karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
Karen ([personal profile] karen2205) wrote2010-10-08 08:41 pm

Car buying

Am thinking quite seriously about buying a car again. I am becoming less enthuastic about cycling in this weather and it's only autumn - we've not yet reached winter/properly dark mornings. I don't (whatever the 'ought to's are) see this changing. And what's happening at the minute is that I'm taking cabs to and from work a lot, which means I'm tied to ordering a cab for a specific time and leaving at that time (assuming the company can supply me with one when I want one).

Stuff I want to know about cars:

Am I right in thinking that finance deals offered by car selling places are generally very bad value and that it's better to borrow money elsewhere and pay cash?

Is it possible to pay for a car on a credit card?

How long should I expect to be able to keep a car in good working order for? If I buy a car now should I be expecting to replace it in 5/10 years time?

What's the best trade off between cars made in the UK and cars made elsewhere with expensive replacement parts? ie. how do I weigh up the expense of replacement parts vs. potentially greater reliability?

I see road fund duty is for cars after 2001 based on CO2 emissions with a different table for 2001-2009 cars and a new one for post 2010 cars. How much emphasis should I put on low CO2 emissions vs. other stuff? We can't predict govt policy, but would it be reasonable to assume that the trend towards taxing the more polluting cars more heavily will continue and thus buying something with low emissions is a good plan? [trying to give that appropriate weight vs. the attempt at making myself feel less bad for joining the car owning masses 'cos 'my car doesn't cause much pollution']

What is good performance in terms of miles per gallon?

What is best practice in terms of winter/summer tyres? Can you buy snow chains in the UK? What other sorts of safety equipment belong in a car [on my list already: fire extinguisher, first aid kit, hammer for breaking windows/seatbelt slicing, jack, spare tyre, flourescent jacket, kitchen roll]

What's your magic piece of equipment in a car? [context: I'm trying to think about what sort of things I should think about asking a garage to fit before I buy a car from them - I don't know what sorts of things these might be - maybe strategically placed drinks holders? hands free kit? etc]
vampwillow: My other car - Mazda MX-3 (car)

[personal profile] vampwillow 2010-10-09 03:41 pm (UTC)(link)
I'll try and have a go!

Am I right in thinking that finance deals offered by car selling places are generally very bad value and that it's better to borrow money elsewhere and pay cash? Yes, very much so. Search around for your best rate before going it (and remember that if you are waving cash in their face they should be giving you something extra too)

Is it possible to pay for a car on a credit card? Probably not, although theoretically yes. I put some of the cost of my first car on a card but they wouldn't take the full payment that way, mainly because they pay a fair bit to the cc company. (see first q&a!)

How long should I expect to be able to keep a car in good working order for? If I buy a car now should I be expecting to replace it in 5/10 years time? My first car lasted nine years from brand new before the problems got bad enough to scrap it; my current car is 13yo (might be 14 actually) and is still in great running order. Like all things this is mostly dependent on how much you use the vehicle (think in miles rather than months) and how you drive it (heavy on clutch/brakes wears things out faster).

What's the best trade off between cars made in the UK and cars made elsewhere with expensive replacement parts? ie. how do I weigh up the expense of replacement parts vs. potentially greater reliability? Reviews, mostly. My first car was a Renault and mid-price for parts, current one is japanese (Mazda) and more expensive parts but I haven't needed any that often (indeed it went for six years without any servicing with no ill effects). Cheaper cars (eg massmarket Ford, GM) have cheaper parts and servicing *and tyres* but may have more problems.

How much emphasis should I put on low CO2 emissions vs. other stuff? We can't predict govt policy, but would it be reasonable to assume that the trend towards taxing the more polluting cars more heavily will continue and thus buying something with low emissions is a good plan? at some point the level of CO2 emissions will not be sufficient to differentiate the tax with - it only works while there is a large difference due to cars staying on the road. I'd look at mpg as the more important figure ...

What is good performance in terms of miles per gallon? Whatever figures you see listed, ignore them as they are unrealistic. We each drive differently and use cars in individual ways. My mpg on long-distance journeys (motorways) can be half as much again as in town, for instance. Point is, as above, the cost per litre of fuel is way more expensive than car tax or servicing or the other costs which having a car gives rise to. Also, where diesel used to be seen to be cheaper than petrol (and LPG is now) those respective levels are likely to change. The Government makes the most money from fuel sales and that won't stop. Expect to see 'car tax' reduce as a direct figure and be replaced by yet higher increases in fuel tax. (The reason car tax has lasted so long is that it is alleged to be a simple way to ensure that cars are insured at the time they are re-taxed. That need / test has now almost disappeared as all tax and insurance records are now computerised and connected, with easy access for the police)

What is best practice in terms of winter/summer tyres? Can you buy snow chains in the UK? What other sorts of safety equipment belong in a car [on my list already: fire extinguisher, first aid kit, hammer for breaking windows/seatbelt slicing, jack, spare tyre, flourescent jacket, kitchen roll] We don't have weather that ranges wide enough to worry too much about tyre types like that. You probably can get snow chains but, again, unless you are driving in the Cairngorm you won't need them (I've *never* seen them on any car in this country, and only very rarely abroad, even in Scandinavia). To your list I'd add (i) pair of shoes (if you are wearing heels and need to get under the car - as I have in the past! - slipping into something flat is helpful), (ii) cheap boiler suit (ditto - about £15 in halfords), (iii) stand-alone air pump/jump-start battery (lifesaver!). You left off torch, btw.

What's your magic piece of equipment in a car? Apart from the battery/air thing, the CD player. I'm not a believer in in-car navigation things as I think you should use maps and know where you are going before you set out!
doug: ubiquitous photo of me gurning with green shirt on (Default)

[personal profile] doug 2010-10-09 08:55 pm (UTC)(link)
My tuppence worth:

Am I right in thinking that finance deals offered by car selling places are generally very bad value and that it's better to borrow money elsewhere and pay cash?

Yes. Bank is a good idea.

Is it possible to pay for a car on a credit card?

Depends on who you're buying it from - second hand from a genuine private seller, definitely no; otherwise quite possibly. Good idea too for the £100 protection. Of course you know credit card for borrowing that sort of sum can be even worse than car finance.

What's the best trade off between cars made in the UK and cars made elsewhere with expensive replacement parts? ie. how do I weigh up the expense of replacement parts vs. potentially greater reliability?

They're not necessarily trade-offs: well-made reliable cars aren't the most expensive for parts, and you need fewer parts. A more important trade-off is paying for a more reliable make/model versus the hassle of having it in the garage a lot.

My personal tradeoff there has changed. Before kids, I was happy to do the banger-nomics thing and drive a £500 car in to the ground. Now it's more of a big deal to be without the car, so I've gone up the price scale.

How much emphasis should I put on low CO2 emissions vs. other stuff?

Blimey, terribly personal question. In pure financial terms it's not a big deal at the moment for road tax, but it's directly related to fuel consumption anyway.

My belief is that one should buy the smallest and most fuel-efficient car that'll fit your needs say 90-95% of the time. Lots of people buy a car that's big enough for the biggest job they might conceivably need to do, and waste loads as a result, driving a vastly oversized car around most of the time. Much better to stick a roof box on for occasional large-capacity trips, and rely on hiring a large vehicle (small vans are very reasonable) when you need more than that can handle.

What is good performance in terms of miles per gallon?

Depends on vintage. In my head, 40 mpg is decent for petrol, 60 mpg decent for diesel. I think new cars do better.

What is best practice in terms of winter/summer tyres?

I don't think I know anyone in the UK who changes their tyres with the seasons. Regular checks to make sure they're the right pressure and not worn are your friend year-round.

Can you buy snow chains in the UK?

Yes. Halfords usually has them in from about now. Or I'm sure you can get them over the Internet.

What other sorts of safety equipment belong in a car

In addition to your list, I always carry: ice/mist scraper, water (for radiator, screen or drinking), maps, screen cleaner, digital tyre inflator, jump leads, tow rope. A lot of these are more convenience than safety - but some of them fall in to the category of 'preparations that can prevent a minor issue turning in to something dangerous'.

In winter when it's snowy I also keep a shovel and some old bits of carpet (extra grip) in the boot.

What's your magic piece of equipment in a car?

I won't buy a car that doesn't have an alarm that goes off if you open the driver's door with the headlights on. Actually, I might, but I'd fit one as an urgent priority. I'm not particularly scatty but this simple measure has saved me from a flat battery on countless occasions.

I'm also a big fan of my digital tyre inflator. You plug it in to the lighter socket and it blows up your tyres to the selected pressure automatically - all you need to do is unscrew the dust cap, clip it on, press a button, wait, clip it off, screw dust cap back on. Correct tyre pressures give you noticeable fuel savings and better grip, and petrol station air hoses are almost always broken these days IME.

Another big win is an FM transmitter for my iPod - gives me my iPod over the car stereo (playlist if no passenger to operate it). Newer car stereos have a socket you can plug an iPod/a-like in to directly.

(Can't offer advice on drinks holders or hands free kits: I'm not a good enough driver to drive safely while picking up/putting down a drink or using a phone.)

Blimey. A lot of questions....

[identity profile] oilrig.livejournal.com 2010-10-08 09:17 pm (UTC)(link)
First things first, Budget:

How much are you prepared to spend/borrow to do this? Makes many subsequent questions easier/more specific.

Biggest cost on a brand new car (and for its first 3-4 years at least) is depreciation, it will cost more than insurance, tax and fuel put together. If reliability/warranty is a strong pull for you, then at least go to one of the supersites like Trade Sales, where they have many 'ex demo' models, with only a few thou (if that) on the clock, and a substantial discount on the price. Plus the balance of the manufacturer warranty.

Garage finance is better than it was, but still not particularly cheap, go to your bank first and clue yourself up to what is a good rate atm, forewarned is forearmed.

Pay with cc? Possible, depends on your limit, but it's got to be repaid somehow, and cc interest is rarely good for the 2-3 years it will take to pay it off.

How long will a car last? How long is the proverbial piece of string. Looked after, I would expect a minimum of 10-12 years given normal use, but towards the end maintenance costs will rise, and a big bill will be more than the car is worth.

Not much in location these days, most are built with parts made all over the world regardless. Some makes better than others - 'quality' makes, say Mercedes or BMW, relatively pricey, other european/japanese cars in the middle, obscure far eastern (say Korean) cheap for example. Most bits shared between groups these days, so a VW stamped part will be found in : VW, Audi, Skoda, and Seat vehicles. Ford parts in Mazdas etc.

Tax wise, no guarantees, but expect more of the same in the future, bigger/more polluting cars are going to cost more. Not much in the grand scheme of things, but will mean that higher tax cars will be less desirable (heavier depreciation) for a future resale.

Re: Blimey. A lot of questions....2

[identity profile] oilrig.livejournal.com 2010-10-08 09:28 pm (UTC)(link)
MPG? again, string.... a good 'supermini' should be well into the 40's for a petrol, and nearer 60 for diesel, a larger car will use more, but will depend on your driving style, town or open road, many factors to consider.

Tyres are normally 'all year' types, stick with well known brands and you won't go far wrong, would say a separate 'winter' set unnecessary in the UK, unless you're planning to move to the wilds of Scotland or Wales. ditto chains.

Extra kit? Would add a wind up torch to your list.

[identity profile] haggis.livejournal.com 2010-10-09 10:15 am (UTC)(link)
Re paying on credit card - I bought my first car with my credit card and then took out a loan to repay it. This gave me time to sort out the loan and also gave me added protection if anything went wrong because I could claim against my credit card company as well as the garage.

I bought a 2.5 year old small car (Micra) and it lasted 5 years but I drive 60 miles a day for work which is more wear than average. It had problems in the first few months which were fixed under the warranty (3 years) which was very useful as I didn't know much about cars or reputable garages at the time.

Useful things in a car - I'd add baby wipes and a phone charger. If you are going on a long journey/likely to be somewhere remote, I'd add a blanket in case of a breakdown.

I'd also recommend AA or RAC membership. There are different levels of service but it is very useful if you have a problem and very comforting!

Those car supermarket places are useful for having a look at lots of different cars and seeing how different models feel inside.

[identity profile] pjc50.livejournal.com 2010-10-09 11:39 am (UTC)(link)
Did you get charged a card processing fee for using the card? Something for Karen to watch out for, sometimes happens on high value items.

My previous car was a '92 Peugeot 306, which lasted to 16 years and 110,000 miles until the cambelt went and wrecked the engine. Replaced it with a Focus which I've been happy with.

If reliability is really important Toyota is probably the best bet. These days all parts are global if your car is popular. Labour costs tend to dwarf parts costs anyway.

Most cars will give somewhere near 30mpg; eco-diesels 40+. Was speaking to a Prius owner recently who's really pleased with his, it manages 50mpg.

Magic equipment - rear parking sensors? Satnav?

[identity profile] ixwin.livejournal.com 2010-10-09 11:45 am (UTC)(link)
For satnav I'd recommend buying a standalone system rather than one that's already installed in the car. It's a lot cheaper and much easier to upgrade, and they just plug directly into the cigarette lighter socket, so no complicated fitting required.

[identity profile] x-mass.livejournal.com 2010-10-10 08:03 am (UTC)(link)
if you get a sat nav buy a tomtom i have had two garmin sat nav's and both had faults, just bought a third (for use in In Car Entertainment) and that had faults. I know someone else who got given a garmin satnav and that also has faults

now if you wanted to buy a gps for walking - I would suggest garmin all the way - rugged and reliable, but their satnavs are just shoddy.

[identity profile] x-mass.livejournal.com 2010-10-10 08:09 am (UTC)(link)
a key issue for me is where are you going to get it repaired!

find a good independent garage first, get recommendations from a range of locals. If you were near oxford i would be telling you to go to andys auto's

for reliability look at a JD power survey

generally japanese are solidly reliable.

how big a car do you want - it will reflect on co2 output but then bigger cars are safer in crashes

also look at the cars euroNCAP rating, top cars are now 5 star rated older cars rate between 3 and 4. A 5 star car hitting a 3 star car means the people in a 3 star card die and a 5 star walk away!

I drive a 3 star car and switching in the next year

[identity profile] shermarama.livejournal.com 2010-10-10 08:27 pm (UTC)(link)
If you're not particularly bothered about the looks of a car or its ability to speed away from lights, then I'd say that getting an economical car is about the most important thing. For any post-2001 car, it makes the running costs cheaper in terms of tax, but of course also in terms of fuel - it's just far cheaper to own a car that doesn't use much fuel. I have a Peugeot 106 diesel that does 60+ mpg, and a lot of similar-sized cars (Ford Fiesta, VW Polo, that kind of thing) will do similar these days. And of course small, non-speedy cars are much cheaper to insure. Look at the insurance costs for anything you're considering buying too; since you've got no no-claims bonus built up, a small car might cost you £300-£400 to insure, while a larger one could get a lot more expensive, especially in the first year.