Renault Clio - First car advice... - argybargy

Yes, another "which is the best first car" thread.

My daughter has at last decided its time for her to take her test, get on the road and join the merry go round. She had a number of lessons back in 2014, did pretty well but had to pack it in due to factors beyond her control. I don't think it would take her many more to get "test ready."

There are of course a number of suitable first cars to choose from, but she's particularly expressed an interest in the Renault Clio. A quick trawl of online sites has revealed that cars around 2007 can be had for well under two grand from a dealer, and it occurs to me that despite the slightly higher outlay, we might be best buying from the trade using a credit card and thus spread the cost and take advantage of the Section 75 protection.

I've only ever owned one French car, a 1998 Renault Scenic, and despite discovering after purchase that the model had a pretty awful reputation, it wasn't too bad. Perhaps we were just lucky.

Would any Clio owners, past and present, or anyone else who has first hand knowledge of the brand, please favour me with their experience of older Clio ownership in terms of problems, pitfalls, even advantages?

Thanks in advance.,

Edited by argybargy on 02/04/2017 at 10:58

Renault Clio - First car advice... - RobJP

Whilst some Renaults do seem to have pretty poor reputations - the Laguna from 2001-2007 seems to have electronics made from cheese, along with factory-fitted mice - I know of a couple of people who've run Clios for considerable times and mileages.

One friend in particular ran a 55 plate Clio diesel for 170,000 miles. He bought it as an ex-demo, and was meticulous with care and servicing, which may account for the lack of problems encountered.

As always, history is probably the most critical thing. Get that right, and you're hopefully avoiding a lot of the problems.

Do bear in mind, if buying retail, rather than from a private seller, that what you buy for £2k cost the trader more like £1k-£1.2k. You may be better, even though the legal protections are fewer, buying from a genuine private seller. You'd get a newer, lower-mileage car for the same sort of money.

Just avoid any 'private sellers' who are not the registered keeper on the V5 - when you call up, just ask "Are you the registered keeper". If the answer is no, then, unless they can provide convincing evidence that they're selling grannies car on her behalf, assume they're a trader.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - Terry W

Bought a Renault Clio 55 plate for daughter as a first car four years ago for about £2k.

It has now done over 100k (30k in her ownership) almost faultlessly. The most recent MOT cost around £250 - the most expensive by a considerable margin since she has had it.

But there is a lot of dross out there when it comes to 10 year old cars. What set this apart is that it drove like a 3 year old car when I tested it (no squeaks, rattles, odd noises, engine and gearbox smooth etc) and had clearly been well looked after.

Would recommend!

Renault Clio - First car advice... - lucklesspedestrian

We did exactly this for our daughter's first car (2007 model)

I would recommend the basic 1.2 16v 75bhp engine. It's a sweet little unit and much better than the 1.4 which offers little in the way of performance advantage. The Clio has a pretty good safety rating which is also an added bonus. Even the 3 door is pretty roomy for 4 adults and the boot is a good size.

It's unusually low geared in top but you get used to that and mpg is pretty decent (39mpg mostly around town)

Watch out for electrical problems such as the heater blower not working on some settings and various panel lights not working. Brakes can tend to squeak a bit but I suppose there's always going to be something. The starter motors can play up sometimes but it's usually only a gunked up 12v feed which needs cleaned up or trimmed off with a new spade connector attached.

Would also recommend but like everything at this age/price bracket it comes down to how the individual vehicle has been looked after.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - badbusdriver

Renaults in general, do not have a very great reputation for reliability, but that does not mean they are all unreliable.

But with this age of car there is going to be a lot left to chance, as you have no real way of knowing what kind of a life the car has led. With regards to any car of this age, keep it simple. A basic petrol engine, and a fairly low level of trim (less gizmo's to potentially break!).

What i do know about renault clio's of this age is that they were about the safest cars in their class, which, for your daugher, will be a comfort.

Another safe car of a similar age is the '06- toyota yaris, which has the added bonus of toyota's reputation for peerless reliability. They also fall into lower insurance groups, with the 1.0 (68bhp) being group 2, whereas the lowest group for the clio (petrol) is the 1.2 (75bhp) at group 6. In fact even the 85bhp 1.3 yaris is only group 6.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - argybargy

Thanks all for the prompt responses; much appreciated.

My initial thought when she started talking about getting on the road at last was the safeish option of Fiesta, Corsa etc, but she did express admiration for the Clio, and its certainly a nice looking car, though the usual (and clearly not always fair) reservations about French build quality immediately sprang to mind. Good to know that, judging from the responses so far, it can be a reasonably reliable car as well, if you buy well and/ or get lucky.

Rob, thanks for the advice re advantages for and against buying from a dealer, and things to look out for. I've bought a few crumbling sheds over the years and don't really trust myself to buy something for my daughter without some kind of consumer protection; hence the plan to buy from a trader. However, I definitely won't ignore the private ads, lest I inadvertantly manage to ignore a little treasure.

Also noted the recommendation for the 1.2 engine, and the insurance costs in comparison to other cars in the class, along with the safety aspect. Sounds like good advice also.

Edited by argybargy on 02/04/2017 at 13:24

Renault Clio - First car advice... - Andrew-T

You may be better, even though the legal protections are fewer, buying from a genuine private seller. You'd get a newer, lower-mileage car for the same sort of money.

.... and if you buy from an honest private seller you should be able to find out a lot more about the car's history and how reliable it is. You'll get no warranty, but a warranty a dealer gives on a 10-year-old car may not be much use anyway.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - SLO76
The Mk II Clio facelift from 2001 is a better car than its reputation suggests. Mechanically straightforward, the engines are robust if maintained properly as are the manual transmissions. The body resists rot better than most and they're rated above average for crash safety for their year. Trim is fragile and interiors rattle prone, sunroofs are notorious for leaks but they're not bad wee cars all in.

Things to watch for include a tendency for the bonnet catch to fail allowing the bonnet to flip up at speed. This was shown on BBC Watchdog and thousands of cases are known of. It was found however after an investigation by Renault and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) that it was largely down to poor maintenance mostly because of customers simply not servicing their vehicles or using poor quality fast fit service centres or some backstreet workshops who do the basics only and don't check and lubricate catches and battery terminals etc.

They also have a tendency to snap timing belts, again this is largely down to owners scrimping and refusing or being ignorant of the need to change the belt and tensioner every 5yrs or 72,000 miles. If the car you're looking at hasn't proof in the form of a invoice/receipt that this has been done then it won't have been and you need to budget on doing it straight away. Some cars you can get away with stretching belt intervals on, this isn't one of them.

They also tend to eat wheel bearings beyond 70k, head gaskets can also go pop past 80k but aren't really that common to be honest, it does need checking though.

Sadly the bulk of people who buy Renaults do so because they're cheap and they tend not to have much mechanical understanding which is reflected by the abundance of poorly maintained Renault's we see on the roads and on forecourts. As a result used Renaults have a somewhat worse reputation than they really deserve. Buy one new and look after it properly and they'll last well in general.

Now personally I'd advise against having a fixed notion of what car you want at this price point and would instead build up a shortlist of possibilities to work from. Buy only with proof of annual servicing even if this means paying more or buying older. Forget anything that hasn't proof of maintenance even if it looks tidy. Too many (sorry ladies) women buy superminis and totally neglect them mechanically even though the body is cleaned regularly and the interior spotless. Lift the bonnet and you'll find cobwebs and leaves, if you can even get the hood up.

I'd also buy privately at this level too. You get to meet the owner face to face, avoiding the salesmans lies, also see the owners home (will tell you plenty about them) and you'll get more for your money. Any warranty at this age will be next to worthless but yes you do have some legal cover, age, value and mileage are factors in this though. There will be fees for paying by credit card and I believe I'm right in saying that all you need to do to be covered is to pay the first £100 of it on the card and you're covered for the full value. Verify this though.

Look for a motor that's been owned longterm, any less than 2yrs and you can bet it's been trouble. If you must buy from a dealer then you're best buying from a larger establishment that is likely to have taken it in as part exchange. Avoid smaller backstreet dealers who largely buy poor quality stock at auction which wasn't fit to be retailed by the original dealer then they repair it on the cheap. 90% of the cars I'm asked to look at in these places have had poor quality paint repairs or worse. Remember, if it went to auction then it had something wrong with it. The only auction stock worth buying is ex fleet stock there because it's at the end of its term. Almost everything else is trash.

Finally, where are you located? I'll have a wee look for examples of what I'd be thinking of myself.

Edited by SLO76 on 02/04/2017 at 15:58

Renault Clio - First car advice... - argybargy

Thanks again for the detailed advice about the model, buying options, faults to look for etc.

I'm based in North Wales and to be honest we don't exactly have an abundance of dealers in this area. However, trawling the online sites up to 50 miles from here does reveal a fair number of cars of suitable mileage, model and age, so I've few worries about availability. Also taken on board the advantages of buying privately, though of course I couldn't pay by credit card if we bought the car from a private seller and we don't currently have the funds to cover the transaction any other way; nor do I intend to take out a loan. As for credit card fees, I expect to be buying on one card and balance transferring onto another, so no worries re interest, not for a good while at least, though initially there could of course be a small fee to pay for the transfer.

One thing I'll definitely be doing, IF we buy from a dealer through an online site is to print the advert and make sure the price is clearly shown. There was an occasion about ten years ago when my son was looking for a car, and we found a Rover 25 (yes, I know) in a small, independent garage and paid a deposit by credit card. Unfortunately the balance wasn't shown on the receipt, and when we went back to pay the outstanding money I found that the b*****£ had lobbed an extra £100 on the price, the online advert having been updated with the new figure rather than being removed, as any honourable salesman would do. I had no proof of the old price so was unable to argue my corner, and my son had set his heart on the car, so had to pay the extra. Left a bad taste, I can tell you. As did the fact that the salesman had agreed to meet us at a certain time to complete the sale, but when we got there he was at the local barber having his beard trimmed. He wandered in 20 minutes after we arrived without a word of apology, then proceeded to rip me off, presumably to pay for his next dozen or so beard trims.

And then there was the non functioning front passenger side electric window on that same car, that try as we might we couldn't get the garage to sort out despite all manner of earnest sounding promises. And which we ended up fixing ourselves.

Uncharitable of me it might be, but I can only hope that since then, the garage in question has gone down with all hands.

Edited by argybargy on 03/04/2017 at 10:57

Renault Clio - First car advice... - Bromptonaut

Whereabouts in North Wales?

A year or so ago we were looking for a car for my son. If he'd lived locally I'd have bought in Northampton but he stayed in Liverpool after University. We have good friends in Wrexham, our kids have grown up together and they're like aunt/uncle to our lad. Being a bit clueless about dealers in Liverpool we looked down their way.

We were recommended Hope Motor Co and while we didn't buy there it was an issue with specific vehicle we looked at; the place itself was fine.

Bought instead from Dickens in Wrexham.

If she's set on a Clio fair enough but other decent options might be Fiat Panda or Pug 107/Cit C1/Toyota Aygo

Renault Clio - First car advice... - RobJP

Unfortunately, in North Wales, we've got some of the most backward-thinking main dealers in the UK. Slaters (who have a few marques) basically won't do discounts to any realistic degree, knowing that the OAP set who aren't internet-savvy will buy off them anyway, as they don't know that discounts are available. So too many people then price their private sale cars off Slaters ridiculous prices for the part-ex's that they've got up for sale - until they send them off to auction a couple of months later.

Astonishingly, we have, here in North Wales, a Ford dealership who didn't even have an online presence of any sort until last year. They are that anti-competitive.

If you can't find anything decent, then going to Wilson's auctions in Queensferry might be worth a look - they do get lots of part-exs sent straight there. Don't bother with Ewloe auctions though, anything in there is on it's last legs, and they're notorious for taking bids 'off the wall'. Similar warning applies for the auctions in Ellesmere Port.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - gordonbennet

Astonishingly, we have, here in North Wales, a Ford dealership who didn't even have an online presence of any sort until last year. They are that anti-competitive.

Coincidentally we had exactly the same backward thinking Ford dealership in Wellingborough, Northants.

Used to close at Saturday lunchtime, and i don't mean the parts desk i mean the whole lot, how they expected people with jobs (who unless you live in lala land) are the ones usually buying new cars, to be able to attend to suit their pathetic opening hours during the week i haven't a clue.

That garage is long gone, are you shocked, thought not.

Maybe they had a sign on the wall saying the exact opposite of the one that metaphorically hangs on the wall where i work, you know the one, that says ''the customer is the most important person in our company'' ...sometimes we really need a face palm smiley in this place.

Edited by gordonbennet on 03/04/2017 at 12:08

Renault Clio - First car advice... - SteVee

We have a 2005 Clio 1.2 8V, which we've owned for about ten years. The only significant problem was the airbag light - but an indie has now fixed that permanently. We specifically looked for the 8V rather than the 16V - the 16V only produces more power at high revs and my wife doesn't usually rev the car; the 8V is probably better in these conditions. The 8V is also much easier in maintenance - just a single cam, and I think it's a non-interfence engine. It's an enjoyable car to drive.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - SLO76
You are a bit lacking in choice down there right enough. Excluding the private sales where I'd normally recommend a search at this money, even if it does involve a bit more risk and the need for a bank loan, the savings made would far outweigh any interest incurred plus you're more likely to find a better looked after car that's not been tarted up. I did however spot these which have apparently been traded in at main dealers which is always a good sign that the last owner was well enough off to buy another new or newish car.

Auto Trader:

Edited by SLO76 on 03/04/2017 at 15:01

Renault Clio - First car advice... - corax
Sadly the bulk of people who buy Renaults do so because they're cheap and they tend not to have much mechanical understanding which is reflected by the abundance of poorly maintained Renault's we see on the roads and on forecourts. As a result used Renaults have a somewhat worse reputation than they really deserve. Buy one new and look after it properly and they'll last well in general.

I think that's true. I used to work with a lad who's Clio left him in the lurch a number of times, but the problems could have been avoidable if he'd only lifted the bonnet occasionally and had it serviced. In the end he traded it in for a Peugeot 307 that was subsequently thrashed and ended up with a blown engine after the head gasket failed, despite me repeatedly telling him to check the car and service it. You can't help some people.

Although Renault have had a few lemons, I think a lot of problems are caused by the type of people that buy them as you say. The Clio seems to be a robust car if serviced properly.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - Andrew-T
Although Renault have had a few lemons, I think a lot of problems are caused by the type of people that buy them as you say. The Clio seems to be a robust car if serviced properly.

The handbook for the early model Clio gave no service interval for coolant change. As a consequence no-one bothered to do it until they had to do rather more. It would have been obvious on lifting the bonnet that the overflow bottle contained brown soup too.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - RaineMan

Keeping your search to one model when buying secondhand can lead to problems. Here are some other options:-

Renault Clio - First car advice... - argybargy

Bromptonaut, we’re just outside Holywell, but willing to travel if we find the right car. Perhaps even to the Wirral (where we used to live) which is a peninsular, and therefore a place where some dealers bump up their prices in the belief that car buying residents are dissuaded by the proximity of all that water from searching too far afield.

I had a quick look at Hope and they currently have an 08 Clio for 3 grand, which is a bit pricey for our pockets. My daughter isn’t likely to be in a position to take her test till late May at the earliest, and we have a fairly expensive family occasion towards the end of this month, so any major purchase in April is out of the question! However, any relevant information about suitable models, their pitfalls/ advantages and buying options is as valuable, and as welcome now as it will be in May, or June, or whenever we actually start to look in earnest.

Rob, that’s a fascinating (and pretty damning) resume of the market in North Wales. Sounds to me as if we’d definitely be best looking further afield if prices are that skewed by the cavalier purchasing habits of the final salary set. Sorry, but I’m far too short on confidence in my second hand car buying skills to consider using an auction, and I don’t really know anyone with sufficient expertise who could go with me and make sure I don’t buy yet another shed.

Many thanks to everyone else for the advice and the links. Some nice looking cars there for pretty decent prices, and that Telegraph link is potentially very useful. Plenty of ammunition for us to take with us on our Clio (or something else) buying travels.

Edited by argybargy on 03/04/2017 at 23:16

Renault Clio - First car advice... - RobJP

Ah, not too far from me then (near Denbigh), and one side of my wife's family are from Lixwm.

Renault Clio - First car advice... - argybargy

Certainly in the same backyard, and a very scenic one it is, too. .

Edited by argybargy on 04/04/2017 at 09:24


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