Monday 9 December 2019

Hold off on buying? Haggling over spare wheel? Warranty worth it?

Take your time before purchasing a car.
Take your time before purchasing a car.

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 noticed last time you advised someone to hold on until July if they could not get the car they wanted within the next couple of months.

What would your advice be in my case. I have €20,000 arranged to buy a new car. I will be trading in a four-year old petrol Volkswagen Golf but it doesn't suit me to change yet. I was planning, for many reasons, to do so after Easter but you have got me thinking I might hold off. I'd appreciate a straight-up answer.

Aidan: Okay, a quick recap for those who aren't familiar with the situation from the last edition. A reader was advised to wait until July because apparently there was a lengthy delay in ordering their car. If the delay was so long that it would mean taking delivery in May or June; Eddie offered the advice that the reader might consider holding off until July.

It was good advice that follows a new trend in our market. Since 2013, when we introduced two registration periods (January to June, and July to December), many people in May and June of each subsequent year have postponed collecting their cars until July. They do this so that they are one of the first people with the second registration plate (this year it is 162). Buying in May or June would make them one of the last people with a first registration plate (161). Depending on the model, the difference between first and second registration plate residual values can be negligible. I see evidence of this on a daily basis. There is a slight uplift for the second-reg plate but nothing so severe that it would drive me to wait from April to July. June? Different story. June is like a mid-year December to the motor trade.

Now, you say that you are not ready to change just yet. So, that means you either buy a new car in March, April, or maybe May or you wait until July. Honestly, I don't really see enough of a discernible difference in the plates that would warrant me holding off for two or three months. However, you should start doing your homework now by pricing around. Get familiar with deals on offer today so that you can benchmark them against the deals that prevail when you are in a position to pull the trigger. If a new model or different engine is earmarked for release in the second half of the year, then it might make sense to hold on for it. Or, you might get a good deal on the last of the run-out models/engines. This is not a simple open and shut case. where I can definitively state buying in the first or second half of the year is better or worse.

Eddie: Let me refine my advice. I'd wait til before Easter and see what deals are being offered because dealers will be starting to feel the effects of the natural, every-year, downturn in sales at that time. It is now part and parcel of manufacturers' strategy that they have special promotions and pushes to fill in what can be tough months in the trade. So the following might emerge. When you do your maths you might find you'd be better off with the deal you'll get in April than if you waited.

I would advise you to take your time because you are in no rush. One of the considerations of holding out til July is that the 162-reg will probably be better specced too. Hold your fire and do your maths.

Should I haggle over getting a full-spare tyre before or after I buy a new car? I have a few models in mind: A Honda Civic 5dr 1.6 diesel, a Toyota Auris 1.4-diesel, a Peugeot 1.6 diesel but I am open to suggestions.

Aidan: I don't see the sense in haggling for a full-size spare wheel after you've bought the car. Work it into the deal as best you can. Based on the value of the cars in which you are interested, the cost of a spare wheel is a bit of an irrelevancy. If that sounds a bit crass, I apologise. But it is reality. I can already hear readers grumbling and complaining that full size spare tyres are optional extras when they used to be standard. I grumble and complain about it, too. I can live with a space saver. It's still a wheel. With a sidewall puncture (as rare as they are), a space saver will allow me to get home or to a tyre fitters. The "gunk in the can" and the automatic inflation kits just don't float my boat. For anyone who is interested, the full-size spare is an option in most cars now because of CO2 emissions and boot space. Spare tyres take up space and weigh a lot. And the latter affects CO2 and therefore tax. Now, the cars that you are looking at are all excellent. I like the Toyota Auris and always have done. I think it looks right, drives well, is kitted out nicely and is priced sensibly. Go for the Luna model. The Civic is another soft spot of mine. What an engine! It's a super driver and despite its price premium above rivals, it comes with an excellent level of equipment. Go for the Sport or Si model here. The 308 puts it up to the best in this class. It's very refined. The interior is lovely and the driving position is spot on. Rear leg room for tall passengers could be better but it wouldn't stop me from buying one. Most people opt for the Active model but for €1,500 more you can get an Allure model with all the trimmings. Now that is a nice motor. Don't ignore the Ford Focus, VW Golf, Kia cee'd, or Opel Astra. You really are spoiled for choice in this segment and there is little that separates all of them.

Eddie: You'll get a spare wheel 'thrown in' for anything between €40 and €150 I'd say. Technically, I think you have to buy the car 'as is' due to legalities over emissions. But in the real world you say to your dealer :"I want a full sized spare wheel when I've done the deal." Most will accommodate you for nominal amount.

How come some cars have five-year warranties, others seven and some still have just three. Surely you'd be better off buying one with a longer warranty? That way you don't have to worry for years. Or am I missing something. I am going to buy a new car in March and would like to know.

Aidan: If all you want is peace of mind, then go buy a model with the longest warranty. However, if you prefer a car from a brand with a shorter warranty I don't think the length of the warranty should be enough of a deterrent.

It depends on what matters most to you. I think you should buy the car you want and not the warranty you want. If you can do both, you're laughing. Warranties differ in length because the decision is made at manufacturer level. Long warranties don't guarantee success. Some brands have even tried lifetime warranties but sales didnt exactly rocket. It goes back to what I said earlier; most people buy the car they want and not the warranty.

Some of the longer warranties are not fully manufacturer backed for the entirety of their duration. Others have mileage stipulations, such as not being valid beyond a certain mileage. Investigate exactly what is covered, for how long, and by whom.

You also need to figure out how long you intend on keeping the car. If you are buying something through finance and intend trading it back in after three years, then a long warranty won't yield any benefits to you. At least not in terms of costs being covered for broken parts after three years. Also, long warranties usually require a strict adherence to a servicing schedule.

Be sure to maintain the car properly when you get it. Buying a service plan makes eminently good sense.

This is a pre-agreed set price for service work. It's good for two reasons. First, it ensures that you are punctual with regular maintenance checks, which could be crucial to your overall warranty. And second, it's generally cheaper to buy it upfront at the start of the deal than it is to pay on a once yearly basis.

Eddie: Aidan is absolutely correct in pointing out that warranties can mean different things to different cars.

Some are factory-based; some (or parts of some) are with a third-party agency and some are underwritten by individual distributors and selected dealers. And with some you can buy more years yourself. So be sure what you are buying into and understand the terms and conditions. You will not get much sympathy if, for example, an engine blows and they discover you've had Backstreet Jack using spurious parts and cheap oil in it for years.


We love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all of them in as full a manner as we'd like 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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