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Tuesday, June 21
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What Car? Staff
1 Feb 2011 17:18

For this week's Q&A we welcomed Holly McAllister from the Motor Codes organisation to help you with used car and ownership problems.

Holly is the team leader at automotive watchdog Motor Codes, and heads up its consumer advice line - a service that takes more than 500 calls a month from motorists looking for advice on buying cars, warranties, car servicing and repairs.

The experts
The experts answering your questions are:

This week's experts
Appearing on this week's whatcar.com live Q&A:
Iain Reid: whatcar.com web producer
Leo Wilkinson: whatcar.com deputy editor
Matt Sanger: What Car? used car editor
Holly McAllister: Consumer advice team leader at Motor Codes

Ford Focus Powershift
Have you tested the Ford Focus with the Powershift automatic gearbox yet? If so, what's the verdict?

Leo Wilkinson: Hello Chris, I havent driven a Ford Focus Powershift, but I have driven other Ford models with the same transmission. It works well enough, but it can be a little jerky at times, particularly when youre edging in or out of a parking space. That said, you can say much the same about rival systems such as VWs DSG transmission. Theyre fine on the move, but not quite as smooth as a conventional automatic gearbox.

New car for the wife
Hi, I am looking for a new car for my wife. I have a budget of 20,000 and want a diesel car with plenty of room for our two kids. Do you have any recommendations?

Iain Reid: Hi Matt, I'd struggle to look past the Ford Mondeo. It has bags of room and the 2.0-litre 140 TDC model is a peach. Haggle and you will get it for substantially less than 20k. Find out more here:
Ford Mondeo review

Will code of practice have any bite?
I've read recent news articles about a code of practice from Motor Codes, which is targeting used car sales in particular. Will a code of practice actually have any teeth in reality? How will consumers actually benefit?

Holly McAllister, Motor Codes: Hi Bob. The Codes of Practice are backed by the OFT and Trading Standards, so they certainly do have teeth. Our Codes are about channelling custom to businesses that have demonstrated they deserve it. The Used Car Code will operate in the same way.

Dodgy dealer won't take my calls
Help! I purchased a 10-plate Ford S-Max four weeks ago. After I paid for the car, the dealer said the handbook was missing and he would get me one. What he did not tell me was that the service history was also missing and that the tyre/puncture kit has also gone astray. Now he won't return my calls and I don't have the service history.

Holly McAllister, Motor Codes: Hi Derek. It sounds to me like you have done everything you can to engage the retailer. If you expected a service history with the vehicle based on the advice of the seller, then you should get in touch with your local Trading Standards office. This is where our new Code of Practice could help, by assisting with an issue before it escalates.

Mid-sized hatch any suggestions?
I am looking for a mid-sized hatch that is comfortable and economical for my long commute to work. I also want one that holds its value, please.

Leo Wilkinson: Hello Bernie. My advice would be to get to your nearest VW dealership, haggle hard and you should be able to get a Golf 1.6 TDI Match 5dr for around 18,500. Its incredibly comfortable and economical and should still be worth 50% of its list price after three years.

ASR? What's that?
Hi. What does ASR stand for?

Leo Wilkinson: Hello Will. ASR stands for anti-slip regulation. Its the name that the VW Group (Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen) gives to traction control. The system limits wheelspin by reducing engine power if sensors detect that the driven wheels are losing traction. Unlike a more sophisticated stability control (ESP) system, ASR cant brake individual wheels to reduce the chances of the car skidding. Confusingly, cars fitted with ESP also have ASR. Hope that hasnt confused you even more

Seven-seat 4x4 for around 10k
I am looking for a 4x4 preferably with seven seats that's capable of towing a large caravan. It must be reliable, relatively economical and safe. My budget is around 10,000.

Matt Sanger: This is a pretty common question, although there are relatively few good answers.

Seven seats and being capable of towing a caravan mean it'll have to be a fairly hefty vehicle and, if youre concerned about economy, its got to be diesel powered.

Ive spent a fair amount of time looking at the latest reliability data, and, as a general rule, 4x4s are not that dependable.

Your best bet is the Hyundai Santa Fe. There aren't that many examples on the market for 10,000, though, so you'll need to haggle hard to get a good deal.

The Volvo XC60 is certainly big, and available with a diesel engine, but its reliability is questionable. Our data shows that more than 40% of cars suffer some form of breakdown and that the average repair cost is about 450.

How do I get my cash back?
If a big company miss-sells you a car, then completely ignores you when you try to get your money back, is there anything Motor Codes can do to help me? At the moment I am being forced to engage an expensive solicitor.

Holly McAllister, Motor Codes: Hi John. There is no alternative dispute resolution currently in place for the used car sector, so you are reliant upon the support of the law if the retailer wont deal with you. This is all the more reason to support Motor Codes in its development of a Used Car Sales Code to highlight responsible businesses and protect motorists.

What will a used car dealer Code cover?
I know that some main dealers already have approved used car schemes, but will a general used car Code cover the main dealers and independent traders and how can I find out which garages belong to the Motor Codes scheme?

Holly McAllister, Motor Codes: Hi Stevie. The Used Car Code will be open to all. We will even be consulting with the general public later in the year. You can search our Garage Finder at www.motorcodes.co.uk using your town or postcode. Check out the customer feedback and garage ratings.

New VW Beetle for boys or girls?
The new VW Beetle one for the guys or one for the girls?

Iain Reid: Hi Stephen. It's for guys and girls who like driving cars such as the Golf GTI

New VW Beetle based on the Golf

We will be driving the Beetle in August, so make sure you keep an eye out for our first review on whatcar.com