I want a car about the size of a Ford Focus or a bit smaller. It's
been very many years since I did any driving and I've completely
lost touch with what models are available.
Is there a chart or page which groups manufacturers' models by
category (small family, subcompact, etc) so I can draw up a
Right now, so many cars look the same to me and few look familiar.
Yes there is a lot of choice. Without knowing anything about anything,
I think Seat or Skoda offer good value as they are based on VW
underpinnings. However, once deciding on the manufacturer, then there
are numerous other decisions: Petrol or diesels. Hatch, estate or SUV
derivative. Most of the pain of new car ownership is shabby quality
control and the problems which comes with that.
What is used reliability like? This site suggests new models (which
I'm not in the market for) have slightly lower than average
reliability. which is not encouraging.
On the other hand.......
Review 1: "I absolutely love this car."
Review 2: "Without doubt one of the worst cars I have ever owned.
Without doubt one of the worst set of car dealerships and customer
services I've ever dealt with. "
This isn't going to be easy for me, is it? I'm wilting before I've
The mark one Focus, discontinued in 2004 so too old for your budget, beats
just about everything else in its class, including so-called 'prestige'
marques, for reliability, and that was confirmed by surveys in Germany.
The later Focus is still a very good car, although a bit larger.
If I were only to be driving 4,000 miles a years, I would buy the best mark
one Focus I could find. I would look for a Ghia with a 1.8 engine. I would
look to spend a maximum of 1,000UKP, and put the rest towards running costs.
Disclaimer: I bought a new Focus in 1999, then replaced it after ten years
with a 2003 which I still have. I keep looking to see if I should replace
it, but it just keeps going. (I only do about 5,000 miles a year.) I still
love driving it, and even new cars don't seem any better to drive.
Averaged over those 17 years, I haven't spent 100UKP a year on non-
They are the best cars by far that I have owned in 52 years.
I was more aware of car models back in 2004 when you say the Mk1
Focus was discontinued. I remember the Focus was very well
regarded. But isn't such an old car (12 years plus) a bit long in
the tooth and major parts will start wearing out?
The ?1000 price tag looks very affordable (it would bring a smile
to my bank manager's face) but can such an old car really be
(looks outside at X reg Citroen with 218k on the clock...)
Most of the cars I see broken down by the side of the road are younger
than ours. And I drive a car which many people would run away screaming
from as the absolute pit of unreliability - they're wrong, but it does
make them cheaper to buy for me :-)
The P and R reg Corollas I know were still running well - well, until
the P reg one met the back of another car on the motorway. They seemed
pretty idiot proof.
The Toyotas my MIL and FIL drove/drive also seem very reliable. The
Starlet was retired at something over 200K miles - we have yet to see if
the replacement Fiesta will do as well.
The late 90s Ibiza a friend drives just got its MOT with no problems.
Basically cars are just a lot better than they used to be. Chris swears
by his Focus - but all cars have improved in reliability in the same way
in that time. Consider how car engines used to be - the engine bay would
be this black oily hellhole. These days they're surprisingly clean. And
the bodywork doesn't fall apart in the same way things from before the
It is of course all a risk. If your life or job depends on absolutely
100% reliability, I'd not necessarily get something that old. But very
few people are in that situation, and there are other things you can do
to mitigate the risk - eg membership of a suitable recovery operation
who will help you hire a car if it all goes T/U.
(note also reliabilty is a feature of you too - the reliability of the
abovermentioned Corolla was no longer useful after it had been crashed...)
It's a very different matter running a well maintained older car you've
had for ages and is worth very little, from expecting to being able to go
out and buy a decent one the same for that price.
The vast majority of bangers are sold because they are simply getting too
old and costly to keep running. And usually because very expensive repairs
*Forget the Joneses, I keep us up with the Simpsons.
Dave Plowman firstname.lastname@example.org London SW
Yeah. I run a 1995 Saab 9000 2.3 full turbo auto, over 20k miles a year.
Car is smooth, fast and quiet on motorway; you get the feeling
this is how good cars should be made. Kick down with APC is mind blowing
fast. I do simple servicing myself, otherwise use a good independent if
something crops up. The trick is not to let anything fester, or it will
be much more expensive to repair. This is my second 9000, the first I
was sad to sell at 280k miles, it was still running fine.
Mine is 16 and a bit and perfectly reliable, when needed, parts are
cheap and widely available, everything still works as it should, it was
written off last year due to superficial damage, but it can carry on
indefinitely as far as I am concerned.
My 15 year old Mk1 Ford Focus is still going strong and I consider the
600 mile round trip I will be doing in the next couple of weeks a very
low risk for unreliability.
In the 13 years I've owned the car I've had a few annoying problems but
generally its been very reliable. I have spent an average £200 per annum
on maintenance/repairs. DIY for oil and fluid changes, filters, wiper
blades, lights and brakes. Non-dealership garage for exhaust manifold,
clutch, belts and fuel pump. Mid range tyres (Firestone/Dunlop) at £50.
First sign of superficial rust spotted this year (limited to a few
inches at the bottom inner of one door) and treated with phosphoric
acid, re-sealed and repainted.
I have driven later model Focuses as hire cars and I prefer the interior
of the older Mk1 but the later models have been Ok with respect to
driveability - much surer handling than some of the recent French
branded cars that I've had on hire. I prefer petrol models rather than
diesel but perhaps that's more to do with I'm used to driving.
I think I have to be careful in such a group as this about what I
mean by reliability.
A very long time ago I used to have a "reliable" car but it was
only reliable because as soon as a tiny problem reared its head it
got investigated and fixed. That car got regular maintenance and
even more frequent check-overs just to make sure all was well.
Anything looking worn got vchanged well in advance of failure.
The trouble was that this was a lot of work and, yes, it never
broke down on the road but it did need a lot of parts replacing
and things fixing.
On the other hand there's reliablity which doesn't need frequent
checks or preventative repairs etc. A friend had an old Mazda
from new and never had it serviced or ever did anything to it
except oil and petrol and he says it ran without problems up to
120,000 miles. That's an extreme example of the other sort of
There's high-maintainance reliability and then there's low-
maintainance reliability. Maybe you're talking of the first type
and I'm thinking of the second type. I need to be careful about
how much car-care anyone considers normal and make sure I see it
the same way.
we have had a Peugeot 306 1.9D for 17 years now on 198K miles and is used
every day for local deliveries
the only non service/consumable item that’s had to be replaced is the front
brake flex pipes.
ok and the radio stopped working some 12 years ago :(
yes i know the mileage is not exceptional but its a 20 year old French car
which dont have the greatest reliability record, probably helped by not
having any electronics at all like elec windows cent locking,
it does have a digital clock which is still working it just that you can no
longer change the time :(
and its still completely rust free as well
which is something else you cant say about many cars of that price and age
oddly enough, my sister also had a peugeot 306 with the same lump, it
was extremely reliable and cheap to run. Apart from crash damage and
electric window failure it was bullet proof, her clarion radio also went
on the blink! The car was only replaced as my sister was getting older
and found the clutch was a bit too heavy for her, so she bought an auto
C3 from a friend, it has cost more in a couple of years use than the 306
did in 15. The most recent insult being 700 quid on solenoid
replacement on the auto box at 5 years old and 25k miles.
The fuel economy is also pants at about 30mpg compared with the 306 50+mpg.
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