Bitterwallet editor needs a car. Can you help?

23 February 2009

Right then – in a bid to single-handedly kick start the global economy, I’m looking to buy a used car in the very near future. Nothing fancy, something like a Citroen Xsara Picasso for about £4k.

Which is where you lovely, clever lot come in. I need you to bombard me with hints and tips to help me get as much bang for my buck as I possibly can; any advice that might help me steal a march towards getting the best deal out there.

Ultimately, we’lll combine our knowledge into the ultimate used car-buying guide, and help thousands of BW readers save money themselves. But in the short term you’ll be helping me. So come on… share your wisdom and spread some love! VROOOOOOMMM!!


  • john d.
  • The B.
    You want to buy a Citreon? Why on earth..... never mind.
  • Nobby S.
    What a load of old tosh.. slow news day?
  • Laltufan
    If it was upto the wife - she would sell you ours.... But mine is: Diesel (very good - mpg) and Cheap road tax (I would recommend) Only faults are other drives..... (someone nicked my wheel trims) bumped side of car and drove off (wheel arch) and some bloke wired my towbar up incorrectly (Blew part of the computer) - Very expensive to replace. I still think its a great car even with these faults (gives it character....) Oh. and rear view mirror fell off last week (but I have now stuck it back on)
  • SimbaK2K
    If you needed to help the economy you'd buy a new car, don't be so tight. Gordon needs his tax too remember. P.S On the subject of money saving, why buy something so big?!
  • Chris H.
    Theres an amazing website which allows you to search for a specific make/model of car and set a price limit, using that you could probably find yourself the exact car you're asking for, for the budget you have. I can understand you not knowing about the site, very few people do. Heres a link.
  • juankerr
    Advice..erm Don't buy a french car cos they are made of le chocolate? I should know, I've owned plenty before I learned my lesson.
  • Andy D.
    OK kids, that's all super. Well, apart from the comments that were utter shite. The make and model of the car is irrelevant here. What we're trying to do is compile another of our regular money-saving guides, like the recent one about getting cheap gym access. Instead of having one of us bang away at Google for ideas, we thought we'd open the forum up to you, our beloved readers, our community, to see if you had any inside info on how to squeeze the pips out of the average used car dealer. When it's all over and we've mopped up the blood, we'll condense the best ideas into a follow-up feature. M'kay? Perhaps I should have written the original feature like an exam question - it might have made more sense. Ah well, here goes... (i) Andrew's car has broken down. He needs to buy a new one but he only has £4,000. The car he likes best costs £5,000. Andrew lives 12 miles away from the car he likes but he has to jog to get to see it. For the first mile he jogs at 10mph, his speed decreasing at a rate of 2mph every 3 miles. If he sets off at 10am, what time will Johnny get to look at the car and how much will it have depreciated by the time he arrives? (ii) Who the freak is Johnny? How's that?
  • bob
    Ebay as a last resort, lol.
  • andy y.
    Do not refer to the seller as a 'retard'
  • the2ocan
    When buying my car I watched loadsa cars near me that local dealers were advertising as classifieds. Then after about 3-4 months when I was ready to buy I targeted the cars that had been on there the whole time (knowing the dealer would want to get rid of them). In the end I picked a car which I knew wasn't a very popular colour but was a special edition so had loadsa extra spec. Then proceeded to tell the salesman how much I hate the colour and how he'll struggle to sell it then told him what I could afford (about a thousand less) he ummmed and arrr'ed for ages had words with various managers, showed me the value of it on their stock file....but eventually he gave up and I got a bargain. So my tips: Target cars they've had for ages, tell them how carp the car is.....then offer to take it off their hands.
  • chris c.
    Hi there I got Citroen Berlingo Multispace, great car, I'm selling mines, brought it when i was getting married and going to become a step father, 5 seats, rears fold down, so it a car that looks like a van, but also its 5 seat still classed as a car!!!. Any further details contact me. Chris
  • Robin
    With more and more people up s**t creek with no paddle, you may be able to pick up some super bargains at car auctions. Particuarly so if you are not too specific in what you're looking for. You can easily find an auction event near you using everyone's favorite search engine. Give them a call if they don't have a website showing auction times and what type cars they will have on the day. You can also find out whether there are any that do not have reserve prices but beware that quite often these are the ones that are not taxed or MOT'd etc. Go along to a couple of auctions without buying anything to get the gist of it and find out what extras you will have to pay ontop of the actual selling price (a buyers fee or auctioneers fee, and VAT too probably). Then chose a day, get a maximum amount in your head and bid up to it. If the car doesn't sell because it hasn't reached it's reserve, ask to be put in contact with the seller directly and perhaps you can negotiate. By the way, the answer to your questions are: (i) 1 hour 55 minutes and 30 seconds. All of it. (ii) Johnny is the guy who robbed your cash whilst you jogged to see the car.
  • Mike
    The best user guide for buying a car is on but here are some personal tips: -always do your homeworks on a car before you go to see it, look at who else is selling similiar cars and at what price, -make sure you know what you are looking for when you see the car, i.e. the problems that others have experienced, so if others have experienced gearbox faults with the same car have a flick through its history to see what work has been done, -and on the subject of history check it has been regularly serviced and cared for, you can also check this by checking whether the bodywork is in good condition, do all the panels line up? if not then it could have been in an accident, -poking around the engine bay is also a gfood idea, check the battery fittings for corrosion, check the oil, if it is good clean oil then this is always a good sign. -The interior is another useful place to look when assesing a car, is it a comfortable place to be? how worn is it? are the seats in good condition, a well cared for car will not look tatty on the inside. -and finally when haggling don't completely shred the car because this is an obvious tactic, umm and arr over whether its worth the extra cash over certain other cars(that arent quite as good) you have driven that are being offered with very good deals. Hope this helps.
  • Benjiman
    Tip 1: Don't EVER buy from a 2nd hand car dealer - they are the lowest of the low, especially CarShaft. Sorry Carcraft. Buy private to save loadsa £££. Tip 2: Get the local free-ads paper out (ours it Trade-it) and don't be afraid to make some calls. Usually a lot cheaper than ebay. Tip 3: Don't blind bid on ebay - ALWAYS see & drive the motor first. Happy Shopping!
    Stuff... 1. Do your research on price (autotrader, parkers, ebay. local paper) and also on the specific car that you want 2. Don't buy french or italian cars (Look at projected residual values, German cars usually provide better valuer cost per mile because of this.) 3. Car auctions are good fun, but not always best value 4. Despite the advice to buy an unpopular car in a crap colour to get a bargain, you need to factor in will be just as unpopular when you come to sell it!
  • Alistair
    Research is always where I start. There are a huge amount of websites out there that have top 100 or top 10 car's to buy and not buy. As a general rule don't buy a French made car, I've never personally had one but I know enough people that have and there is no doubt that they seem to 'break' more often. Again the French manufacturers are always towards the bottom of the list in the would you buy again type surveys. I'm sure there will be Francophiles that will tell you that their Rengeot Cl05 is the best thing ever but historically they are slated in long term owner reviews. Japanese and German manufacturers are always high ranking but I'm sure they must put out the odd pup too. I've had Japanese for the last 10 years and can't see myself buying anything else. If the make of your car isn't important look towards the less fashionable manufacturers Skoda, Kia, Hyundai etc. Some of these get fabulous reviews but are always slightly cheaper second hand than the big brands. Look for auctions at companies that have gone under, these type of auctions can bring some fabulous bargains, I recently saw a 3 year old family sized car go for £3k, I did offer to get it for the wife but she didn't like the colour!?!?!?! Also look out for new models that have been released by the big manufacturers. Vauxhall's new Insignia has made the price of the Vectra go through the floor, year old decent spec Vectras can now be had for £7k. I reckon with the economy as it is now is the time to buy a car at the money you are talking, good luck with it.
  • Rob
    Another site to look through for the second-hand buyer is Honest John, which is slightly chaotic and rambling, but generally gives a good summary of overall reliability, any faults common to that model so you know what to check when you're buying, and a list of recalls. Here's the page for that Citroen as an example.
  • Rebel S.
    Depending how long you want to keep the thing, I found Private Contract Hire worked better than buying 2nd hand for me. e.g. if you reckon your 2nd hand car should last you about 2 years, £4k = £167pm. If you budget in tax, servicing, MOT's etc then you're probably looking at £200pm. Go to and you'll find plenty of NEW cars that cost you £200pm over 2 years that include warranty, no MOT, no tax etc. Of course there's disadvantages. But a 2nd hand car is a money pit anyway, so much better to own a new car for the same amount I reckon. I've got a brand new Grand Picasso for the just a little more as I was making on the loan repayments for my 2000 plate Focus Estate.
  • dunfyboy
    I've got a Citreon. It's a great car to drive but it has it's faults. The engine management light comes on, the windows have stopped working and the rear demister switch locks the doors for some reason. Of course. like all french cars, the airbag warning light comes on whenever it likes. So in summary, buy a German or Japanese car :)
  • -=Mike H.
    Andrew, you could start by NOT getting a crappy Citroen Xsara Picasso FFS, if you need a people carrier, a wise investment would be to sell the kids, sorted, and no need to thank me for the advice ;)
  • Ducky
    I'm sure I saw an article with some good advice somewhere. Let me find it... Ah, here is is:
  • Will
    What a load of bollocks this website has been lately. I'm amazed it's managing to keep its affiliation with HUKD. It seems to have lost its way.
  • Me A.
    Whoever said 'buy private to save ££££' may not have realised that there is a recession going on. People who own cars, can afford to hang on to them as long as they need (generally speaking), until the right person comes along to buy it. Mister car salesman, has to sell cars to make money (obviously), and needs sales as soon as possible and will bite your arm off if you so much as glance at a car on his forecourt. Which one is more desperate? The car owner in no rush, or car dealer who needs to get some cash asap? Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but buying private isn't always the best option in times like these. I went to a dealer in October 2008 and picked up a 2007 Focus with touch-screen satnav built-in, bluetooth, heated leather seats etc, and it was £4000 cheaper than the best equivalent in a private sale on Auto-trader.
  • Phillip
    Was very happy to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I clearly enjoying every little bit of it and I have bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
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