How not to buy a second hand car in Ireland

Registering the Peugeot in Ireland would have drawn the Vehicle Registration Tax, (VRT) which excessively amounts to a 1/3 of a vehicle’s value (as estimated by the Irish Revenue and Customs). On top of that, annual Irish motor tax is pretty expensive too (around €500 for the 1.4 206!).

So, following the 206’s tour of southwest Ireland, she embarked on her new mission to carry and keep safe another new driver.

This left us with the mission of buying a car in Ireland.

We wanted a convertible for our road trip across Europe but didn’t know which one. We were torn between getting a car that would stand the test and would hold its value and something which would make the drive fun but if it broke down wouldn’t leave us with an economic headache.

Buying a used car in Dublin turned out to be the headache! We had a great time travelling across the city to test ‘drive’ cars and teamed visiting garages with exploring a new area but the long and short of it was that after 3 weeks of searching we never bought a car.

The MGF was the front-runner as it was quite well priced so we decided to go and test drive one in west Dublin. Despite having made an appointment to test drive the car we discovered when we arrived that there was no battery in the car, the tires were bald and it did not have either NCT(MOT) or tax! The dealer, who if you’re trying to visualise him could best be described as the lovechild of Del Boy and Brad Pitt’s character from Snatch, still thought that we should come back the next day and he’ll “put a battery in it and you can take it up and down the M50 but don’t let the Garda stop you”. He wouldn’t drop the price at all and could guarantee it would pass the NCT but he wouldn’t put it through. The guy was a nightmare.

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Undeterred we carried on our search. Finding a very disposable green VW golf convertible down an alleyway on a housing estate. The ‘dealer’ just let us wander in off the street and take the car for a test drive, again the car was not tax or NCTed and he didn’t even ask for our licence or any collateral before we drove it off. We soon realised why: he was probably hoping we steal it so he could get the money back off his insurers because that was the only way he would be getting any return on that car. The clutch was shot, the engine ticked and the speedo and rev counter didn’t work!

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At this point we thought maybe buying at the low end of the market here was just too much of a gamble. So we looked at a couple of mini convertibles. They’d hold their value if we were to resell them and we finally found a silver mini in a garage that was offering to fix any defects (rusted exhaust, bodywork scratches) before sale. We found the cheapest mini on the market to test drive and J didn’t like it all saying that the handling was rubbish (no power steering), you couldn’t see out of the back and there was no room in the boot for a suitcase.

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J had always liked the Z3, so seeing as there was one near Phoenix Park we decided to go see it. The dealer seemed nicer but the Z3’s breaks were locked on the wheel. J was nevertheless taken for a very short test drive and although he really enjoyed the experience he realised that the bonnet was too long so that on a roadtrip half of your landscape would always be the car!



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So we returned to square 1: the MGF, which J had sat in on the first day and was still comparing everything against. Scouring the market for the cheapest but drivable option we found another MGF which this time he could test drive. Having driven it he was ecstatic, I mean, he had to keep it reved at all times to avoid the battery dying, the roof couldn’t be unfolded, the clutch was rock hard and “don’t go over third”. This aside I think J knew that the MGF was going to be the car but was it going to be this car. Negotiations began, the dealer happy to fix these problems but not drop the price or NCT it despite him having claimed to be happy to do so on the phone before we went. He also claimed he had just got it and would be selling soon anyway but as you can see in the photos many of his cars had been there for years and weren’t going anywhere. In fact, looking in the glovebox we found paperwork that showed he owned the car for 4 years! With all the problems that needed fixing and his dishonesty no money was going to be parted with!

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To the question can you/should you buy a used car in Ireland our experience led to a thoroughly tested no. In any case, fate it would seem had other car plans for us and my amazing Dad went to pick up our MGF bought in the UK (let’s not mention the breakdown) and the roadtrip could begin.


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