Tag Archives: buying a used car

Audis I have known and loved

I’ve driven two Audis to date, an Audi 80 in the 80s and a very stylish S2 coupe in the early 90s when my corporate career justified this. And I continue to very nearly buy an Audi TT and I probably will one day.

So you can see I have a soft spot for the brand and know from past experience that Audis make ideal company cars.

Particularly for high mileage female business executives looking for that all important combination of safety, economy and motoring style as they ply our busy motorways today.

The best Audi engines are usually diesels where high mileage is involved and whilst the SE trim is likely to be more saleable than the basic entry level I can’t really justify spending more than that (for me) unless you need 4 wheel drive of course. I mention this because there are some 47 models, including saloon/hatchback/estate and cabriolet variations of which 21 were petrol and 26 diesel when I last looked…

Yes it’s true that you may have to pay extra for cruise control (if you insist…) but you do get 6 airbags and stability control as standard features and the interior is stylish and uber-comfortable as you might expect from a manufacturer from the Volkswagen stable of car manufacturers.

Looking at other car review websites I see that an ancient evecars.com mention picks up on ‘fiddly buttons to navigate’ and ‘watch out for the bumpy ride’ on their negative list but that JD Power’s most recent survey points out its low depreciation (which is good news when you come to sell or trade it in), a bigger than average boot and impressive running costs to balance the debate.

Either way, we’d happily recommend Audi’s A4 to women drivers for business use in particular, pointing out the reasonable 13% benefits in kind employee contribution tax involved.


Inevitably this is a brief and not very comprehensive review of the Audi A4. Being a naturally foxy lady you will do your own and very detailed new car shopping homework well in advance to determine the practicality and required features for your next new car.

If you’d welcome a second and independent opinion of your shortlist, where to go to buy it, or some handholding through the entire car buying process, why not join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to benefit from our motoring support services and some helpful female feedback here?

The used car shopping game

Most women know there is a 50% chance of buying a bad car when they go shopping for a secondhand one even when it shines so appealingly on a dealership showroom forecourt.

But who of us has heard of Akerlof’s economic law? Very few I’d suggest yet it applies well in the Used Car Market. I first read about this in Tim Harford’s book ‘The Undercover Economist’ – it explains that when one party to a sale has inside information and the other does not – markets do not work as well as they should.

Hence the 72k used car complaints recorded by Consumer Direct last year I suppose, costing innocent customers an estimated £85m to put right.

Take for example the case where a car dealer buys his stock of used cars, knowing fairly well from experience whether they are good or bad individual buys. Price, mileage (genuine or otherwise), service history, type of mileage, colour, condition; that sort of thing dictates the price he’ll charge knowing what he can make it look like with a bit of elbow grease and tlc.

But the customer doesn’t have the same background insight when she walks into the showroom. If she makes a low offer and gets the car, perhaps it was a lemon because the inside knowledge the salesman relies on is telling him that’s all it’s worth so take it… whereas a good car is worth more, hence his holding out longer for the asking price.

Clearly Akerlof knew his used cars (this works in other markets too of course) and that this is a hit and miss game that buyers and sellers play.

In general, used cars tend to be cheap and poor quality borne out by complaint levels in this area. Sellers want as high a price as possible so they’ll hold out for a better price for a good car but they can’t prove it is a good car so often the good car will sit around for longer.

Whereas a buyer who doesn’t understand the game goes away with a bad car unwittingly, thinking she has got a good deal. She hasn’t of course because the serious bills will start to arrive just as soon as any promising warranty runs out. That’s called Murphy’s Law. Marketers describe the sickening customer realisation that they’ve been shafted as ‘customer dissonance’ and I imagine we’ve all felt that at some time of our lives and determined never to go back…

The reality is that savvy car buyers don’t play a rigged shopping game like this one but there are many unsuspecting customers who don’t know the rules of the used car market and do end up playing here. Sadly many of them are females who trust the dealer who tells her what he needs to, to get the car off his forecourt.

Akerlof’s point is a serious one because this isn’t just a market where shoppers get ripped off, it’s a market that isn’t working properly because buyers want proof of value and VERY often sellers can’t prove this.

Of course the sensible advice is to buy a used car with a HPI type of finance check and then get it inspected for its mechanical fitness (at a discounted rate c/o DEKRA if you are a member of FOXY Lady Drivers Club) within the 6 months when you may be able to get a dealer to take it back or put things right, based on proof.

A reassuring female factor is likely to be an Approved Car stamp by a franchised dealership but the reality is still that the dealer salesman knows a lot more about the car than the customer and they need to sell it for as much as possible because their commission income is involved.

Certainly the customer needs more ammunition on her side so she can wise up in these instances. Depending on the value of the car I’d definitely counsel investing in checking out the mechanical condition of any secondhand car c/o car inspection experts, Dekra, as soon as possible after purchase; only then will you know if it’s a plum not a lemon.


Please see OFT advice here and remember that if you are a member of FOXY Lady Drivers Club we’ll help you sort any used car complaints out – the last resort is that we’ll share really bad feedback within the Club so that other women don’t go there in future.

Used car log book scam in Herts

All women drivers need to be on the alert when buying a used car.  Hertfordshire Trading Standards officers have uncovered a new second-hand car scam; fake service logbooks which are readily available on the internet. An up to date logbook can convince you that a car has been well looked after when it hasn’t and you might pay more for it.

Trading Standards officers posing as customers were able to buy a number of forged car service history log books online varying in price from £9.99 to £35, as part of an investigation within the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) ‘Know Your Consumer Rights’ campaign.

Each book had a variety of different miles and service checks for different car brands. In two cases officers were even asked how many stamps they wanted, including a pre-delivery stamp at the beginning of the book to certify that the vehicle had met inspection standards. These make it relatively easy to fake a vehicle’s service history; just write in how many miles the vehicle has travelled, with a dealer stamp.

In addition, two of the service history books had been illegally reproduced, infringing the car maker’s trademark.

Herts Trading Standards also report that their most common complaint is about used cars bought from independent dealers. In the first eight months of 2010 they received around 1,350 complaints. Whereas OFT managed Consumer Direct reports considerably more complaints to do with independent car dealers (c50k in 2009) than franchised ones but you are not immune here (c15k complaints).

Remember that this is an unregulated part of the motor industry; anyone can sell cars. Typical complaints include selling dangerous cars, charging misleading prices, quoting incorrect warranty terms and employing aggressive sales tactics and chatting up and patronising women of course. In addition, motorists have little or no protection in law if the used car they buy from a private individual turns out to be an expensive dud to run and repair.

Our advice to women considering buying a used car is to
choose a female friendly approved dealer who has signed the ethical FOXY Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services they don’t need.’

  • Don’t buy one ‘as seen’ – this will negate your customer rights afterwards. This often happens at car auctions.
  • Always carry out the equivalent of an HPI used car history check in case of outstanding finance, theft or an accident write off
  • Consider commissioning a vehicle inspection (where this is not included – check what any ‘Approved’ status means if stated)
  • Check the authenticity of stamps in the service history book (where in doubt ask TSI for help here).

If you have any problems and are a member of FOXY Lady Drivers Club we’ll help you sort it out and, where the business is clearly disreputable, we’ll spread the word to other FOXY Ladies within your area – in a feminine way of course ;-).

Name, shame and blame seems to be the only way forward when TSI, Which? and other consumer watchdogs can’t tell consumers who the bad guys are ‘for legal reasons.’


Join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to know who and where the best garages, dealers and dealerships are in your area. This matters because otherwise your car could be unsafe without you realising this. And for a whole host of other good reasons too…