Getting shut of my old car? Cheaper tyres? What length of warranty?
Independent Advice Desk
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'.
Is there a better way to get rid of a car than trade it in? I know the garage is giving me nothing for it. But I don't want to go to the bother of having my 2007 Audi A4 (180,000km) at the front of the house for weeks with a For Sale sign either. I know there are publications that do ads but I don't really want people ringing me at all hours. Considering the derisory offer made for it by one garage, I feel I'd be better off scrapping it. What would you advise?
Aidan: The harsh truth is that to retail your car and turn a profit, a dealer must legislate for remedial work and the potential for the value falling between the time that car is traded in and the time it sells.
In many instances, your car will be 'traded out' as it would be considered uneconomical to retail. Refurbishing costs on such a vehicle could potentially reach unpalatable amounts.
Other, smaller and independent dealers might take it but they will want similar reassurances. Deciding to sell privately makes good sense as you take cash to your next deal.
But you say you don't want to do this. Can I suggest you ask a friend to sell it on your behalf with an agreement he/she is given a cut of the deal?
Let your pal answer calls and show the vehicle to prospective buyers on neutral territory. Just ensure it's someone who knows the score. Have you looked around at deals on new cars being offered by some manufacturers? Some explicitly stipulate that to avail of a 'scrappage deal', your car must be over a certain age. This is essentially an offer of a much better trade-in allowance than the true value of your car. You get a good deal on a new car, potentially with a few other goodies thrown in, such as low finance or service packs, and you are shut of your own car all in one fell swoop.
I think the notion of scrapping (in the old traditional sense) is a suggestion born of frustration. If the car is taxed, has a valid NCT certificate, and it is in proper mechanical and cosmetic condition, then the scrap yard is the last place for it.
If it is in good condition or has expired tax or NCT, then it might go some way to further explaining your lower-than-preferred trade-in allowance. The last option is to gift the car to a charity. It would be a wonderful gesture.
Eddie: You give no clue that the car is giving you trouble. Why not hold onto it for another year as you grapple with what to do? It has lost all the value it is going to lose and will cost you nothing, as they say. Take that year to decide what you want because I get the impression you are a bit upset with the reality that your car isn't worth much. Aidan's advice is excellent and I would endorse it fully. But you strike me as someone who isn't happy with the way things are panning out. If so you will more likely make a wrong decision. Hold onto your car; buy a new one in 2017.
I was asked €300 for a new set of tyres for my 2009 Opel Astra but 50km up the road - I pass it on my way to work - I saw a set for €200. Why is there such a big gap? And is it like everything else - you get what you shop around for?
Aidan: This might sound like an obvious question but were the tyres for €200 the exact same brand and model as the tyres for €300?
If so, at €50 a tyre for a 2009 Opel Astra, I think you are doing very well. However, I suspect that you are not comparing like for like. And in any case, €200 for four tyres infers a budget product. Under no circumstances should you skimp on tyres. Not all tyres are equal. Sure, they are all black, round, and made from rubber but that's where the similarities between premium and budget products end. Just like your kitchen appliances, tyres have efficiency ratings.
One rating is for the sound that it produces. Hard compounds usually have a worse decibel rating, so they are louder. Then there is a fuel rating. Again, harder compounds tend to have a larger negative impact on fuel efficiency. Then there is wet weather grip. This one is crucial. With our climate, you want to ensure that your tyres can perform in wet conditions. So you see, you can save €100 upfront on tyres but you can lose it all in fuel costs or worse, crashes, over the lifespan of the tyres. I'm generalising a bit here but most Irish people aren't vigilant with the maintenance of their cars. I know this from researching the used car market and hearing about rising reconditioning costs. Service deals are helping to improve this but when it comes to tyres, most people only change them when they are as bald as eggs or when they puncture. This advice goes to everyone; check your tyres regularly.
And invest in a good set. Recognised brands are usually a safe bet, such as Bridgestone, Continental, Michelin, Dunlop, Pirelli and Goodyear. Hankook make some fine tyres, too. As does Yokohama and even Nokian and BF Goodrich are upping their games.
I've tested tyres on race tracks and have experienced first-hand the difference between a quality product and a low-end budget one. The latter can be frightening in the wrong conditions. Tyres are your only contact patch with the road and the value of your car, and more importantly, your life; is worth a hell of a lot more than the saving that some budget end tyres afford.
Eddie: I think you are looking at the money and not the product. If the tyres were directly comparable, and I mean same everything, then there is something wrong. Let me put it this way: there are cowboys out there. And there are ways of making tyres appear to be the same. We are all suckers for a bargain. Please go to your local garage/mechanic and get on-the-ground guidance. Otherwise you could be buying danger. You need tyres to be as good as you can afford. Forget price; pay for safety.
What length of warranty should my son expect when he goes to buy a three-year-old Audi A3 this year? It will probably be March. He will not have a trade-in and will be commuting about 80kms a day. Enjoy your column and sound advice every week.
Aidan: Thank you. We enjoy answering your questions. Personally, I would insist on 12 months warranty for a three-year-old A3. This is regardless of whether or not it is bought from an Audi dealership. However, I don't think you will have to haggle too vigorously to get it. The used car market is fiercely competitive and many main franchise dealers (and quality independents) offer 12 months warranty on cars of this age, irrespective of their brand. It is still a relatively fresh motor that should not present any trouble once it's taken care of and so many dealers would classify it as a small enough risk to underwrite for 12 months.
Just be certain that the warranty covers as many components as possible and preferably, is for unlimited mileage. The A3 is a good choice. I presume it's the 1.6 TDi he is buying. A three-year-old will be the first of the latest shape 2013 models, which is a super machine. Look for five-door Sportback models with SE trim. A Sport model would be a bonus. Tell him to buy one with low mileage considering he will rack up north of 20,000kms a year (based on your figures). It would be sensible to pay a little premium to an Audi dealer for the peace of mind that the car has undergone a detailed manufacturer approved inspection prior to its sale. And Audi dealers will probably sell the car with their Audi Approved-plus warranty package. Also, there is every likelihood they will know the previous owner and can vouch for cars condition and provenance. I have an inkling that Eddie might have a few other suggestions, should your son want to explore his options.
Eddie: Aidan has covered a lot of ground. I've had several calls from people about being offered only six months warranty and being asked to pay €250 for an additional six. I think that is a bit rich. The other thing to mention is that you are a cash customer; the dealer hasn't to worry about shifting your car. On that basis you are a prized asset and in a greatly strengthened position. So it's a decent discount on the price and a 12-month warranty or you're taking your business elsewhere. OK?
A helping hand
We love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all 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).