We’ve all done it, bought a car we thought was our dream car, only to find it then spends half the following year on a ramp slowly adding up fees until the garage has charged you so much you’d have been better off cycling everywhere! Sometimes, you expect these things, my G registered mark II Golf GTI, was always going to take a lot of work, but I didn’t care, I bought it because it needed TLC. For those of you looking for a more reliable method of transport, here are a couple of tips when you are starting out on the search for the next dream machine
It’s important to decide where you buy, you can get a great deal privately, and I always like to meet the person who owned it before, although I must admit it hasn’t always been the great idea I thought it was when I have totally trusted the seller only to get a shock at its next MOT. If you go to a dealer you will pay a premium, but it will come with a warranty period of at least 3 months (by law), some will offer extensions and extras. Just don’t get carried away with paint protection and new floor mats or you may as well have bought it new! A good place to start your search is the used cars by AA, pulling together results from well over 2000 dealers and offering a free history check (we’ve all heard the horror stories of outstanding finance or stolen cars!) and if you do end up having troubles, 12 months breakdown cover. For buying tips have a search online, the BBC consumer panel do a good series of things to consider.
You want to find something with a decent reputation. If the car was renowned for faults when it was new then the chances are it’s not so hot now. I won’t name any current names as I don’t fancy the owners club coming after me, but I’m sure you have a few makes in mind – think Rover 20 years ago, or any British made car in the 70’s! The newer Skoda’s, VW, BMW and Audi are just a few names that come to mind that have a strong reputation for build quality. Think how many old ones you see knocking about and that’s normally a good indicator of how long a well serviced example will go
It’s important to think how long you’ll keep the car. The Focus and Mondeo’s from Ford are great cars, built well, well equipped, every review raves they are best in class, and every garage in the country has access and probably stock of cheap parts. Perfect? Not so. If you are not buying a special edition (ST, RS etc.) and only want it for a couple of years, bear in mind these cars are everywhere. There’s always hundreds for sale and therefore the value falls faster than a lead balloon in water, especially if yours is anything except immaculate. If you plan to hang on to the car for ten years, then they are perfect! I’m a restless soul and switch mine every 2-3 years; I’d do it every 18 months if I could. If that’s you then consider paying a bit extra for a car that won’t depreciate so fast, a VW Golf or a BMW 3 series – you can get the depreciation figures online.