with decent mileage should be on the cards. It would be a good idea to get into the habit of buying cars with warranty and from reputable dealers. You're just starting out with cars. Don't let them become a nuisance because other people haven't properly taken care of them before you. And always get the car serviced. I promise it will stand to you in the long run.

Eddie: Three cars leap out at me for you: a second-hand Dacia Sandero (basic but cheap), an 11-reg KIA Rio (vastly underrated car) and a good used Ford Fiesta (lots of choice).

Pay heed to Aidan on leaving something to cover tax and insurance.

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.

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