Second-hand makes sense says motoring expert

While you might want to add the car shampoo and top of the range detailing products to a brand spanking new motor, Neil Lyndon of the Daily Telegraph says there’s never been a better time to buy a used car.

The current gloomy economic climate means that demand for new vehicles has fallen and as a result you can pick up quite a good deal on the forecourt but used cars now represent much better value.

Mr Lyndon says this is largely due to advances in built quality and safety standards.

Indeed, cars simply do not age like they used to. Not so long ago a ten year old car wouldn’t be much better than an old jalopy from a western drama but now a 51 or 52 plate vehicle often looks similar to new.

Mr Lyndon does advise some caution when looking for a pre-owned motor though.

“Cardinal rules are: don’t buy a car from a friend if you want to stay friends. And don’t buy a car sight unseen on the internet unless you have been certified as a fool. There are more stolen cars and fake registrations on the web than can be contained in all the country’s police pounds,” he said.

“The prudent approach is the same as for a new car. First, check out the What Car? website for reviews of the second-hand models you fancy.

“Then read the reviews on Honest John’s website and check their reliability on Warranty Direct’s analysis of cars for which the most warranty claims have been registered.”

He added that you should spend time studying Parkers used car guide so that you get a firm grasp what exactly your desired car does and, more importantly, what value it should have.

Mr Lyndon picked some cars that have been around for a while but still score top marks in terms of cost and reliability.

Amongst the plethora of small hatchbacks out there he singled out Kia’s Picanto (2004 – 11) as a recent survey suggested that it is the most reliable cars around and has a lower than average depreciation value.

He says that his mother-in-law purchased one in 2009 and is yet to encounter a single problem with it. Depending on age and mileage, prices range between £1,000 and £6,700.

Kia was also his pick for small family cars. He says that the Cee’d (2007 -) is well manufactured, reliable and with prices starting from just £3,500 it is very reasonable

On top of that all Cee’d’s carried a seven-year warranty so that will still have some life left to run on it of Kia’s seven-year warranty.

But if you buy one- less than 18 months old with less than 18,000 miles on the clock, you can contact Kia and they will top up the warranty to the full seven years.

For family saloons he recommended that Ford Mondeo (2000 -07) as it’s build is “close to German standards” and it’s TDCI diesel engine is “near to faultless as human engineering can achieve”.

The Skoda Octavia was also suggested, especially as an estate model.

For a compact 4×4 Mr Lyndon suggested Toyota’s RAV4 (2006 -), but the best car on the pre-owned market overall, he claims, is the BMW 5-series (2003 – 10).

He said: “This was the finest in the world when new, and it remains superlative as a second-hand buy. Price range ought to be £5,000-£30,000 but £10,000 should buy as great a car as you might ever own.”

Do bear in mind the cost of actually running the car as well.

Recent figures from the RAC shows that the cost of motoring has shot up by an incredible 14 per cent in the past year, with the average driver are now shelling out £128.64 each week just keep their motor on the road.

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