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Opinions please - do I buy this car or not? What do I need to consider?

(17 Posts)
AnarchyAunt Fri 19-Jun-09 10:26:46

I am learning to drive and want to buy a car, and someone I know vaguely has offered me first refusal on theirs for £400 ono.

Its a 12yo Ford Escort (not sure exactly what model but has humongous boot), 1.6, petrol, 94k on clock, automatic, described as 'very reliable'. Has been owned by same family since new, man is a mechanic and has kept it well maintained. Had dent put in drivers door by speeding police car two years ago, been beaten out, no other damage. MOT til end of September, tax til end of Feb next year.

Being a car novice I have been canvassing opinions from more knowledgable people but they are split as to whether it is a really good buy or a don't-touch-with-bargepole-job [confuzzled]

So far, parents (sensible reasonably well informed about cars) have said yes, because we'd now exactly where it was coming from and that it has been looked after properly, its in good nick, I can afford it, automatic good for new driver.

Driving instructor says the same but warns automatic can make you lazy.

Two male friends who do all their own car maintanance (plus most work on other friends' cars) say NOOOOO. They reckon automatic is hard/expensive to fix, goes wrong easily, car too expensive for what it is, will be 'shitter' in their words. But then they are men who drive what I consider 'shitters' hmm

So of course MN must be the place for a wider survey - does it sound any good?

AnarchyAunt Fri 19-Jun-09 11:52:27

Oh come on, surely someone must want to suck their teeth and offer their opinion?

gomez Fri 19-Jun-09 11:55:02

If the auto box goes then the car is pretty much a goner. However at £400 even if you get 6/12 months out of it then not too shabby.

I would ask the seller to put another MOT on it and see their reaction. If confident in the car they should be okay with this. You could offer to pay for the test - around £40 I think.

Good luck with your test!

scaryteacher Fri 19-Jun-09 12:01:00

Well my Saab is an S reg (98) and has done 134000 miles, and I expect it to go on til 250000....the mileage doesn't sound bad.

You can get the RAC to have a look at it and tell you what they think of it.

I wouldn't buy an automatic personally as on the occasions I drove one, I felt like it was driving an armchair...there was no interaction with the car really. Driving a manual will give you a better feel for driving and what a car does.

However, dh loves his automatic rangy, so it horses for courses.

AnarchyAunt Fri 19-Jun-09 12:01:48

Thank you - I'm going to try and get it for £350 ish so a year out of it would be fine by me tbh.

MOT good idea, not something I would ever think to ask!

AnarchyAunt Fri 19-Jun-09 12:02:29

Driving an armchair sounds looovely to me grin

YanknCock Fri 19-Jun-09 12:37:20

We have an automatic. DH (English) tells everyone we have it because I'm American, but the real reason was because he was a very unconfident, inexperienced driver when we got the car. He is improving, but it takes all his concentration to be in the right lane and watching the traffic.

Agree though, if the gearbox goes you are stuffed. I would never ever buy a Ford in the U.S. again, as the ones I had had all manner of problems, but over here they seem to be a lot more reliable!

scaryteacher Fri 19-Jun-09 12:46:51

Even if you buy a manual you are stuffed if your clutch, master cylinder or gear box goes, so automatic versus manual is personal choice really iyswim.

VeraChuckandDave Fri 19-Jun-09 16:15:42

Check for rust, particularly underneath. Can be a problem on older Fords.

AnarchyAunt Fri 19-Jun-09 19:29:27

My DM has said she will get the woman who runs the garage she uses to take a look at it for me - will mention rust.

macherie Fri 19-Jun-09 19:41:50

I have driven an automatic for years, I would never consider buying a manual again.

I live in a city and spend a lot of time in traffic, why bother with all those gear changes if you don't have to?

AnarchyAunt Fri 19-Jun-09 20:43:04

I keep being told they are less reliable and harder to fix.

Going to look at it next week with a more knowledgeable person in tow!

pooka Fri 19-Jun-09 20:47:38

I wouldn't get an automatic of that age TBH.

Does the 1.6 push you into a higher insurance bracket? Would a smaller engine be more economical?

Disclaimer though - I loathe automatics generally, in terms of driving them. Also, have friends and family who have found that their automatics didn't just keep going on and on - almost like they had in-built life span.

risingstar Sat 20-Jun-09 12:58:01

echo what others have said. for £400 (or £350???negotiate) you are always taking a risk-but a limited one. If you are lucky you could get 2/3 years out of it and still negotiate a bit off your next one as a p/ex. if you are unlucky it will need money spent but in reality you are limiting your risk to the original money you have spent on it. it won't be worth spending a fortune on a new gear box etc, so no decision to be made. TBH there are a lot more risky deals! I seriously would go for it. If i had just passed my test, i would buy a car like that! agree re mot, worth paying the price only if you are guaranteed no mot probs for 12 months- lets face it, it works out at £30 a month-cheaper than the bus. now, the insurance is a whole different matter,,,,,,,

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 21-Jun-09 02:38:46

As you will be a new driver, AnarchyAunt, I wouldn't recommend an automatic, because it's too easy to forget what your left leg is for in a manual car.

I learned on manuals, drove elderly manuals for years, then bought an automatic. (That it was automatic was the only thing against it.) When I had to hire a car while mine was being fixed after KwikFit broke it, I found myself wondering why the car had stalled at traffic lights - may have had something to do with sitting still while in fifth gear. blush

Having said that, my automatic recently dropped all it's transmission oil (which means the gear box wouldn't work). While it was being fixed (not a big job, there was no damage to the gearbox itself) I borrowed DH's car, which is an elderly Primera I used to drive until I bought my auto, and I had no problems at all - maybe the familiar environment woke up my left leg!

In short, you're going to be a nervous newbie once anyway. If you go for this auto, you'll be a nervous newbie again when you buy your first manual.

But it's up to you - the car itself is probably a good buy.

AnarchyAunt Sun 21-Jun-09 09:32:46

Hmmm yes I did wonder if it was a problem to get an automatic for those reasons.

Having said that what makes me nervous is all the other cars, and the fact I have shaky steering (poor hand/eye coordination), and my instructor reckons that will be my downfall as I have a good grasp of the clutch/gears.

So I was thinking maybe an automatic as a first car might mean I could concentrate on getting over the sheer terror of transporting myself and DD at more-than-walking-pace-with-big-things-zooming-past-us blush and then get a manual when it conks out and I am (hopefully) more confident on the road.

Or does it not work like that?

nannyL Sun 21-Jun-09 18:52:18

i would not get an automatic for the first car and vote "no"

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