Q. I have the proverbial gas guzzler. A big car ( 3.3 litre bought in 2009 ) and apart from the tax ( € 1200 ) the petrol consumption is heavy on the pocket – 18 miles per gallon ( 16 litres per 100 kms) and it’s a hybrid ! Is it worth my while going for a PCP scheme and buying a new car ?  Perhaps even an electric one ? I have nt worked out what I would be saving but I am sure it could be justified. Can you help ? Robbie – Portlaois Co Laois

A. A timely question Robbie. The car is possibly the worst depreciating asset you could buy. The question therefore is by swapping to a 2 litre car or lower engine, you could not only save the car tax up to € 1,000 a year ( especially if it is electric ) but the petrol/diesel consumption could be a quarter of you currently are achieving – and certainly achieveable if you go electric, have your own EV charger AND you have the night time rate. Personal Contract Plans ( PCPs) are an innovative way of buying a new car with your initially paying c. 25% to 30% deposit, repaying relatively small repayments over a three year period at the end of which you can do one of 3 things…hand the car back, pay a lump sum to buy out the contract or roll the loan over and take possession of a new model. But you are now in danger of the never ending car loan…dangerous ! Your present car is getting older, nearer the scrapheap and you now have annual NCT examinations to do…it might be worth popping into your local garage at least to run through the figures. Make sure it’s part of your budget, you can afford it and does not put you over that 35% threshold of your net annual income on total financial commitments already being repaid… if you are over this threshold ( includes mortgage / rent, personal loans, visa card payments etc`) save instead and forget the car. If you do take out a PCP loan the ideal scenario is to save over the same 3 year period and have the lump sum on maturity of the PCP instead of rolling over the loan. You could of course always pop along to your competitive credit union and borrow from them – their rates are good. Take advice.


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