Currently reading: James Ruppert: Ditch dealers and depreciation with a used buy
A brand new car isn't necessarily faultless. Lessen the risk of repair with a cheaper second-hander

Used cars versus new cars: it doesn’t really work. It’s a bit like comparing shiny apples and manky pears. I say this because loyal reader Ian began his recent heartfelt email to me with the line: “It’s my fault for buying a new car.”

I don’t think it was: Ian reasonably expected his brand-new motor to not be faulty. It wasn’t end-of-the-world faulty, but not what you expect from a car for which you’ve paid a serious amount of your hard-earned cash.

“They all do that, sir” surely isn’t true in this case. When it rains, the rear lights fill with condensation and take several days to dry. The dealer offered to buy it back for £2000 less than Ian paid after just 250 miles and eventually offered to swap the lenses for the ones on a new car in the showroom. Not great customer care.

Ian said it himself: “I should have bought a used car for a tenth of the money. I could even have bought one for the 10-day depreciation!”

Well, let’s see. A mile-munching large family car that’s comfortable and tidy? A 2009 Mazda 6 2.0 TS for £2000 fits the bill. This is a privately advertised example with just 60,000 miles on the clock. Three previous owners, but it really is the perfect car for hard times, mostly because it shouldn’t break down.

7 Jaguar s type static side

Keeping it real and simple to live with, a Vauxhall Astra should present no problems – especially when you can buy a 2010 1.8 VVT SRi with one of those fancy exterior packs. Mileage is 90,000, there are seven stamps in the book and it’s had just two owners. Not the economical or premium choice, but hard to go wrong.

For a bit of open-air fun, a 2005 Mini Convertible Cooper S with just a shade under 100,000 miles would be a great £2000 buy. It’s a private sale, mind, so you would have to be a little bit careful, especially as the service history isn’t absolutely complete.

Fancy a 4x4? A Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 Overland is a great way to cart your family around, and this one, with 120,000 miles under its belt, has a towbar, so you could tug a caravan or trailer as well.

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How about a barge? I’ll pass on a 2004 Mercedes-Benz S-Class on the grounds that it has an aftermarket grille. Instead, a 2007 Jaguar S-Type 2.7d V6 SE is an economy ‘bargy’ compromise. Just two owners, fancy alloys, 118,000 miles on the clock and, best of all, a full service history.

As we regularly tell you right here, a couple of grand can buy you all sorts of wonderful alternatives to a rapidly depreciating piece of new metal.

What we almost bought this week

6 Volvo s90 static front

Volvo S90 D4: This diesel saloon has done a few miles, but the price of just under £13k was sorely tempting, as it cost £37k not three years ago. It’s had only one owner and has a full service history, so it should be mechanically sound, allowing you to relax in its sumptuous heated leather armchairs and admire the open-grain wood of range-topping Inscription spec.

Tales from Ruppert's garage

5 Bmw 320 static rear

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BMW 320, mileage - 84,492: I’m trying to summon up the time and courage to change the BMW’s dreadful Solex carburettor for something that actually works. I have a cardboard box full of parts that should make some sort of sense. It’s possible to fund this madcap scheme by no longer paying road tax. The good news is the Baby Shark, more than a year after turning 40, is now officially a historic car. Zero VED, then, until they change the law. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of a couple of bins I made out of some mini beer barrels when I should have been spannering under the bonnet…

Reader's ride

4 Vauxhall astra static side

Vauxhall Astra 1.4: Here’s Karl and his spectacularly brilliant purchase: “This is my 2004 Vauxhall Astra 1.4 Club, which I bought yesterday and only cost me £50! It’s a nice little runner, although the paint is a bit faded in places. The MOT is until June, there’s some service history and the cambelt was done in 2018. Due to the current lockdown in the UK, I’m using it only to travel to and from work. I’m a key worker with my local NHS trust (Community Equipment Service), and it’s a very busy time right now.”

Readers' questions

3 Readers question coronavirus

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Question: I have a Q3 on a PCP. It’s due a service in May but my Audi garage is now indefinitely shut. Will the warranty be void if something goes wrong? Tina Heath, via email

Answer: Not getting your car serviced along the manufacturer’s guidelines would normally void its warranty, but we believe the rules will need to be altered due to the pandemic. We asked Audi if it will honour claims when the owner hasn’t been able to get their car serviced on time, and it responded: “Servicing a vehicle correctly is important, but if the service is late it will not invalidate the warranty automatically.” Further info can be found in the FAQs at CE

2 Readers question land rover freelander

Question: My Freelander is now out of warranty, so Land Rover won’t help pay to fix the juddering that started after it replaced the Haldex in 2018. Is this fair? Duncan Walfon-Hayward, via email

Answer: As the warranty has expired, Land Rover doesn’t have to pay towards any repair. Based on the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the age of the car, you would have to prove the issue was there from the start or was caused by the Haldex replacement. So get an independent inspection done and, if they report in your favour, file a complaint with the Motor Ombudsman. MA


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Add a comment…
Peter Cavellini 5 May 2020

I agree

 I've never bought a new car primarily because my old man said not to, let the person who it take the hit first, th old adage, once it's of the fore court it's lost thousands, and, now with the Internet you can look nationally for a car, some garages will do a video walk round. I've bought two cars without seeing them, both BMW's, an M3 and a 530i, delivered too, one from Wales, the other from London, both never let me down,so, yes, buy used!

HiPo 289 5 May 2020

Ditch internal combustion if you really want to save money

EVs are far cheaper to fuel than IC cars and have very few moving parts, so greatly reduced maintenance costs. There are no exhausts, no oil, no oil filter, no air filter, no spark plugs, no clutch, no gearbox, etc.  Also because of regenerative braking, the wear on brake pads is minimal, so you even save money on those.  They are also free of other costs like road tax.

EV batteries are now projected to outlast the life of the vehicle and become static storage devices after the car is scrapped. Plus used EVs are currently going up in value, not down, due to demand.

If you're watching the pennies, EVs are a no-brainer.




LP in Brighton 5 May 2020

All cars have faults

In my experience all cars have faults if you go looking hard enough. Many are minor defects such as paintwork blemishes, rattles, ill-fitting trim etc. None are perfect. The difference is that it is easier to overlook minor defects with a cheap used car than a brand new one that's cost a fortune.

I tend to buy nearly new where there is often a substantial cost saving, yet little possibility of serious defect.