Saturday 24 August 2019

What will I get for €10,000? Smaller than 5-series? My car is 'eating' tyres

A driver can't explain why he needs to keep changing his tyres.
A driver can't explain why he needs to keep changing his tyres.

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 an old Nissan Primera (2003) petrol with a 1.6 petrol engine. It has not given much trouble and now has 141,000 miles on the clock. It is not in great condition because my wife drives the children to school in it, the roads are bad and some of the older children have learned to drive in it. My problem is that I don't have a permanent job and a few things are starting to go wrong with the car. My wife works part-time too. We could scratch about €10,000 together. We do about 12,000 miles a year. We would value your advice.

Aidan: For a start, please ensure your budget does not leave you overstretched. Park a few hundred euro for insurance next year, motor tax costs and the first few fills of fuel. I'm not talking about halving your budget but earmarking some money will help to soften future financial outlays.

You can minimise further risk of unforeseen costly expenses by ensuring you buy a used car from a dealer providing warranty. Your money probably won't go as far in terms of registration plate or mileage as it would in the private market but it is virtually impossible to put a value on peace of mind.

Twelve months worth of driving on someone else's time is a reassuring thing. The next thing to do is find a car with low mileage and a comprehensive service record.

This is where I start to sound slightly contradictory, because if the right car comes along, then you can sometimes throw caution to the wind and use up the bulk or indeed all of your budget. What I mean to say is that its best to take a long-term view of vehicle ownership.

Regardless of the make or model, all cars have wear and tear items so you will have to replace parts at some stage. Buying something with low mileage that has been properly looked after might cost more today but should save you some money further down the road.

So, how about something like a Honda Civic 1.4 litre petrol? It's spacious and has good suspension for those bad roads, and it's reliable. Look for a clean 2009 model.

You won't go wrong with a 1.4 Ford Focus either. The 1.6 petrol is arguably a better car but it costs more to tax. The Focus has a great chassis, good engine, practicality in spades and parts are cheap. A 2010 could come in on budget but you will have a decent amount of change if you opt for a 2009.

Or how about one from left field? The Dacia Sandero might be a touch small for your needs but you will buy a practically new 1.2 litre petrol model with the bulk of its five year warranty remaining. It's worth visiting your local Dacia dealer to see if you can make it work.

Eddie: You don't have a lot of money to play around with so you need consistency. Apart from the ones Aidan has suggested I'm going to say you should look out for a well-minded KIA cee'd because it should have at least a couple of years' warranty left. It's an underrated car. Also one well worth looking at is a Toyota Auris, even if you have to go back in years a bit. You might find a Hyundai i30 fits your bill too.

I think you'll have to try to sell your own car separately. It's not worth a lot at this stage (no disrespect). A dealer will 'give' you a nominal amount but the price of whatever you're buying will reflect how little that really is. One final thought: have a look for a Mazda3. Great little car but not overly priced on the used market.

I have a BMW 520d with 115,000km on the clock, as I did a lot of driving as part of my former job. The car is a 2011 reg. I recently became self-employed and am looking at buying something smaller because I won't be travelling as much, my partner has her own car and the children are gone.

I have €25,000 to spend. I don't want anything flashy but I'd like something comfortable with enough room for four and a decent boot. What would you advise?

Aidan: I don't want to presume anything, but I know from speaking with people in similar circumstances that there is generally a reluctance to leave a premium brand for "mass market" cars.

Even though the fleet/family sector has improved immeasurably, many people find it difficult to make the transition. Considering you are already familiar with the BMW brand would you consider a 3-series?

Not that a 3-series isn't "flashy" but it's not ostentatious, which I am presuming is your concern. A used BMW from a BMW dealer is a sensible purchase considering the Premium Select unlimited mileage two-year warranty. You are probably well aware of the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class already, so suffice it to say that they should be on your radar. Just be aware that most C Class models are mostly automatics whereas 3-Series and A4s historically sold best as manuals. You will have to dig around for a good automatic.

Take a peek at the Volvo brand, too. It escapes far too many people's attention. A 2.0 litre S60 in R-Design trim and with Geartronic (auto) is a peach of car. There is also a 1.6 diesel engine, which is far more common, but the 2.0 litre is my preferred choice. For the sake of some completeness you could look at the Peugeot 508. Haggle hard and you might even get into a 151 Allure model. It has an understated exterior but is finished to a high standard inside. And it will give many other cars' specification a run for their money with leather, park distance control, reverse camera and sat nav all included. Lastly, the Mazda6 is worth serious consideration. A 2.2 diesel Platinum model is a beautiful machine. Boot space is enormous and it oozes class from every angle, inside and out.

Eddie: As Aidan says, it's not easy to get out of a 'posh' car and I don't see why you should. Put it this way. The BMW 5-series has stood you in good stead. You are going to notice a huge gap in room if you move down to a 3-series or any of the cars in the smaller segment. I suggest you trade-in your current 5-series and buy a newer one. I notice you have no complaints about it. You now have your own business and an up-the-years 5-series isn't going to alienate anyone.

In three years time when you come to change again you might consider something smaller. Or, if things work out really well, something bigger. Good luck.

I notice my Ford Mondeo (2009, diesel) has gone hard on tyres lately. My garage tells me they have re-aligned and balanced the wheels several times and have checked the suspension. They say the wear could be down to the bad roads in my area where there are many potholes and sharp edges. Could this be the case? Or is there likely to be something more serious wrong? It doesn't feel like it is pulling to one side or anything but with the NCT on the horizon I'll have to buy an expensive set of tyres. Any advice?

Aidan: If the wear is consistent and your garage has investigated the problem then you aren't giving me any evidence to suggest that it is anything sinister.

Have you changed tyre brands to the ones that were originally fitted to it when you bought the car? If you have opted for a budget tyre (even though the price might not seem all that "budget"), it could account for the quicker wear. Poor road surfaces and speed bumps can cause havoc with tyre durability. I know they cost a fair whack but premium brand tyres really do last longer. I attended a two-day event with Continental Tyres this year and was blown away by the gap in longevity, noise suppression and road adhesion between a premium brand and budget tyre.

Eddie: At least you check your tyres, which is more than many do. But you obviously have a concern and I think it could be down to your car. I note you say your dealer checked it over. But how extensive a check was it? I feel there is something amiss.

So I suggest you take your car to the garage and insist on a thorough examination. What is worrying me is you say the tyres have begin wearing 'lately' which suggests they were okay before that. I'm sorry but you deserve a far better answer than your garage is giving you. I don't think there has been such a huge deterioration in roads in that space of time. Please put your foot down on this. You need an answer.


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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