Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category


I got a press release today that I thought was one of the best I’ve read all year, I’m very happy to publish it word for word, enjoy.

“Alfa Romeo Ireland Responds to Comments Made by
VW’s Ferdinand Piëch at the Paris Motorshow
 
The chairman of Volkswagen, Ferdinand Piëch, publically stated his desire to acquire the iconic Alfa Romeo brand at the Paris Motorshow last week. However, we at Alfa Romeo Ireland believes his comments may have been misconstrued. Mr. Piëch, like thousands of other Alfa Romeo fans around the world, may simply have been expressing his desire to own an Alfa Romeo, most likely the all-new Giulietta – a car which Top Gear Magazine says “might just be the best car that Alfa has built in its 100 years of existence.” After all, the Giulietta offers the sort of quality and refinement Mr. Piëch is well accustomed in his products, but with that extra dash of desirability that you only get with an Alfa Romeo.
 
The 73-year old also seems prepared to wait a long time for his new Giulietta. “Time works in our favour on such a deal,” he was heard to comment. “Ask me again in two years’ time.” However, Alfa Romeo Ireland would like Mr. Piëch to know that although demand for the Giulietta is likely to push Alfa Romeo’s sales beyond 150,000 in 2011 (keeping the brand on target for sales of 300,000 by 2014 as outlined by Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne in Fiat Group Automobile’s five-year business plan announced last April) there are no supply issues with the Giulietta and he can actually have one today if he so wishes. Nor will waiting two years help Mr. Piëch negotiate a better price for his new Giulietta. At €19,995 for the entry-level 1.4 TB 120hp Turismo, the Giulietta is already one of the best value family cars on sale today.
 
In conclusion, Alfa Romeo Ireland would like to thank Mr. Piëch for his interest and suggests that he visit http://www.alfaromeo.ie to find his nearest dealer, request a brochure or configure the Alfa Romeo of his dreams.”

Hats off Alfa Romeo Ireland, best press release of the year! 

Your questions……answered

Posted: October 8, 2010 by smokerspack in Cocking about, Tips, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

From time to time we here at smokerspack towers we get emails, although we try to answer all of them personally there are a few that we get regularly, so here is a selection of them with our ahem…answers.
What car should I buy with 5000 Euro?
It very much depends on what you want to use the car for, if you have family or your single, between jobs or fancy some track days. Try to be more specific with your question, something like, I have five grand and no girlfriend, what car should I buy to attract the ladies? The answer to that is easy, don’t buy a car. Have a shave, loose the hoodie and get a nice suit, go out on a Saturday night and don’t buy anything illegal, then just tell the first girl you meet that you have five grand and your looking for as good time, job done.
Would you like a bigger penis in three weeks?
No, it took me 38 years to grow the one I have and I like it.
Should I get my car checked before going to the NCT?
Don’t be silly, just go do the NCT and if you fail go get what you failed on fixed and do the retest.
Why don’t you test more cars?
I only have one arse, hence I can only test one car at a time. There’s more tests coming, including a very big one.
When are you going to test a Zonda?
You show me a dealer selling a Zonda and I’ll show you a dealer that’s about to go bust. Smokerspack will test any car that’s on the road in Ireland, but alas some cars are even out of our reach, so far…
I have a warning light on the dashboard, what could it be?
There are loads of warning lights on cars, could be anything from an oil light to an engine management light, go to your dealer and ask what it is, pay the man and he’ll fix it. Or you could look in the deep hole that contains your drivers manual, there’ll be a picture of the light with an explanation of what it means. Type the explanation in an email, send it too me and I’ll explain it to you then.
How hard is it to service my own car?
That depends on the type of engine and car we are talking about. In general terms if you can take the back wheel off a racing bike with gears then you can probably service your own car. Try getting a Haynes manual.
What car would you recommend for a first time learner driver?
Simple, a 1ltr 99 Nissan Micra, you can fit 5 people in it, it can’t go very fast, you won’t care if you scratch it, cheap tax and insurance. Yes it’s a granny car but it beats walking.
I can’t afford to change my car this year, the car I’m driving needs a few jobs doing to it that I can’t afford to do that either, what should I do?
Give up drinking, go on a lean diet and start exercising, because you’ll be walking to work shortly if you don’t get your car sorted. Or you could just work harder.
How do you become a race driver?
I have no idea, why don’t you go to Mondello next time there’s a race on and ask a driver. Better still take your car on a track day and give us all a laugh.
How do manufacturers get so much horse power from small engines?
The assembly plant has a special room where all the workers stand and chant as the engines pass by, they sing to the god of horse power and lo the engines get special powers.
Who were you calling a flute in the Fiat 500 video?
James Last was passing by rather slowly on his bicycle while playing a flute, I was merely telling him to hurry up.

That’s it folks, if you have any questions you like answered, serious or not then please email submissions@smokerspack.com


First we start with VW news. The new Passat has been unvailed at the Paris motor show, now in it’s seventh generation it will arrive on our shores in December, there’s to be two diesel engines with both the 1.6TDI 105bhp and 2.0TDI 140bhp engines in VRT band A attracting only €104 annual road tax, there’s also a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine producing 122bhp with emissions of only 138g/km qualifies for VRT band B attracting only €156 annual road tax.

Looks like it’s following the Phaeton for the looks department, if the engines are as good as the sound on paper this will sell like hot cakes. no pricing yet but expect the base model to be under €25,000

Fiat is the most environmentally friendly brand in Europe

Of the ten best-selling automotive brands in Europe, Fiat Automobiles has registered the lowest average CO2 emissions for the first half of 2010, just 123.5 g/km, which represents a 4.3g/km improvement on its 2009 figure. This remarkable achievement, corroborated by JATO (a world leader in automotive advisory and research services), puts Fiat ahead of Toyota (128.0 g/km), Peugeot (132.3 g/km), Citroen (133.4 g/km), Renault (134.6 g/km), Ford (137.0 g/km), Opel/Vauxhall (141.0 g/km), Volkswagen (142.2 g/km), Audi (154.2 g/km) and BMW (154.5 g/km).

If you own a 500, 500C, Grande Punto, Punto Evo, Bravo, Qubo or the New Doblò you can download a little program that keeps an eye on your driving style, Fiat Ecodrive is a great little application that I’ve been using in the brilliant 500c that I have on test this week, you can download it from www.fiat.com/ecodrive install it and the application will tell you what to do from there, its amazing how much info the car gathers about your driving, if you follow what ecodrive says you can save fuel and CO2, its free too.

Fiat are also at the Paris motor show showing off the Giulietta . The safest compact car in the world (according to Euro NCAP, which awarded the Giulietta a score of 87/100) is fitted with a new 140hp 2.0JTDM-2 diesel engine.

The 2011 Alfa Romeo 159 will also be on display. The revised model benefits from a revamped interior and a new 136HP, 350Nm 2.0 JTDM engine with CO2 emissions of 134g/km and a combined-cycle fuel economy figure of 6.6L/100km. The benchmark 0-100km/h takes just 9.9 seconds and its top speed is 202km/h (All figures relate to the saloon model). The car on show will be a Sportwagon TI in exclusive “Rosso Competizione” livery. There’s more detail to follow on the show and Smokerspack gets to drive the Giulietta in December, expect lots of coolness.


Renault are working very hard at the moment, and it’s not just the designers, every segment of the company are pulling out all the stops to push the brand forward. This “work hard” attitude is something I admire in any business. I work hard, there have been nights when I’m still working on something at one or two AM, that’s because I love what I do. The same must apply somewhere in Renault, someone near or at the top has surrounded themselves with people who love their jobs.
The new model Megane is the result of that love of the job, I remember the concept pictures of the Megane somewhere back in 2008, they looked fantastic. Obviously the car I’m driving looks nothing like the concept but ce la ve.
The current model comes in a variety of body styles from coupe to estate (called grand)and it’s the estate version that I’m driving at the moment.
When you think estate most of you will think of big agriculture type cars, well it’s not that kind of car, it’s far cooler than that. It looks like the designers were let loose and they came up with madness, then the Euro laws got involved and out of the two a very handsome sporty estate was born.
The long bonnet reminds me somehow of my Fathers Renault 12 TL, it looks nothing like it, it just reminds me of it. Sweeping down the sides there are some interesting quirks in the creases just before you reach the most interesting wrap around rear end on any car in it’s class. The boot lid looks one piece with the rear panels, it’s not, it splits to reveal a 486 ltr boot, more about the boot goodies later.


The back seat is big and comfy, there’s loads of head and leg room. If you don’t fancy carrying three people in the back then you can always drop the centre armrest which has some nifty cup holders build in.
From the drivers seat the car feels low and sporty but very comfortable. The steering wheel is weighted nicely to top dead centre, there is only one problem in here and it’s the gear shift, it feels too clicky. The gear stick feels like it’s attached to the gearbox with some plastic left over from the dashboard. It’s only a five speed box too, and that’s a shame, the gearbox in the Fluence felt fine I don’t know why they put a different box in the Megane. Other than the shift there’s nothing wrong in the cabin, everything is where you’d expect it to be in a Renault. This being a Tom Tom edition you get lots of toys, sat nav, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth and mp3 connection are all standard. Shame there’s no USB connection in mine but I’m sure it’s an option.


Out on the road the ride is firm but responsive, for an estate there’s no sign of a bouncy rear end that you get in most of the competition. The handling is very good too, even when you push it the Megane just keeps on holding the road. The 1.5dci 86bhp engine is solid and in the Megane it seems very quiet, at motorway speeds the lack of a sixth gear starts to show through, the rev’s sit at 2800rpm at 120kph, while that’s not bad it would be a better, more economical cruiser if there was another cog to get too.
Now we have to go onto a topic that will bore some of you, the boot. For those of you who are already yawning at the thought of me talking about boot space here’s a brief version, it’s big.
For those that are still reading let me explain, you buy an estate car to gain room over the hatchback version, so the boot space is very important. Even though the rear of the car is rounded on the outside, the boot opening is square and flat floored. There’s tonnes of space for any shape item to fit in there, there are some features in the boot too. There’s a flap near the opening that you can pin up allowing the whole boot to become a sort of bin, under that flap there’s more storage for drop in items, there are shopping hooks in the back too, they are set a bit too far back but nonetheless they are useful to have in the big flat boot. With all the seats dropped it’s 1600ltrs which is a decent size for any estate.
The Grand Megane is a very capable car, it’s adaptable, spacious and very stylish, the only flaw that I can find is the gearbox, it’s just too plastic feeling and it could do with another gear, if Renault would take the gearbox from the Fluence into the Megane be as near perfect as any car can be, in fact it’s so good my other half wants one.
If you’re interested in trying a Megane for yourself then log onto http://www.Renault.ie to find your local dealer.

Prices look like this, you should get the 106bhp Tom Tom with a 6 speed box it’s worth it.

RRP Trade-in allowance Renault scrappage for cars +8years old Government scrappage for cars +10years old Version from
1.6 16V 110 ETH ROYALE ECO 170 g/km €19,690 €3,300 €1,500 €0 €14,890
1.5 dCi 86 ROYALE 118 g/km €21,100 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €14,800
1.5 dCi 86 DYNAMIQUE 118 g/km €22,500 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €16,200
1.5 dCi 86 TOMTOM ED 118 g/km €23,600 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €17,300
1.5 dCi 106 TOMTOM ED 120 g/km €24,700 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €18,400

Let me know what you think, don’t be afraid; comment below.


This is the best kept secret in the auto motive industry.
Yes, by virtue of the fact that I’m even telling you this I am, at very least, breaking some kind of official secrets act, and at worst, signing my own death warrant.
You see, secrets are kept for  two very good reasons.

  1. It’s a complete lemon and the manufacturer doesn’t want the general public to know how bad it is or
  2. It’s so good, to tell the same public would ruin its exclusiveness.
    Sorry lads, but the rest of them deserve to know the truth – and it’s amazing.
    There, I said it.
    Yes people, you see before you the words Renault and amazing in the same sentence – the world’s gone mad.
    Recently I’ve used capable, enjoyable and even Reliable with the R word, but never amazing.

Now before you start screaming for the nurse, let me explain why.

We’ve been down this road quite a few times with our Gallic friends.

Take your mind back to the Laguna II or the Megane II or indeed the last real coupe from Renault, the Fuego.

All fine to look at, but not so pleasant to drive and a maintenance nightmare as the miles creep up.
We expected the same this time round. Why wouldn’t we?

So we weren’t fooled by the drop-dead gorgeous looks, bold lines, muscular physic or the spectacular Aston Martin-ish rear end complete with massive twin chrome exhausts.
Inside it just gety better, wall-to-wall leather, Audi TT-style steering, bucket seats, Bose sound system and Bluetooth hands free phone.

Couple that with the superior build quality you’d only find in super executive saloons that only a NASA engineer could tell it wasn’t German and you’re on a winner.
The boys over at BMW, Audi and Merc won’t like this one little bit, but the French outfit have really lifted their game here and the feel of a cabin is one of the greatest influences on buyers – especially women.

And this car has successful career woman written all over it.

The old adage ‘Men are from Mars’ is probably the greatest example of this argument as the fairer sex couldn’t care less about bhp, ABS, ESP, torque or transmission.

No, it’s far more scientific thatn that – if they like it, they’ll buy it.
That’s far to sensible for us men to get our little heads around, besides what would the lads down the boozer say?

Anyway its time for me to get all manly again with the most pertinent question – How does it drive?

Supurbly. The 180bhp GT version I tested had the full package – instant and endless poke, refined handling and as agile as a Romanian gymnast.

This is where Renault reveal their hand, their secret weapon called 4 Control Chassis.

For all you Grease Monkeys out there, here’s how it works.

At speeds of less than 60kmh the system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front, up to an angle of 3.5 degrees making parking and manoeuvring easier.

It’s also very frugal, returning a whopping 43mpg on long journeys.

That’s another major plus here – it handles like a true coupe  but has the comfort of a saloon.

Take the Mazda RX-8 – absolutely mental to drive, a laugh a minute …. but an hour on the motorway will soon wipe the smile off your face.

Not here though. This slick oil burner will devour mile after mile with absolute ease.

So it’s pretty much flawless?

Well, not quite.

For starters I’ve never been mad about the keyless entry card thing.

If scientists develop a keyless front door then maybe they are onto something otherwise you still have to lump keys around with you.

Anyway, the two biggest chinks in the armour are firstly it’s a Renault and changing a minor fault is a lot easier than changing a mind set.

The second and more importantly is the price at €47,300  (official list price).

It’s rivals, namely the Audi TT and the BMW 320D coupe which are cheaper.

That said, one real advantage it does have is its exclusiveness – the TT has been around forever and the BMW is a common enough sight on Irish roads.

It still gets my vote for sheer sexiness, fun and daring to be different.

A Dita Von Tease in a sea of blonde bimbos if you like!

Phil Hedderman


Kia motors have announced the prices and specs of the latest version of the Sportage. There are to be 3 models of the car which will be on offer late 2010 and early 2011, prices start with the €27,800 1.7D EX model, it develops 115bhp and is B rated for tax. 17” alloys, half leather, Bluetooth and a panoramic sunroof,

A step up from that is the GSE priced at €29,995 that gets you heated seats and full leather along with Xenon lights and climate control.

The first edition you’ll see in October is the 2.0D 136hp all wheel drive model priced at €31,495 features 18” alloy wheels an ECM rear view mirror with colour camera in its standard equipment. Of course there’s a 7 year warranty on the Sportage which puts them way ahead of the competition.

Citroen have been tinkering with their engines and have managed to drop the CO2 emmissions for the C4 Picasso , Grand C4 Picasso and C5 models it breaks down like this:

Engine C4 Picasso & Grand C4 Picasso

1.6HDi 110hp DPFS

C4 Picasso & Grand C4 Picasso

1.6HDi 110hp DPFS EGS

Urban Cycle 6.7 (42.2mpg) 6.2 (45.6mpg)
Extra Urban 4.5 (62.8mpg) 4.4 (64.2mpg)
Combined 5.3 (53.3mpg) 5.1 (55.4mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 140 (Previously 145) 135 (Previously 140)
Engine C5 1.6HDi 110hp

(Saloon and Tourer)

Urban Cycle 6.4 (44.1mpg)
Extra Urban 4.2 (67.3mpg)
Combined 5.0 (56.5mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 130 (Previously 140)
Engine C5 2.0HDi 160hp SALOON C5 2.0HDi 160hp TOURER
Urban Cycle 6.8 (41.5mpg) 6.8 (41.5mpg)
Extra Urban 4.4 (64.2mpg) 4.4 (64.2mpg)
Combined 5.3 (53.3mpg) 5.3 (53.3mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 139 (Previously 147) 139 (Previously 149)

It’s good news as it shifts some of the cars into a lower tax band, you can check the tax rates here https://www.motortax.ie/OMT/pdf/co2_emissions_rates_2009_en.pdf


An animated demonstration of the unique Wankel...

Image via Wikipedia

The Romper 1958

Did you know that when Mazda was founded it was called Toyo Cork Kogyo Co, and that it made cork-based products, it wasn’t until 1931 that a little 3 wheeled truck rolled off the production line in Hiroshima?

Mazda in one form or another has been around longer than television, hearing aids, Aerosol sprays and even the Iron Lung, during the 1920’s Henry Ford perfected mass production and thereby managed to sell some 15 million Model-T’s. The illegal bars called “Speak easiest” were big in America along with Al Capone, and in 1927 the world’s first talking pictures were shown to an amazed audience.

In 1945 an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, ending World War II, Mazda donated part of its headquarters to the Hiroshima prefecture to help get over this mass extermination of human life.

In 1958 Mazda introduced the Mazda Romper, a 4-wheel light truck. 1960 Mazda brings out its first 2 door passenger car called the R360 Coupe (not a very catchy name), 1961 Mazda buys the patent for an alternative engine concept invented by German Felix Wankel: this engine uses combustion to spin a flat disc, rather than move a piston up and down, not until 1967 did Mazda develop the Wankel concept into a valid alternative engine and launches its first rotary-engine car, the Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S.

In 1977 the Mazda Familia/323 launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, in 1979 Ford and Mazda enter into, what Mazda call, a capital tie up.

In 1980 Mazda launches front-wheel drive (FWD) Familia/323 in 1980. It wins Japanese Car of the Year and in ’84 Company is officially renamed as Mazda Motor Corporation.

The 90’s brought us the now iconic MX 5 and the first official imported Mazda MX-5s are delivered to private customers in Europe. Mazda 787B No.55 wins the Le Mans 24-Hour Endurance Race claiming the first victory for a Japanese automobile and the rotary engine in ’91.

2002 brought us the Zoom-Zoom message, in the same decade we started to see the Mazda 6, 2004 and the 700,000th MX 5 rolls off the production line in Hiroshima.

In 2008 the Mazda 2 wins car of the year, and we get to see the next generation of the Mazda 3. Launch of Mazda’s unique i-stop system (on Mazda3) that uses the engine’s remaining combustion energy to restart twice as fast as competitor systems in 2009.

Presentation of the Sky Concept, next-generation power trains in 2009 as well with global roll-out starting in 2011 that use 15 to 20% less fuel at the same levels of driving fun Mazda is known for.

Mazda has seen it all, I’ll never forget the desire I had for the 323F as a young man, I always wanted one, and I even had a poster of it on my wall. The RX7 and RX8 are both still cars I’d love to own, I’d even get to say Wankel.

For me the crowning glory of the Mazda range has always been the MX5, no other car goes like it, or drives quite the same. It’s a car that can put a smile on your face every time you turn the key, hard top, soft top; flip up lights it’s had everything. There’s still many of the older models on the road today and tonnes of spare parts, you should have a go in one, even the basic ones are a hoot to drive.

Mazda continue to bring us alternative looking cars to the boring looking Euro-boxes, I mean look at the current line up that Mazda have, somewhere between a Manga cartoon and Transformers, while still being solid and reliable.

Happy Birthday Mazda, lets hope you keep giving us the Zoom-Zoom factor.

For more information on the current line up have a look at www.mazda.ie


Renault S.A. Logo

Image via Wikipedia

I wanted to find out if you can really achieve the figures that car makers put out with every new car, so I put one maker to the test, Renault…..


Let me start off by saying, this is not a how too guide, there are plenty of them on the web as it is. This article is about finding out if it’s worth looking in the UK for a used car, and will it really save you any money.

There’s a lot of anecdotal information floating around about people who saved thousands by going to the UK and getting the car they wanted (with a higher spec in some cases) and bringing it back to Ireland. A number of years ago there were loads of Japanese imports on the forecourts of every small dealer in the country, huge container loads of them came out of Japan bound for our shores, but Ireland fell out of love with imports, some were hard to get parts for, and European manufacturers were turning out both reliable and stylish cars. Ireland started to get more money and we got a thirst for that golden word in cars, status. Once Irish people started going to the UK and Northern Ireland to buy their cars our fate was sealed, the Government moved to protect what was a huge income for the State, car sales. Vehicle registration tax (VRT) was introduced, which is a tax that completely goes against all of the core values of the open market that we all bought into when we joined the EU in the first place. The Irish Government was very smart though, the VRT is not applied directly to the car, and instead it’s applied to getting an Irish registration plate. VRT is a complicated tax and since 2008 it’s based on the Co2 emissions of the car, previous to that it was based on the open market selling price of your chosen car in Ireland. If the car you want is from 2007 or before it’s impossible to say what the VRT is going to be it depends on market values, engine size, year, model and roadworthiness condition of the vehicle.

Knowing all this, I gave myself a budget of €22,000 to track down a car in the UK and price it against its Irish counterpart. That’s about £18,500 according to www.xe.com, your bank will give you a different rate on the day you change your money so be aware that you can only use today’s exchange rate as a guideline.

With my budget I selected a BMW 520d SE automatic 2007, might as well get something nice.

Here are the two cars:

http://tiny.cc/2ickf

http://tiny.cc/1cvh3

The spec seems to be about the same, the Irish one has little fewer miles, now on with the money bit.

The UK one is £12,481 which is €14,800, I need to budget about €1000 euro for flights, boat, inspection, lunch, diesel and other sundries. That means €15,800 which is under budget so far, but the big one is the VRT when I return. Pending an inspection the VRT on the BMW is €5198, so that’s a grand total of €20,998 and presuming I don’t have to do any mechanical repairs to the car that beats the Irish price by €4992! So why don’t we all run over to the UK to buy our cars then?

The variables are the problem, the exchange rate you see above is the current one, but the price you get from your bank might be wildly different. The prices of the cars I’m using are the full quoted price, if you walk into any dealer in Ireland with €22,000 in your pocket and no trade in the price becomes negotiable. The warranty on your car is in Ireland and covered by Irish law.

All the problems aside there is some value in the UK/NI market, but you need to be aware of the problems, below is a list of advice if you intend to import your own car from the UK.

  1. Get your facts right. Check the prices in Ireland and UK for your chosen car.
  2. Factor in VRT and travel expenses to the budget, don’t forget emergency funds in case you miss the ferry and have to stay somewhere.
  3. The VRT to pay is variable, which means it might go up or down from when you use the web site. If you select the BMW SE model and you bring back an M-Sport model the price will almost certainly go up. Don’t make mistakes it might cost you thousands.
  4. Talk to your Irish dealer first. It might seem stupid but you never know what kind of deal you could strike if you just ask; it will only cost the price of a phone call.
  5. Only use a big dealer in the UK, you don’t want to be wandering around some housing estate looking for someone selling a car, most main dealers will pick you up at the airport if you ask.
  6. Get your checks done before you go. Motorcheck.ie can check the UK cars history for €35, whoever you use just do it.
  7. Get the RAC/AA to check over the car before any money changes hands, don’t bring someone who “knows” about cars, don’t “use the force” or chant something, just get someone independent to do the check.
  8. Test drive the car, a nice 20 minutes can tell you loads, make sure everything works, press every button in the car.
  9. Know the price before you go. Don’t wander around with a pocket full of cash, pay a small deposit with a credit card (refundable) and use a bank draft for the balance. Ask about a service and a full tank of fuel, get something for free.
  10. Give yourself plenty of time. You don’t want to pick up a load of speeding tickets on your way to the ferry.
  11. Don’t forget insurance, get it transferred to the new car for the drive back.

It’s not all that hard to import a car, and if you look hard you’ll find the car you’re looking for. If the VRT wasn’t there we would all be driving cheaper cars that would have the same spec as the UK models but, alas its going to be with us in one form or another for the foreseeable future, they might change it to some sort of environmental tax but there’s no sign of our greedy little island ever giving an even playing field when it comes to the free movement of goods in the EU.

Both the dealers and the cars were chosen at random, I cannot recommend either the dealers or the cars I’ve chosen for the examples above as I don’t know them. Do your own research on the best dealers to use but as always, shop local but shop smart.

Links:

http://www.autotrader.co.uk (Need a postcode? BT11AA should work)

https://www.ros.ie/VRTEnquiryServlet/showCarCalculator

http://www.xe.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Freedoms_(European_Union) (really worth a read)

http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=176389 It’s old now but still worth a read

Questions or comments to submissions@smokerspack.com


So you’ve saved your pennies, you’ve done your research, you’ve read the reviews and now your ready to start looking at second hand cars. Don’t rush in, don’t buy on the spur of the moment, you could save thousands by reading through this list of tips.

I am in and out of used cars all the time, there is rarely a day that I’m not driving some sort of car from bangers to luxury models, so here’s my list of top things to do when you decide to buy that perfect used car. Presuming you’ve settled on a car you like, you have cash in your pocket what should you do now?

  1. Before you spend any money, use your eyes. If the car has 50,000 miles on the clock then there should be very little ware on the surfaces. Look at the drivers’ seat for signs of fraying/tearing, check the steering wheel and pedals for the same. Look at the shut lines, with the doors closed all the gaps between panels should be even. Look down the side of the car; it should be in a straight line, if it’s not then it may have been crashed.
  2. Does everything work? If there’s a button on the dash press it, make sure it’s all working, the same for electric windows/seats, everything in the car should be working. You would be surprised how many people buy a car and only on the way home do they find out the radio isn’t working!
  3. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking at, look under the bonnet, it should be reasonably clean, no oil spills anywhere.
  4. Test Drive! Don’t be worried about going on a long test, pick a test route that encompasses main roads, motorways and if possible some bumpy bits too. Listen for strange noises from around the car, rattles can usually be fixed but bangs and shakes can be a symptom of something much more sinister.
  5. Even if all the above goes well don’t buy the first car you see, it may be the car you’ve been after but as the saying goes “buy in haste, repent at your leisure”. Take your time, the only one putting you under pressure to buy now is you, go away and think about it.
  6. Take the registration plate, the mileage and get a history check done. Someone like Motorcheck.ie will be able to help you with everything; €35 for a full check is small money to pay to know the cars details.
  7. How much is your insurance and road tax going to be? Can you even get insured on the car? If you’re 19 and looking to buy an Evo 8 then you might have trouble getting insured, the dealer won’t refund your money just because you can’t get insurance.
  8. Get a mechanical inspection done, you can get this done through the AA or you can use a local mechanic. Prices vary for this service but you’ll get what you pay for. Don’t rely on someone who “knows stuff” about cars, get it done properly it could save you thousands in the long run.
  9. Use the internet, trawl through the forums to see if there’s any information about the car you’re buying. Boards.ie has a very busy motors section where you can ask users what they think about the car and its known problems.
  10. Once all the above is good now is the time to talk to the sales man. If you are trading a car the only price that matters is the cost to change, that’s the price difference between the car you’re trading and the one you’re buying, get ready to haggle that price, every penny you save is worth haggling over. Try asking for extras like floor mats or free 1st service, you never know until you ask.
  11. Talk about warranty, how long is it and what does it cover. Some warranties will only cover the engine and gearbox, others will cover mechanical faults. None of them will cover wear and tear items like wipers or tyres. It’s very important you get this information in writing as a verbal agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
  12. If you’re still not happy with something then walk away, there’s plenty more cars out there for sale.

If you follow all the above you should get a decent reliable car, but use your head and remember drive as many cars as you can before you decide what to buy.

Next time I’ll talk about importing your own car from the UK, and if it’s really worth the hassle.