Monday 22 January 2018

What new car for my promotion? Double check? Swap? Same again?


When buying, compare models and finance offerings
When buying, compare models and finance offerings

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 have a problem. My old Ford Mondeo (02) has more or less packed up. It has 235,000km. I didn't mind it too well, so I don't blame the car. I've used public transport for a long time to commute, and as we don't travel much we've scraped by with the Mondeo. Now I've been promoted and I need a car for my work. They say they will give me a car allowance, but colleagues tell me it is not great. What would you recommend? We have two teenagers. I could afford to go to €25,000 thanks to some savings and the Credit Union. Or should I go PCP? Total mileage will be around 20,000km.

Aidan: The PCP question is difficult to answer in simple terms. Qualifying for it is one thing, but suitability is another, so you need to figure out if you are happy that it will work for you. Also, PCP is not a standard product across all brands, so you need to compare models and offerings to determine the best package. There is more to consider with PCP than Hire Purchase. This doesn't mean it is worse, just different. I hope this does not offend you, but you sound dispassionate about cars in general. You need a bread-and-butter car from a mass-market brand. Saloon values are struggling off the back of growing SUV sales. So maximise your budget by sticking with a saloon. Get a new model Mondeo; something like a 2016-plate Titanium or Zetec (but make sure the Zetec model has an 'Appearance Pack'). It's a lot of car for the money and will devour your mileage. A VW Passat will cost more, but they are plentiful so you will have loads of choice. It is a proper family saloon with oodles of room and comfort.

Lastly, you will go a great distance to getting a very fresh Skoda Octavia. They are plentiful and perform well for people in your position. Look for a 1.6 TDi Style model on a 161 or 162-plate and you won't need to max out your budget. If you fancy a petrol, then buy a Corolla with the 1.33 engine. There are no dramatics with the Corolla; it has been around a while and does the simple things very well.

Eddie: Keep well away from PCPs. On the basis you didn't mind your Mondeo too well and PCPs penalise unreasonable wear-tear and maintenance, it is not for you. Aidan's suggestions are excellent. I'd add a fresh Mazda6 because they give little trouble and take a fair bit of hardship. Get my drift?

Firstly, I wish to compliment you and Aidan for the wonderful advice you give. Your detailed knowledge of the makes and models of vehicles, diesel, petrol, etc is astounding. Keep up the good work. My question is, do you consider it necessary to have a professional check carried out on a second hand vehicle if one is buying from a main dealer, firstly if the vehicle is a make covered by that main dealer and secondly if is a make not covered by that main dealer? I know you recommend time and time again that if one is purchasing privately, one should always have the vehicle professionally checked over or at least checked over by somebody who knows something about cars.

Aidan: Personally, irrespective of the franchise of the dealer and the brand of car I was considering, if a franchise dealer offers 12 months' warranty and the car is over three years old, then I wouldn't bother having it checked. Main franchise dealers are invariably required to ensure their used stock is properly prepared. I also know quite a few excellent independents who take pride in repeat business and do so by offering good warranties and standing over them. Not all warranties are equal, though. Just be sure to enquire how extensive the cover is, who provides it, who will rectify any issues and for how long the warranty lasts. Depending on the brand, there might even be some remaining manufacturer's warranty. Investigate this further with the dealer and/or manufacturer to confirm. For instance, if you buy a three-year-old Kia, you could still have four years' manufacturer's guarantee (or until 150,000km). BMW Premium Selection cars come with two years unlimited mileage warranty. An increasing number of brands are looking at more comprehensive used-car programmes.

For the moment, if you feel it is necessary to have your own mechanic look over the car and if by doing so your mind will be put at ease, then go for it, but 12 months' comprehensive warranty from a recognised dealer would be enough for me.

Eddie: I would definitely have a car independently checked if buying an older model privately or from a smaller outlet. And even with a main dealer involved, I'd ask a mechanic friend to give a car I was buying the once over. You can never be too careful and a few euro more is worth it if you are, like me, the worrying kind no matter where you buy.

I'd like some advice. I currently drive a 2012 Skoda Octavia 1.6litre, diesel 5dr. It has 200,000km on the clock. I drive approx 45,000km a year with around 30,000km taken up travelling to and from work. I recoup some money from expenses which I put towards diesel and maintenance of the car. I'm weighing up whether I should continue to keep the Octavia until it stops or change it. When is the best time to change? I'd be thinking about spending €8,000 to €10,000 on a trade-in and again I'd like a 5dr - two adults and three children/teens in family. My wife also has a 2012 Octavia 1.6-litre diesel, 5dr with 145,000km on the clock. She does 20,000km a year. One option is I could get rid of my car and use my wife's to travel to/from work. She could then take the new car and that would mean lower mileage on it. Is buying in the UK an option for me?

Aidan: Upgrade your car because it is under the most strain. If you inherit your wife's car you will quickly reach the 200,000km mark, which I suspect is partly the reason for considering a change. Ensure you get something with low mileage. This is where PCP helps used-car buyers. There should be a healthy supply of 14-plate Octavias with sub-60,000km because quite a few were sold on PCP in 2014 and some had 60,000km mileage caps. You can't go wrong with another Octavia either and buying an ex-PCP car negates the UK route and eliminates that risk. Or what about a 142-plate Hyundai i40 with two years' manufacturer's warranty left so that you have peace of mind for at least 24 months? I also advise you to plan both your and your wife's future car changes now so you don't end up being forced to change cars in the same year as one another.

Eddie: I presume you are both insured to drive each other's car. If that is the case I think you should trade your car for a newer Octavia and, to keep the mileage down, you and your wife 'swap' cars every month. That way you've got a newer car that will be putting on 22,500km/year rather than 45,000km. Buying an Octavia in the UK is an option, but imports of the model are quite low compared with others so stick here I think.

My present car is a 131-reg Citroen Berlingo Multispace 5dr (2 sliding). It is in A1 condition with 70,000km. Total budget is €8,000-€10,000 approx. Annual mileage is 20,000km approx. Require similar in size for carrying light equipment. Good mpg with small engine. Sliding doors useful but not a necessity.

Aidan: Would you not go for another Berlingo Multispace? Had you not told us what you are currently driving, I would have recommended one to you. Or, if you feel like switching it, go for the Peugeot Partner Tepee instead. Essentially it is the same machine, but with different styling. There is also the Ford Tourneo Connect. I reckon you can get a new Style version easily enough. If you want something more car-like, then look at the Peugeot 2008. You can get a new one in either petrol or diesel and with a decent level of equipment; either Active or Allure, whichever you prefer and will benefit most from. It won't be as spacious as the Multispace, though. Maybe go again and rethink it next time if your circumstances change.

Eddie: If it ain't broken why fix it? Aidan, as usual, makes total sense.

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