How a little help will go a long way
Flood of new cars coming but Budget will set buying trend
IT is nearing the time when we get out our motoring wish-lists.
Scarce resources dictate they are tinged with more reality than ever this year.
We would all love to be in a position to dream about buying a new car for 2011.
The chances are most of us will have to make do with what we have or buy a newer used car.
Much depends on what the Government lays out for us in the Budget. On that will depend how much, if anything, we can afford to spend or borrow.
There are a few things that would not cost much but would encourage the purchase and use of cleaner, greener cars.
Leaving road tax alone is one.
Abolishing it in the case of vehicles with really low emissions would be a real signal of intent. The current emission-based system has many, many good points but inevitably there are areas where it can be improved. That is another one. It would set a new benchmark and as we have seen, the manufacturers will follow with models to meet it. It is their business to do so.
Recent history proves we follow the money when it comes to buying a car. A big proportion of new purchases this year is in the lower VRT and road-tax bands A and B.
A little bit of leadership in the Budget could accelerate the trend towards more efficient cars, reduce the burden on motorists (we contribute an absolute fortune in direct and indirect taxes) and keep garages viable.
And, as the scrappage scheme has shown, it need not penalise the Exchequer.
On the positive side, we can look forward to a wave of new cars that in so many cases represent a huge step forward in terms of equipment, size, room, comfort, technology and safety. We often overlook this when we pay much the same, or maybe a little more, for them than their predecessors.
Above all, safety is a key reason for the Government, by whatever reasonable means it can, to make buying a new car that little bit more attractive.
But most of us will end up not bothering or buying a secondhand, newer car and that is where there has been a huge change in the marketplace.
As we outline on Page 7, really good used motors, especially those with a smaller diesel engine, are easy to sell and hard to find.
But whatever about fuel consumption and all that, it is absolutely essential that you buy from an outlet where you can get redress if things go wrong.
As well as that, two simple checks could save you a lot of money and hassle: the service history and finance record.
If there is the slightest sniff of suspicion, walk away -- no matter what the excuses. The chances are that if you have a doubt, then you are right. Why should you gamble on anything? That day is gone.
Now, we'll gamble on something giving motoring a little boost in the Budget.
Don't hold your breath.