Would I get a good deal were I to trade in my Polo for a Golf?

SLEEK: The Polo 1,4 Hatch Trendline. 10/06/2009.
SLEEK: The Polo 1,4 Hatch Trendline. 10/06/2009.

IN 2006 I was a first-time buyer of a Polo 1,4 Trendline Hatch. Unfortunately, my car was involved in an accident the following year. It was repaired by an approved VW panelbeater and has been running smoothly ever since.

IN 2006 I was a first-time buyer of a Polo 1,4 Trendline Hatch. Unfortunately, my car was involved in an accident the following year. It was repaired by an approved VW panelbeater and has been running smoothly ever since.

What I want to know is: would I get a good deal out of it if I were to trade it in for a Golf 5? Or should I rather finish paying off the Polo first and then buy another car? And when will be the best time for a trade-in?

And another question: Are the Mastercars from VW good or bad?

Jabu,

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Jabu, the question of when is the best time for a trade-in is a hotly debated one. There are more theories about this than there are days in the year. And though each one probably contains a grain of truth, there is no single one that takes the many factors that play a role in every individual case into account.

Very briefly, as a car gets older the annual cost of repairs and replacement parts increases and, even with regular maintenance, the chances of breakdowns become bigger. This is what provides the motivation for a trade-in.

On the other hand, the new (or newer) car with which you replace your older one will depreciate faster than the old one during the first few years, and invariably your monthly repayments will either increase or you will have to extend the repayment period.

This is what puts the brakes on the desire to trade in. There will always be other factors in the picture, but essentially these two opposing forces determine the decision whether to trade in or stick with what you have.

As time goes by the motivation for a trade-in gets stronger, and sooner or later you reach the tipping point where you are ready to take the plunge.

After that it becomes a matter of finding the best trade-in deal. It obviously helps if your car is neat and tidy, polished and vacuumed, when you take it for a valuation.

A complete, up-to-date service history also helps. You will have to tell the dealer that the car was involved in an accident in 2007, but if the repairs were properly done and are hardly visible, this should not affect its trade-in value.

Of all the many schemes that people have to get a good trade-in deal, there is only one that I would give some consideration. At the end of a particular car model's production run, when the new model is already appearing in the showrooms, dealers will sometimes have a few of the superseded model in stock that they desperately want to move off the floor - and this is when we see serious discounts.

As for Mastercars, I think it all depends on which particular branch you walk into and which salesperson first notices you - as everywhere in life, luck plays an amazing part in car hunting.

Be wary of extra-cost warranties. In fact, be wary of all warranties.

Study the details closely to see what is covered and, especially, what is not covered.

Remember that once you have signed there's no turning back.

l Send all your queries to guru@sowetan.co.za

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