Currently reading: James Ruppert: how to make money from your motor
There's a new car-sharing app that lets you hire people’s cars and rent out yours - is it a good idea?

Not sure what we all think about the sharing economy. In the old days, all that meant was giving a mate a lift somewhere. The upside was that they either bought you a pint of Watney’s Red Barrel or chipped in some money for petrol. Well, here is a modern-day, app-based equivalent and it is called Turo. 

The point is that some of us have more than one motor tucked up in our garages and it is, of course, impossible to drive them all at once. So why not let someone else borrow them, for a fee? They describe it as Airbnb but with motors and inevitably it all started in the US. I struggle with the concept of someone who isn’t me driving my cars. Especially one I’ve owned for 39 years. So I needed to have a reassuring chat with Turo’s UK director, Xavier Collins. 

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“We want to put a billion cars on the planet to better use and there are 31.3 million in the UK alone,” he said. “Essentially, we are disrupting car hire and trying to make the experience better from the owner’s and customer’s perspective.” 

Car hire is often a fairly rubbish experience and I can’t think of anything better than driving something interesting. The average trip on Turo earns an owner £130, with 75% of the trip’s cost paid direct to the car owner within five days. If an owner rented their car just five days a month, they would earn about £7800 a year – enough to cover typical repayments, road tax and insurance. Personally, I would see that as an opportunity to buy a 2011 Volvo C70 2.0 D3 SE with 70k miles. I’ve always liked the look of those and you can use them all year round. 

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Collins told me that there are owners in the US earning up to $50,000 a year renting out their Porsche 911 Cabriolets. They do have the Pacific Coast Highway as a playground, but that income is more than enough to cover any payments and it makes me think that I could buy a 2007 911 Carrera 4 with a modest sub-40,000 mileage at £35,990 and the rental money will pay for the Porsche. That’s car enthusiasts’ maths, of course, and potentially hiring it out a few times a month should raise around £500. 

According to Collins, a lot of the hires are people test driving. In the UK, there is a spike in drivers looking for Land Rover Defenders to find out what all the fuss is about. In the US, the most popular borrows are Teslas. 

Before you ask, there is insurance and all sorts of other technicalities, plus you might be better dropping the car off. I’d use it to hire a less boring car, but I’m not sure I’d trust anyone with one of mine, would you?

What we almost bought this week

Audi Coupé: ‘Part-ex to clear’: one phrase guaranteed to whet our appetite – and what a feast. This Audi Coupé, a 1990-reg 20-valve quattro, has a bulging workshop file and is used daily. That explains its 181,000 miles but don’t let that bother you since these old Audis can take their punishment, as its unmarked velour seats attest. It’s £4995. 

Tales from Ruppert’s garage

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 Bluemotion, mileage - 44,279: One of the hazards of commuting where my family lives is the number of pheasants unfamiliar with the Highway Code. They might well have right of way, but no matter how careful you are, contact is inevitable. 

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My daughter’s Golf did the unavoidable the other day and smashed the bracket that holds the radar in place. She taped it temporarily in place and then deconstructed the front end. That meant we could pull out some bent lower grille plastic. Days later, a new bracket arrived and she clipped the radar in place. Not sure if the pheasant survived but it owes us £11. 

Reader’s ride

Skoda Superb Estate: Tony Porter read my story about travelling long distances to buy a car and told us this tale: “I saw a 2016 Skoda Superb 190 TDI SE-L 4x4 Estate at under £20,000 and only 17,000 miles. But it was in Inverness and I live near Nottingham. 

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“I called the garage selling it and committed to buy if it was as described. After a seven-hour drive, I arrived at Inverness. We inspected each other’s cars and I paid the difference and set off home. I’m very happy with it and have done around 10,000 miles in it since June.”

Readers’ questions

Question: Is fitting winter tyres to a car worth the trouble and expense? Tony Brennan, Horley, Surrey 

Answer: If you’ve never been stopped by snow, you won’t think so, but those who have and have made the switch certainly do. Unconvinced? Fit all-season tyres instead. Autocar sibling title What Car? has tested the Michelin CrossClimate and rates it. John Evans

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Readers q winter

Question: A garage is stonewalling me regarding my complaint about its service. Who can I appeal to? James Davies, Talaton, Devon

Answer: If it’s a Motor-Ombudsman-accredited business and you’ve given them eight weeks to respond to your complaint, take it up with the ombudsman. If it isn’t a member, things are more complicated, with the small claims court your ultimate recourse. John Evans

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Question: At what ages should a car be bought and then sold? Martin Baker, Pease Pottage, Sussex

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Answer: ‘Buy at two, sell at four’ is a popular mantra in the trade. A two-year-old car has suffered its steepest depreciation but is still covered by a warranty, while the four-year-old still looks and feels fresh and should command a good price. John Evans 

Read more

James Ruppert: the best used car alternatives to buying on finance​

Winter tyre tips

James Ruppert: how long ago did your 'new' car leave the factory?​

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centenary 18 December 2018

Be very careful buying a car

Be very careful buying a car a 'long' distance away from your location. If it is outside manufacturer's warranty, getting the dealer to correct any issues that could have been present or developing within the first 6 months of ownership could be very tiresome and difficult. And if you ultimately reject the car, you'll have to take it back to where you bought it.

centenary 18 December 2018

LOL. Yes, just hire your car

LOL. Yes, just hire your car out to someone. Even if you know them, are you sure they will look after your 2nd car? And you did tell your insurance company your car is being hired out to almost any driver, right?

bomb 18 December 2018

Winter tyres are the best

Winter tyres are the best tyre to be on at this time of year whether it snows or not. It's a myth that it needs to snow for winter tyres to be worthwhile. That they might also keep you mobile when you need it most is a bonus.