Great escapes: the best new and used cars for a road trip

Jaguar F-type convertible

The road trip is an American institution, a right of passage for drivers who crave the freedom of the open road, the feeling of the wind in their hair and the thought of leaving life’s worries behind. Little wonder then, that like rock n’ roll, super-size portions and sponsored weather reports, the road trip is catching on with British drivers.

A great escape could involve a gentle amble to view the setting sun from the perfect vantage point just as much as it could a two-week long tour of landmark cities or a blast through the French and Italian Alps.

To make it more memorable, however, you need the ideal driving companion. We’re not talking about Thelma and Louise; we’re talking about the perfect car for your chosen road trip. Here are three new favourites, and three used alternatives, that won’t let you down when the time comes to keep those wheels rolling. Continue reading

Telematics: How new Alert Me is helping to make cars clever

Green Flag Alert Me

Breaking down could become a thing of the past with telematics

Technology that only a few years ago would have seemed like a dream is now coming to a car near you. The latest can predict if your car is going to break down. It’s estimated it could save British drivers 38,000 hours waiting for roadside rescue with their conked-out car.

Green Flag Alert Me plugs into the car’s On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port. From there, the matchbox-sized device monitors the car’s battery and electronic brain. This enables it to record changes such as the battery failing to hold its charge before the driver would ordinarily notice them. If it does see changes, Alert Me reports it to Green Flag over the mobile phone network. Green Flag then notifies the driver via a smartphone app or text message. Continue reading

Petrol v diesel v hybrid v electric: which is the best and cheapest to own?

Petrol v diesel v hybrid v electric

The plug-in Golf GTE looks great but how does it stack up against its more conventional petrol and diesel siblings? (Picture © Volkswagen)

The debate over which is the best fuel is becoming an increasingly hot topic among car buyers. Petrol v diesel v hybrid v electric: which really is the best type of car to own? To try to find the answer, we’ve taken Volkswagen’s perennially popular Golf, the only model available in the UK that uses all four kinds of power source, and crunched the numbers.

We’ve split our report into four sections. This enables us to look at how the different versions of the Golf compare to each other in key areas of price, performance, economy, and running costs. The cars are ranked by our favoured criteria in each chart with the model at the top the best. It’s a fascinating read.

Buying

Model Fuel Price Per month
Golf 1.0 TSI BlueMotion Petrol £20,765 £205
Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion Diesel £22,360 £302
e-Golf Electric £27,180 £345
Golf GTE Petrol/electric £31,055 £493

Continue reading

How to make the most money out of selling your car to a dealer

Selling your car to a dealer

Selling to a dealer you could be up against him. Follow our tips to ensure you don’t come off second best

Although you frequently get the most money shifting used cars privately, selling your car to a dealer is surprisingly popular. Nearly half of the 7.2 million used cars sold every year go to traders according to British Car Auctions. But if you thought buying a car from a dealer was hard work, you should try selling to one.

Getting the best price can be tricky: traders are hard and often skilled negotiators. It is, after all, something they do every day of their working lives, not once every couple of years like the rest of us. The result is that sellers often don’t get as much as their car is really worth. Here are seven things to concentrate on that should help you get as much money as possible for it.

How old is it and what condition is it in?

Continue reading

How to get a better deal on car finance: follow these six simple steps

How to get a better deal on car finance - in five simple steps

The first six months of 2016 have seen a record number of drivers collect the keys to a shiny new car. Car finance has been driving this boom with more than 80 per cent of private buyers using credit to fund their purchase.

For buyers, using car finance is a simple way of enjoying a car they might not be able to own outright. For dealers and manufacturers, the explosion in the popularity of finance means increasing numbers of cars flowing out of showrooms.

However, many consumers don’t realise that it is possible to haggle over how much car finance costs. As we motor towards the September registration change, where around a fifth of the new cars sold this year are expected to leave dealerships, here are some simple steps car buyers can follow to get a better finance deal.

Do you want to end up owning the car?

Continue reading

New car add-ons: Do you really need them?

new car add-ons

They might not be smiling as much when they realise they’ve paid over the odds for a product they don’t need…

September is one of the busiest months for new car sales. For the tens of thousands of drivers upgrading their car, one thing’s certain: they won’t escape the dealership without being offered a host of new car add-ons which will come with the promise of protecting their investment. But do drivers really need them?

For sales executives, extras such as GAP insurance, wheel and tyre protection, an extended warranty and pre-paid servicing are ways of getting extra money out of customers. Just as extended warranties are a tried and trusted means of electrical goods retailers getting customers to pay more for their purchases, so are new car add-ons. We look at the most popular and assess whether they’re worth ticking on the list or flicking and ignoring.

New car add-ons: servicing packages

Continue reading

Which new car options are worth paying extra for?

Which new car options are worth paying extra for?

Not so long ago, choosing optional extras to be fitted to a new car was a guessing game. Unless a dealer had a similar car with fitted with similar options for customers to view, you’d place ticks on an order form and hope for the best. Today, the online car configurator means drivers can easily judge whether larger wheels look better, or if a panoramic sunroof and tan leather upholstery is a better bet than a regular sunroof with black leather trim.

Online configurators are big business. Car companies invest huge sums of money in making them as realistic as possible, because they can make huge sums of money from selling customers optional extras. And the list of those extras is as long as your arm.

Sometimes those options are a good choice. They’ll make driving safer or more comfortable for the owner of the car. But just as often, they’re a waste of money, costing hundreds or even thousands when ordered but worth precious little when the time comes to sell the car.

That’s the view of Rupert Pontin, the Director of Valuations at Glass’s Guide, the organisation that has been monitoring the values of used cars since 1933 – long before there were such things as optional extras.

Glass’s cautions buyers to think before they upgrade. It says that typically, the original cost of any option falls in value faster than the original cost of the car. It’s also better to invest in a higher trim level than to pick a basic car and pile on the options.

So which options are worth adding to a new car? Here are five wise buys.

Continue reading

Five useful apps for drivers planning a great escape over bank holiday weekend and beyond

Five useful apps for drivers planning a great escape over bank holiday weekend and beyond

The end of the summer holiday season is fast approaching which means that, despite children often doing their best to wear out mum and dad faster than the batteries of a radio controlled toy, millions of parents are planning last minute getaways to make the most of spending time together as a family.

Typically the most popular time to plan a last minute great escape is over a bank holiday. The next is on Monday, 29 August (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and more often than not arranging any trip involves packing the family into the car.

To help the bank holiday go smoothly for drivers, we’ve rounded up five useful apps that can take the stress out of travelling.

Continue reading

Expert advice: How to make your car last forever

Car last forever

If the last owner had looked after it a bit better, this might still be running…

It would be great if we could make a car last forever like Irvin Gordon did. The American driver and Guinness World Records holder, runs a Volvo P1800S coupe that has clocked up more than three million miles and counting over the last 50 years. That might be pushing it a bit for most of us. But there are plenty of things we can do to keep cars healthy for as long as possible.

Whether your car is brand new or more than 10 years old, there are simple steps to keep it running smoothly: from being gentle with an engine as it warms up, to treating it to a regular wash. These are my tricks of the trade when it comes to making a car go the distance.

Make a car last forever: regular maintenance

Continue reading

Car clocking, buying stolen – what used car buyers must look out for

Car clocking

Digital mileage counters were supposed to stop clocking. They haven’t

Car clocking is on the increase. One in four used cars are sold with outstanding finance. Thirty stolen cars are sold every day. Scam emails from the DVLA. Dodgy V5C log books. Despite all the checks in place, the used car buyer has never been more at risk. We outline the threats and how you can combat them.

Car clocking

The practice of rewinding a vehicle’s mileage to boost its value increased by 10 per cent in 2015, according to the Local Government Association (LGA). In the last eight months of 2015, the LGA claims that millions of miles were wiped off car mileage clocks by dodgy car dealers.

How do you spot car clocking? Continue reading