What car should I get and how much should I spend??

(16 Posts)
anyquestions Sat 13-Jun-15 14:09:05

We currently have an Astra hatchback which is over 10 years old and on its last legs. The model we have was the last one in the old shape. It is the one car for a family of four (kids are 14 and 12). We do a low mileage because car is not needed for any commuting to work. It's mainly used for journeys that are short car journeys but too far to be walking distance. We bought the car when it was nearly new (which is my preferred approach to cars, ie buy at nearly new and keep it until it wears out- as I find car buying stressful.)

Parking doesn't come easily to me, so my ideal car would be something tiny(!) but with a family of four there's obviously a limit to how tiny you can go. I have found Astra OK but would not want something significantly bigger. DH has become adept at fitting all four bikes on the roof when required. It's actually very rare that we have all four bikes on at the same time, but I wouldn't really want to lose the option to do so when required.

Have wondered about just getting another Astra hatchback, but my impression is that the newer models are smaller and might not fit four bikes on the roof, or might have less leg room/boot space.

I am also conscious that if we keep our next car for another 10 years, kids may pass their driving tests in that time and want adding to the insurance (which I'm sure will cost quite enough without accidentally picking something that is particularly costly to insure!)

Not really sure what a sensible budget is, assuming we buy nearly new again? Have no interest whatsoever in buying something "showy" but prepared to spend what we need to spend to get something that meets our needs.

Any advice appreciated!

Myricales Sat 13-Jun-15 14:13:56

"We currently have an Astra hatchback which is over 10 years old and on its last legs."

Why is it on its last legs, with a low mileage? I routinely keep cars ten or fifteen years, and I've run vehicles up to 180k miles with routine maintenance.

anyquestions Sat 13-Jun-15 14:19:23

That's a good question Myricales. We've had it serviced regularly, but at the moment it does seem that we are needing to spend money on it on a regular basis. Maybe Astras don't last well? Maybe we were just unlucky with ours? Genuinely don't know.

anyquestions Sat 13-Jun-15 14:22:06

Mileage still under 50K, but made up of lots of short journeys (particularly when kids were younger) which I imagine is not great for the car.

Myricales Sat 13-Jun-15 14:24:01

Not really sure what a sensible budget is, assuming we buy nearly new again?

I'd get something like this, if I were driving a low mileage (although it is a problem that the ex-lease disposals places are mostly diesel, as petrol would be more appropriate):

www.carselect.co.uk/used-car/details/1488355

VW Golf, 75k miles, 3 years old. Built like a brick outhouse, and I've run three VAG cars of that general type up to 150k miles without any drama.

Myricales Sat 13-Jun-15 14:30:11

We've had it serviced regularly, but at the moment it does seem that we are needing to spend money on it on a regular basis.

That may not matter. New-ish cars depreciate like fish left out on a warm work surface, and a grand a year spent on keeping a car going is cheaper than the depreciation on a newer one. It depends if it's letting you down at the roadside (bad) or just needs work at services (people are irrational about this).

I'm spending about a grand a year to keep my current car going. It's ten years old and worthless (I paid four grand for it five years ago, and it now has over 120k miles on) but drives like it's new. Spending a grand a year (or even two grand) on it is a perfectly rational thing to do, once you get away from the "it's more than it's worth" nonsense. The key question is "how much cash do I lose in order to have a reliable car for X years". They aren't investments, they're moneypits, and it's just a matter of figuring out how to stay mobile for the minimum outlay.

anyquestions Sat 13-Jun-15 14:31:53

Thanks for the advice. I've got in my head that diesels are best avoided, but can't immediately remember why! Less reliable? More expensive to run? Even less environmentally friendly than a petrol car?

Myricales Sat 13-Jun-15 14:39:07

Modern diesels run for low mileages can have problems with particulate filters, and maintenance can be more expensive hence my comment that petrol might be better if you can find it.

But small ex-lease cars tend to be diesels because they are run to inter-galactic mileages, where it makes sense, and VAG diesels last forever. A friend of mine put a quarter of a million miles on a diesel Passat.

People are irrationally afraid of (a) high mileages (b) ex-lease and (c) maintenance bills. A car with 70k lease miles on it will have had all the servicing done on the dot of when it's due. It'll start to need a regular round of brake disks, wheel bearings, track rod ends and all the other consumables that cars need as they get older, but the point is that you aren't paying the depreciation. At the last service my car needed two track rod ends, a radiator and a couple of brake discs, so with some routine stuff the bill was five hundred quid. That's, what, three months' depreciation on a newish car?

caroldecker Sat 13-Jun-15 14:43:49

As Myricales has said, a 1 year old Astra hatchback will cost c£10k, if you keep it for 10 years, then costing you £1,000 a year plus servicing. If your current car does the job and costs less than £1,000 in repairs, it is cheaper to keep what you have.

Myricales Sat 13-Jun-15 14:54:11

If your current car does the job and costs less than £1,000 in repairs, it is cheaper to keep what you have.

I suspect the problem for some people is that they're buying cars on credit, and it's easier to do that than budget for the variable repair costs. Hence the attraction of new cars sold on credit with five years' warranty and five years' maintenance, or whatever Hyundai are now doing. You're paying a high fixed monthly cost, which may be preferable to needing a repair fund just in case something expensive happens.

Most people learnt their car economics from their dads, and it isn't 1982 any more. Galvanisation means that cars don't rot, so the inevitable decline into MoT failures with phrases like "the sills need welding" are history. Modern lubricants and manufacturing are much better, so engines and gearboxes are usually good for 200k miles with routine maintenance (turbo might need replacing, if the car has one, at 100k). Fuel is low-sulphur, so the days of routine exhaust replacement have gone. You can budget for a cam belt every 70k, a clutch and a set of brake discs every 100k (less if you are heavy footed) but with reasonable care, you can run cars for fifteen years before they start needing more complex work.

anyquestions Sun 14-Jun-15 20:35:56

My issue with keeping the car we have is the worry that it will fail at a massively inconvenient time. We are due to book it into the garage tomorrow because there is clearly something wrong again. Fortunately, we had no urgent need to drive anywhere today, but it would have been a real worry if we had. In the earlier years of owning the car, we weren't faced with these unexpected breakdowns, and that's why I am feeling the time has come to get a new car. It's not that we can't cope with the repair bills, more the increased risk of finding ourselves unexpectedly without a car.

Gemauve Sun 14-Jun-15 22:46:09

We are due to book it into the garage tomorrow because there is clearly something wrong again

That's a good reason to get rid. But you've been unlucky to end up in that position: cars shouldn't be unreliable after 10 years and 50k, provided you follow the service schedule (a lot of people skip the "time-based" services and only service on mileage: they regret it later).

penisland Tue 16-Jun-15 20:31:04

VW Golf, 75k miles, 3 years old. Built like a brick outhouse

Hilarious! Maybe 20 years ago but that's certainly not the case these days. VAG build quality is nothing more than mediocre.

You might consider a Mazda 5 or Grand C-Max. They aren't that much bigger than an Astra and the pop up seats in the back will allow you to carry 6 or 7. You probably wouldn't want to run them as 6 or 7 seaters for long journeys.

Some people say that teenagers would find the back seats too small. I reckon, as long as the front seats are suitably adjusted it would be OK, but you'd have to judge that for yourself.

AprilShowers15 Sat 20-Jun-15 14:00:57

I've only ever had 1 car as I'm a new driver but my car is a tiny Citroen C1 which I love but it may be that it's too small for you and I did buy it new as the new version has a bigger boot. Although there are a few 5 door convertibles on auto trader that my friends been eyeing up and they're gorgeous!

My mum drives an Audi A3 Sportback and really likes it, she does a fair bit of mileage on her old one (50,000 miles in 3/4 years) and went in and got another one since it held up so well - the poor thing was practically turned into a van most weeks.

anyquestions Sun 21-Jun-15 22:54:47

Thanks for the suggestions.

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