My budget is €5,000. What would you recommend?
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 am driving a 00 VW Bora 1.9 diesel but, as you can imagine, the insurance and the car tax are excruciating. I used to drive for work so it was economical, but since changing jobs I've no need for such a big engine. I do about 10,000km a year as I travel around the country a bit at the weekends. I want something a little smaller - not fussy on any make or style. A mechanic said I might get a grand for the Bora as a trade-in. Budget is about €5,000. I would like to aim for the new tax bands (08/09) if at all possible
Aidan: Be careful here. There is a higher concentration of junk at this level. Find the best Mazda3 you can and have it properly examined by a mechanic - worth the few euro. Ensure you get the registration number and use it to buy a vehicle history report. That is crucial. It means you can fact-check the seller's information and peek behind some of the non-personal details of the car without the seller knowing. Also, look for a Nissan Note or even a Tiida. The latter is not a pretty car but it is functional. Make sure it has a good service record. Or maybe even a Mitsubishi Lancer if it hasn't been abused or has astronomic mileage or patchy service details.
Eddie: Buy a well-minded Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 or Honda Civic. Absolutely vital it has a service record. Don't buy anything without one under any circumstances. As Aidan rightly says, danger lurks at every corner of the low-budget market. But these three cars have good records.
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We love getting your enquiries and try to reply to as many as possible here or via email. The ones dealt with here often represent a cross section of individual questions. You can help us help you with our free, independent, advice by including the following in your queries:
* Budget (including trade-in).
* Annual mileage (in kms).
* Size of car required (number of seats).
* Present car (make, model, year and mileage) if relevant.