How to Decide What to Buy
Lots of people leave their house having decided to buy a three-door hatchback,
only to drive out of the showroom a few hours later in a stretch limousine.
Salesmen can be very persuasive and it is all too easy to fall in love
with something inappropriate and impractical. You must decide on a type,
or range, of cars and stick to it.
Will it fit?
How big is your drive, garage, car port, or parking space at work and home?
There is no point buying a car that is going to be too big. Take measurements.
Will they fit? Do not forget that it is not just you who will be using the car.
Dogs, children and other halves must be able to fit inside.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Tall, short, fat, thin, bad back: we are all different shapes and have
different ailments. If you want to avoid the osteopath's table make sure
the driver's seat is supportive, that the steering column adjusts and
that you can see out clearly.
Can it cope?
What do you want your car to do? Tow a caravan? Then it needs a large
engine and maybe four-wheel drive. Local city journeys? Then you should
consider a small hatchback with a light clutch and power steering. Got
a lifestyle and hobbies to follow up at weekends? Maybe an estate or MPV
would be good. Only you know. There is nothing worse than having the wrong
car for the job. A 4x4 just for the urban school run is almost as silly
as a cramped coupé for a family of four.
Which category suits you?
- City cars
- City cars can be used and abused and can therefore become tatty pretty quickly.
The ones in good condition tend to have a premium price tag as a result. Small
hatchbacks One of the most popular types because they are so versatile.Prices,
conditions and specifications vary widely in a market almost over-crowded
with hatchback choices.
- Family cars
- Very cheap, especially ex-company cars with high mileages.
- Smaller compact MPVs are better value than traditional hatchbacks. The big
MPVs can be difficult to park in town. Sports cars High image models are always
pricey, but there are some mainstream badges that represent good value.
- Executive cars
- Lots of equipment and ability. Low image badges struggle to muster much
interest on the used market so prices are extremely cheap.
- Luxury cars
- Massive depreciation means you can really move up in the world for very
little money. But then you have to live with massive running costs.
- Large petrol 4x4s are cheap, and smaller lifestyle 4x4s are quite pricey
when you consider they are no more practical than family estates.
The big debate: petrol or diesel?
Compared to petrol, diesel engines are good because:
- Fuel economy is excellent
- Engines are mechanically simple which makes them more reliable
- Latest 'common rail' engines are more refined
Diesel engines are bad because:
- They are worked hard and often require major engine overhaul
- Sellers sometimes over-price diesels
- Diesels are environmentally unfriendly because there are toxic particles
coming out of the exhaust which can cause cancer and asthma
- Older diesels are slow, especially non-turbo versions
- Diesel fuel is smelly, slippery and difficult to get off clothes and hands
- Diesel fuel is more expensive, although you do of course go further on a