Who has What Car? helped this month – June 2017

Readers contact our Helpdesk every day with questions and appeals for help with car-related problems. Here are their stories

Words ByClaire Evans

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Skoda Fabia

Why is there a discrepancy in resale values?

One reader wonders why the resale values in What Car? group tests differ from the prices of used car prices being sold by dealers

My wife and I are currently considering buying a second-hand car, because we’re expecting our first baby to arrive this summer. We are looking for a car that’s no more than three years old.

I was interested in your three-car group test of the Nissan Micra, Renault Clio and Skoda Fabia (Awards 2017 issue), but it seems to me that the figures you quote in the resale value (by year) section of the β€˜What it will cost you’ panel seem unrealistically low. For example, it states that the resale value of a two-year-old Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90 SE is Β£6302. However, the asking price for an approved used Fabia (March 2015 registration) with the same engine and trim is Β£8985.

This is a whopping difference of 42% in value between the real-world example and the values indicated in the magazine. In other words, in the real world, this two-year-old model of the Skoda Fabia seems to have retained 64% of its value, instead of the 45% in the magazine. Even with skilful negotiation, the gap between these two values would be difficult to overcome. Can you explain why this difference exists?

Tamas Feher

What Car? says...

The values listed in the magazine are for the cars’ predicted trade-in values after one, two, three and four years. In other words, they’re the prices you should expect to get for the car if you sell it or trade it in, rather than the price you can expect to pay if you’re buying that model at that age.

Trade-in values are generally a fair bit lower than the retail prices asked for second-hand cars by dealers to give themselves a margin of profit and to cover any costs they might incur from work they have to do to get the car ready for resale.

The approved used Fabia you’ve seen advertised online is slightly overpriced for a retail example. Our CAP valuation service states that the retail price for a 2015 Fabia with 50,000 miles should be around Β£8700.

Request for auto advice

What's the best automatic car for coping with Welsh hills?

Can you give me some advice about which second-hand cars with automatic gearboxes would be most suitable for drivers aged over 60, please? We don’t mind what size of car it is or if it’s a three or five-door, as long as it’s got enough oomph to cope with hills and motorways, because we live in North Wales.

We currently drive a Peugeot, and a friend has recommended Skoda as a good-value, reliable brand, but we’re happy to consider any make or model that offers good running costs. Our budget is up to Β£6000.

Mr and Mrs Bennett

What Car? says...

Good models to consider include the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf, both of which are among our favourite family-sized hatchbacks. A 2011 Octavia or Golf with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and DSG automatic gearbox that’s covered around 75,000 miles should be within your budget. Although annual VED will cost Β£150, the 1.4 petrol engine should be reasonably cheap to run with official overall economy of 45mpg.

Standard hatchbacks have fairly low seats, so if you’d prefer a car that’s easier to get in and out of, we’d suggest looking at the Golf Plus, which has a more MPV-like bodystyle.

If you want free car tax, you could consider a hybrid, such as the Toyota Auris or Prius. Neither has the best handling, but they are roomy and their 1.8-litre petrol engine should take the hills of North Wales in their stride. You should be able to get a 2011 Auris or a 2010 Prius for Β£6000. Although you’re unlikely to achieve the claimed 70mpg, fuel economy should still be good.

A case study

Spanish reader asks for advice about luggage capacity in Seat cars

I am planning a trip to Porto, Spain, with four friends and need to hire a car to drive to Lisbon and southern Spain. We are five slim women who will each have one carry-on suitcase. Will the boot of a Seat Ibiza be big enough for our cases, or should we hire a different car?

Dr Carole

What Car? says...

The Ibiza hatchback’s boot is 93cm wide, 85cm tall and 71cm long with the back seats in place. So, if you each have a standard cabin case measuring 54x37x24cm, you will only be able to get four of them in the boot. Iβ€˜d suggest you consider a Seat Leon instead, because that is a larger model with more room for your passengers and a boot that’s big enough for all five suitcases.

Battery issues

CitroΓ«n owner asks why his Grand C4 Picasso's engine stop-start system doesn't work all the time

I own a 2012 CitroΓ«n Grand C4 Picasso 2.0 HDi that I’m generally very happy with. However, the engine’s stop-start system, which used to kick in regularly when the car was stationary in traffic, no longer activates very often. Recently, it will only work for five to 10 miles after I’ve done a motorway journey of more than 100 miles. Is this normal and, if not, what can be done to fix it?

Steve Wilbur

What Car? says...

It sounds like your car’s battery is struggling to support the stop-start system. The battery has to be at a certain level of charge to allow the stop-start system – which is continually drawing from it – to kick in. The capacity of a car’s battery diminishes as it ages, so it’s less able to power the systems that rely on it. So, although your car’s battery is still strong enough to assist with starting the car, it can’t cope with the extra strain of the stop-start system.

We’d suggest trickle charging the battery overnight to see if that helps. You could also get it checked at a car spares shop and consider replacing it if its capacity is too diminished.

Diesel dilemma

Reader has concerns over choosing a diesel car

I’m aiming to buy a second-hand Audi Q3, around a 62/63 plate, but after all the recent bad publicity about diesels, I don’t know if I should buy one with a diesel engine. I live in the Midlands and do around 20,000 miles a year – a mixture of motorway and urban driving. Should I buy diesel?

Chloe Vickers

What Car? says...

Don’t let the recent press coverage about diesel car emissions put you off this fuel type altogether. The latest diesel-engined cars that comply with Euro 6 regulations are pretty clean. Find out more in our advice piece called Should I buy a diesel car?.

If you’d rather go for a petrol Q3 and want the greenest option, we’d suggest a model with the slightly newer 1.4 TFSI engine, which has the same 137g/km CO2 emissions as the 2.0-litre diesel Q3 but has a much lower NOx (nitrogen oxides) output. But given your mileage, a diesel would make financial sense.

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