Niall’s virtual diary archives – Sunday 6th November 2016

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Sunday 6th November 2016: 12.06pm. Link shared: https://plus.google.com/+nialldouglas/posts/BYnxb6buUDr

Readers may remember me musing about what newer car to get about four months ago at https://plus.google.com/+nialldouglas/posts/BYnxb6buUDr where due to living in Ireland I had some very odd selection criteria: 2008 or later to get the CO2 based motor tax, diesel because that's unusually cheap in Ireland, closer to €500 than a grand a year to insure, total budget €7k, and to avoid like the plague all early model DPF diesels which have expensive teething bugs both in the DPF and in their ECUs. Well now is the time for purchase, and for a few weeks now I've been watching out for that Executive trim non-DPF CDTI Accord which was sold in Britain until June 2008, giving me a six month window.

However, now that I am hunting actively, two new factors have emerged. The first is that I had thought all cars at UK auctions come with mechanical worthiness reports, and they do up to eight years old only. That means four months ago the Accords I wanted had a mechanical test report, and now they don't, and I find very substantial risk in buying over the internet an eight year old high mileage diesel as about one quarter of them will have something substantially mechanically wrong with them.

The second new factor is the amazing depreciation of Ford cars. I can buy a top of the range Mondeo or Focus for a lot less than a 2008 Accord, which makes sense as well, just compare the three with your eyes. But I can even pick up a 2011 end of its model generation pristine Focus (by which time all the DPF and ECU bugs had been ironed out) with 70k on the clock and perfect service history for only a grand more than a 2008 Accord with 100k on the clock, and that makes me pause.

On the one hand, an Accord is a far nicer car than the Mondeo and especially the Focus. Nicer to look at, nicer to drive, nicer to be inside. And you can pay €50 or so to have a mechanical inspection done at the auction house on your behalf before you decide to bid. On the other hand, the Focus has ten years of low insurance costs versus seven for the Accord (in Ireland insurers raise premiums very significantly once the car reaches fifteen, we're looking at over a grand next year for our existing sixteen year old car), has half the insurance loading and half the annual motor tax, gets 18% more miles per gallon (that's real MPG not fake MPG), gets maximum NCAPs for crash safety which the Accord definitely does not, is less than half the cost to repair especially as Irish scrap yards are full of the very popular Foci, and finally is much easier to navigate around tiny Irish country roads.

Sometimes I go with my heart than my head, but when spending seven grand and knowing that my income is utterly unstable with zero guarantees I'll earn anything at all in 2017 I have to follow my head. The Focus, sadly, it will be, albeit at the top possible trim level (thank you Ford depreciation!).

Last post someone suggested the Mazda 3 which has the same diesel engine as the Focus (actually a huge number of cars from Suzuki to Volvo share that 1.6L diesel, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_DLD_engine#DLD-416). It's actually the same base car as the Focus mk. 2, just different finish, and the auction market in those is very limited compared to Fords. Some have suggested the VW Golf and its VAG equivalents in Skoda etc, however the 2009-2013 diesel Golf platform is well known to be severely unreliable (see http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/volkswagen/golf-vi-2009/). Any other suggestions? Bring on the comments!

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