Buying and selling

Which is best? Automatic gearbox, DSG, CVT, or automated manual

automatic gearbox

There are various automatic gearboxes on the market, but which is the best? (Picture © Kia)

Once upon a time, drivers simply had the choice between manual or automatic gearboxes. Now for anyone who wants to let the car’s electronic brain take the strain, there are a variety of different self-shifting gearboxes available.

Thanks to advances in technology, automatic gearboxes have become far more efficient. And as they can accommodate more ratios – some have 10 speeds – they help drivers to save fuel too.

Here we explain the difference between the four main types of automatic gearbox and look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Automatic gearbox

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Virtual reality letting buyers test new models without the car there

Test drive a Mazda CX-5 using virtual reality

Taking a test drive is one of the most exciting things about buying a car. But most drivers will agree that waiting months for a new model to arrive in showrooms, and having to go from one car dealer to another, invariably giving up their Saturday or Sunday in the process, is a chore they could do without.

That could soon become a thing of the past. New technology is bringing the car to the customer. Without even leaving home, it is now possible to conduct a test drive from the comfort of a favourite armchair – thanks to advances in virtual reality.

Car makers including Audi, Ford, Mazda, Peugeot and Volvo are experimenting with virtual reality as they look for new ways to entice car buyers. Here’s why it could play a part when you buy your next car.  Continue reading

Is part exchanging your car for a new model the easy way to sell it?

Part exchanging

Part exchanging your car for a new model can be straightforward

The car buyer’s conundrum has long centred around whether part exchanging is the best way to sell a used car. A few years ago, it could be more profitable than selling a car privately for some sellers. And it’s always been the most convenient. But is that still the case? We investigate part exchanging cars.

What is part exchanging?

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How to cancel vehicle tax and reclaim any that’s not been used

How to cancel vehicle tax and reclaim unused road tax

Anyone who was driving before 2014 may turn misty-eyed at memories of tax discs. Brightly coloured pieces of paper used to be displayed in the windscreen, to prove a driver had paid vehicle tax.

In addition to serving as a quick and simple visual reminder that car tax needed to be renewed, it let authorities easily check whether Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) had been paid. And there was another benefit to it. Anyone selling a used motor could charge for the remaining car tax that was to be enjoyed by the new owner. Alternatively, drivers buying a second-hand car could use the need for new tax to haggle down the price of the car.

In the digital age, that’s no longer the case. Anyone that sells their car and has outstanding VED on it should reclaim the amount paid from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). For the same reason, those buying a new or used car must tax it before they can legally drive away.

But it’s not only when drivers sell their car that they can reclaim tax. If a motor is being taken off the road, scrapped, declared a write-off by an insurance company, or stolen the tax can be reclaimed. Here’s how. Continue reading

Undercover shoppers ask if it’s too easy to get car finance with shock result

Undercover shoppers ask if it's too easy to get car finance

The young driver walked into the Audi showroom and gazed at the gleaming new cars. They looked a million dollars, but unfortunately the 24-year old driver was unemployed and didn’t expect he’d qualify for a loan to buy a new model. He was wrong.

Within minutes, a salesman says he’s confident that a new Audi A1, worth more than £15,000, could be the young man’s. Spend £215 a month, for 48 months, and he can hit the road. And after a final payment of nearly £7000, the car is his for keeps.

Despite being unemployed, the process of securing a loan to own the car was predicted to be straightforward.

A salesman says not having a job won’t make any difference. He explains: “We drop it down to the finance company, they’ll do a credit check on you. It’s not a case of you not having a job today and having a job tomorrow. We just need to see what the finance company says.”

However, the young man was an undercover reporter for the Daily Mail. He was one of a team that visited 22 dealerships. And the findings were prompted the question: is it too easy to get a car loan?  Continue reading

Car buying online: your next motor could come from an internet dealer

car buying online

Peugeot already has an online car buying platform

The way we purchase our motors is changing with car buying online becoming increasingly popular. There’s no shock in that. What is perhaps surprising is that the move to buying over the internet is taking such a long time. New figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) show that figures for web car sales are currently miniscule. But within the decade a fifth of all new cars will be bought online. Here’s all you need to know about the online sales boom.

Surely you can buy cars online now

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Scrappage is back! How Vauxhall’s scheme works

Scrappage

Chop in a banger and Vauxhall will give you £2000 off a shiny new Corsa (Picture © Vauxhall)

The scrappage scheme is back. However, this isn’t the proposed government-backed scheme to remove the most polluting diesel vehicles from the road. This is an incentive devised by car maker Vauxhall in a bid to sell more motors.

Anyone buying a new Vauxhall Adam, Corsa, Meriva, Astra or Mokka X will have a contribution of £2000 towards their new car. But they must trade in their old model. Here’s how it works.

What is scrappage?

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Car safety equipment: the key kit drivers want to be fitted as standard

Car safety equipment

Car safety equipment such as self-braking can stop cars crashing if the driver isn’t paying attention (Picture © Thatcham)

More than four out of five drivers want safety equipment such as automatic braking to be standard on new cars. And safety campaigners are urging drivers to buy only cars with it fitted as standard. They hope this will pressure car makers into fitting the tech more widely.

Currently, only one of Britain’s top 10 best-selling cars – the Mercedes-Benz C-Class – comes with automatic braking as part of its normal equipment. But research has found that when it’s an optional extra, car buyers ignore it. Instead they favour more tangible everyday kit such as sunroofs or upgraded sound systems. And according to studies, a fifth of car buyers refuse to pay extra for safety equipment.

Despite this, researchers for Stop the Crash found that 83 per cent of drivers actually want safety kit such as automatic braking to be standard. Chairman of Stop the Crash David Ward said: “This research shows how important safety is to the consumer. But it highlights how this often fails to translate into safety options being purchased in the showroom. Manufacturers must offer safety systems as standard with proven ability to save lives.”

What is automatic braking?

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Buyer beware: how to spot a used car that’s been cloned

Buyer beware how to spot a used car that's been cloned

Buy a cloned car in good faith and it is likely to be impounded by the police, and you’ll have nothing to show for your money

Most people will be familiar with identity theft. Criminals gain valuable sensitive information about an individual in order to impersonate them and take out loans or credit in their name. But how many drivers have heard of cloned cars? And even if the expression is familiar, how do you tell a fake, cloned car from a genuine model?

A cloned car is a model that has been stolen then given a new identity. This is generally by replacing its number plates with those from a car that’s the same make, model, colour and even age. It means that the car won’t register as dodgy in basic ID checks such as those from police Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras.

It’s a problem that more drivers need to be aware of. Last week, eBay hit the headlines after it was revealed that organised criminals in Manchester had been using the popular car buying site to sell stolen cars as legitimate vehicles.

It means that when drivers fail to conduct full and thorough checks of a used car, they can end up handing over a small fortune for a car that will be taken off their hands by the police, leaving them with no car and no money. Meanwhile, the crooks vanish into thin air.

One victim, a retired police officer, lost £17,000 buying a Mercedes. Another paid more than £18,000 for a BMW that turned out to be stolen and was soon returned to its rightful owner by police, leaving him penniless.

These are the steps every used car buyer should take to protect themselves from buying a cloned car.

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Is Britain’s car finance market in danger of a PPI style mis-selling scandal?

Is Britain's car finance market in danger of a PPI mis-selling scandal?

How did you buy your car? If you entered into a finance agreement to help afford the model of your dreams, experts are warning that you could be a victim of the nation’s next potential mis-selling scandal.

Failing to explain the terms and conditions of complicated loan products and the true cost of borrowing could mean thousands of British drivers have been mis-sold finance products. It’s similar to the way payment protection insurance (PPI) was scandalously mis-sold.

Those are the warnings from analysts who allege thousands of drivers on PCP (personal contract purchase) deals may have been sold the loans without having the terms properly explained to them. The fear is they may be unable to keep up payments in an economic slump.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is now investigating the industry. It fears less well-off customers may be paying too much for credit. But its findings won’t be reported until next year. In the meantime, what measures can drivers take to see if they might be affected? Continue reading