Wednesday 24 January 2018

Downsizing? Horses for courses? Car for special needs son? 7-seater for family?

Our motoring experts offer advice to help you buy wisely
Our motoring experts offer advice to help you buy wisely

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'.

We have a late 2007 Honda CRV-ES automatic (122,000km) to downsize. I have a back problem and need a high driver's seat to avoid trouble getting out. Our budget is €10,000 plus the trade-in. Priorities are: smaller than a Honda CR-V, high-driving position, automatic; new or secondhand, hopefully 2009 or later. Our current annual mileage is 10,000km; mostly around Dublin.

Aidan: You don't mention if your CR-V is petrol or diesel. Petrol CR-Vs were popular enough in 2007. The reason I am picking up on this is because your budget will vary depending on which fuel type you own. Regardless, you don't need diesel now. So, look for a Peugeot 2008.

A brand new model is probably out of the question but there could be a few demonstration 1.2 litre Active 82bhp models around. Ideal for you. Compact footprint but tall seating position.Comes with automatic option. The Nissan Juke also springs to mind. Not everyone's cup of tea but it will suit your requirements. Again, go for petrol.

This means either a new 1.2 (if you can stretch to it) or an older 1.6 litre. Something very niche but which is an intriguing choice is the VW Golf SV. See if you can find a 1.2 TSi automatic. It's basically a Golf that is a bit taller, broader (not too big, though) and more practical. Lastly, look for a petrol Skoda Yeti. Again, not everyone's persuasion but a sensible car for your needs.

Eddie: The KIA Venga is not a car I'd recommend too often but there is a 1.6-litre petrol auto, so it comes into the reckoning. It is small enough inside but has a good driving position. Would you consider a people carrier as the little Opel Meriva has excellent seating and easy access as well as a 6spd auto. Might be worth a look. Also take a look at Ford's B-MAX. It has a 1.6 automatic too. Not many of them about but with no central pillar access is exceptional.

My wife and I have a 2007 Ford Galaxy Zetec from new. We had seven years trouble free but in the past two we've replaced the flywheel, clutch, new exhaust, front shocks and recently we had trouble with engine coolant. Mileage is 240,000km. We have four children (12, 10, 8, 6) so we need a 7-seater. We think the Zetec 150bhp Galaxy is our preferred model based on cost. We are also planning to test drive a Mitsubishi Outlander. The Volkswagen Sharan entry price model seems to start at €43k - more than we hoped to spend. Would you recommend any other brands? My preference would be to trade in our old car rather than sell privately. We'd like to buy soon with the winter looming. Buying a 162 rather than waiting for 171 might be better value?

Aidan: Buy now. You are going to keep the new car for an extended period and probably run up another big clock on it so the reg plate won't have much bearing when you trade it back in. Capitalise on whatever good deals prevail today. Your car isn't worth much, I am afraid. The trade-in value is largely irrelevant and especially if there is an offer of a minimum trade-in allowance (deal dependant). Instead, focus on your cost to change. I can never stress that enough.

The Galaxy takes some beating. They come well equipped in standard Zetec fare. How about something with rear sliding doors? Great for windy days at the school gates. That brings in the SEAT Alhambra. It has clever rear booster seats, too. It also has a strong 2.0 litre diesel 150bhp engine. The Outlander is a nice choice but a different proposition. I think an MPV is better suited.

Eddie: The new Galaxy is a real proposition though I wasn't as impressed with it as I was the smaller S-MAX which is just that bit too tidy inside for you. The Alhambra is much better priced but is older. Stick with what you know. I would suggest next time trade-in after three/four years if you can at all. It saves you having to come up with a large chunk of money and significantly reduces the chance of big-bill repairs.

I'm a PAYE worker who is a slave to five completely useless horses who are eating me out of house and home. But they're family and I couldn't live without them, so don't go telling me my cheapest solution is to quit my horse habit and buy a Micra. I drive a 2004 Pajero 3.2 diesel. Runs beautifully and I keep it well serviced. The exhaust dropped off last night. There's a warning light for the Safety Restraint System showing on the dash, one of the headlamps isn't focused and the tyres need replacing. And these are just the things I know need doing before its MOT next month. I have a feeling I'll be spending more money on it than I'd get for it and we have reached the point where a decision about our future together needs to be made. What do I go for? Most of my driving is road-based, but I regularly need room in the back for carrying bulky goods - feed, bales of shavings, horse equipment etc, and good towing capacity is a must. And it must be a commercial vehicle. I'm open to the concept of a crew cab or even a 'pretend 4x4' SUV, but how do these perform when towing? I have about €20,000 but am dithering about whether I would be better to keep my cash for the inevitable rainy day and look at a PCP.

Aidan: This one is plain and simple. You've got two choices; another Pajero or a Toyota Land Cruiser. Stick to what you know. You have too many variables with those horses of yours, don't let the mechanical horses under the bonnet bring you added grief.

Buy a short wheelbase version as they are easier to manoeuvre when towing your unruly steeds. Get the best, low mileage, cleanest, most extensively guaranteed one you can find. You might just squeeze into a 2011 new model Land Cruiser but it will be a struggle. It is worth it if you can. Older ones will have been through the ringer. And don't go for PCP. By the sounds of things you are going to give this poor car some serious hell so better to shrug off damage as an occupational hazard of keeping horses rather than worry about any impact on your future residual value.

Eddie: I've been in touch with you privately about making sure your current car is roadworthy until you sell and in fairness you've said you are attending to that. Absolutely essential.

Now go and get yourself a Land Cruiser commercial. It is by some distance the best at its job to my way of thinking. When trading in, tell the dealer all you have told us about your motor's travails.

I have a 2006 Ford Mondeo 1.8 petrol with 267,000km on the clock; NCT until October 2017. It's just me and my six-year-old son travelling. He has special needs and will be attending a special school 31km from home so during term time I'll be driving 124km/day. I will be getting a special transport grant to drive so I'm thinking this might be the time to upgrade my car. I'll probably be doing approx 30,000km/year; maybe a bit more. My budget is about €15,000 together with my Mondeo (probably isn't worth much). I can't go down the PCP route as my income is carers allowance so my only option is credit union. I thought about a KIA with its seven-year warranty.

Aidan: The KIA cee'd SW is a sound choice. It is the estate version of the hatchback so you get more space and practicality for a little extra. Expect to pay around €800 more for one over an equivalent hatch. If it costs much more then it is probably because the mileage is low, so be sure to compare like with like.

KIA's seven-year warranty is tremendous but it also expires after 150,000km, so with your mileage be sure to buy one with a low odometer. A 2012 model is certainly in reach and a better buy than a higher mileage 2013.

Buy from a reputable dealer because the warranty is conditional on service intervals being properly met. You don't want any nasty surprises.

Eddie: The cee'd is an excellent choice, no doubt. Two other ideas for you. A well-minded Nissan Note would fit your bill - lots of room, comfy. And what about a new, yes new, Dacia Sandero? It's so roomy and you'll have money left over after you buy. There's a three-year-warranty which, for little extra, you can expand to five. KIA in first place but other two well worth investigating.

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