Same rules apply whether it's import or 'native' Irish
It is strange when second-hand imports are competing with used Irish cars, often on the same site.
But with an anticipated total of 100,000 imports expected to have landed here by year's end, there are strong commercial reasons for such a phenomenon.
As we have reported on several occasions, used-car values generally have fallen over the past couple of years, mainly due to the lowering-price influence of the imports. With so many being sold from garages here, people no longer have to go to the UK and arrange transport, registration etc.
A minority wish to do so, relishing the prospect of saving more money by cutting out the middle man. Some are also heading north, feeling secure with the proximity and the hope they are saving more too, but lots are buying locally.
I don't know how long the current level of imports will continue: Brexit will play a big part in that. All I'm concerned about here is that buyers are equally careful buying a used car - I don't care if it is here or abroad, native or UK. The same rules apply to all purchases or you could be sorry. l Make sure the service history has no gaps. l
* Check its status - was it crashed or written off?
* How many owners has it had? l
* What was the last recorded mileage? l
* Does the state of the car concur with the odometer reading?
* Is there finance outstanding? You can do most of this via one of the history-check websites here for a few euro.
* Do not part with a cent until you are 100pc happy. Walk away if you have the slightest concern.
* Get a good warranty: six months is the minimum.
* Check the seller has the ability to repair if something goes wrong. It all sounds simple and straightforward, or it should be. Yet here at Motors we are getting a steady trickle of stories from people who have had trouble within a year of buying either an import or an indigenous motor with six-month warranties.
They tend to be older 'bargains' - a real worry - but a number of relatively fresh, upmarket cars are causing headaches too. It is galling to hear their stories. A year on, a couple of families are facing thousands more expenditure, either in repair bills or buying another vehicle. Some of it is down to sheer bad luck, but not all. People thought that a six-month warranty was a sign all was well, but a used car is exactly that: it has been used and possibly abused, which is why you cannot be careful enough in having it checked out by as many means as possible.
On a wider note, I think I should point out that while imports are technically saving money for some, they have cheapened the value of the existing car pool. So while some are winning, those of you who paid the full whack of tax to buy new and Irish are losing.
I'll be accused of bias towards home cars and the motor industry, but that's wrong. I'm all for consumers getting the best deal. But I am biased if someone lowers the value of my car and pays less tax to do so than if they bought a new one.
That is what import substitution is doing: more people are buying lower-tax second-hands instead of higher-tax new cars. By all means get an import bargain, but be aware of its implications too.