Do you find yourself being dragged into your friend's car-buying dilemmas? The problem with knowing anything more than nothing about secondhand cars is that, to many desperate souls, your limited knowledge of the genre is enough to give you expert status.

And so it proved the other day, when a friend asked me to help sell her Skoda Fabia. Having been told the Skoda was too young for scrappage, she's bought a nearly-new BMW 1-series privately, and suddenly finds herself with two cars and one parking space.

A spin in the Fabia confirmed its fundamental soundness - despite the constant presence of the 'check engine' warning light - but shabby bodywork meant it was going to need a fair bit of tidying to realise anything like it's true value.

Less than 24 hours later, in one of those truth-stranger-than-fiction twists, another mate got in touch to say that the 1997 Rover 414 that I'd sourced for him three years ago had finally expired, killed - as are so many of its ilk - by a blown head gasket. No pressure, but did he know where he could urgently source a replacement on a tight budget?

It saved me from having to crawl around the oily end of the classifieds anyway. The Fabia has a new home, its roughness excused by a bargain price, and the driveway is free for the BMW 1-series.

A complete fluke, but I can't remember having been involved in a more satisfying secondhand car transaction.

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