Ask the expert: ‘Am I throwing good money after bad to fix my old Renault?’

Alex Robbins is contributing editor at Telegraph Cars where, as well as responding to readers’ queries, he also contributes reviews of new and used cars, together with articles on buying and selling. 

His knowledge of the used car market informs his many buying guides relating to the best buys in particular sectors, with an emphasis on value for money.  Every week he will answer your questions on buying and selling, as well as solving your car problems, whether consumer or mechanical.

Do you have a motoring dilemma you’d like our expert to solve?  For consumer and used car advice, or car faults, email CarsAdvice@telegraph.co.uk and include your subscriber number. This week’s question…


Dear Alex, 

After 81,500 miles, my Renault Grand Scenic 1.5 dCi needs a new clutch, glow plugs, a timing belt as well as an MOT test. It drives for a bit but then the engine goes into “limp home” mode. All three garages I’ve contacted say it’s more trouble than it’s worth and that I shouldn’t waste my money, scrapping the car instead. However, even with the exorbitant cost of repair, it would still be cheaper than buying another car; cash flow is not brilliant at the moment, and used values are through the roof. And as I hope to be in a position to get a newer car in a year or so, I’d rather wait. But I’m conscious of throwing good money after bad. What should I do? 

– AJ

Dear AJ,

This is a dilemma that all owners of low-value cars face at some point: when does the money you’re spending no longer make sense and when is the right time to cut your losses?

Sadly, I suspect that time might be now. You don’t mention how old your Grand Scenic is, but from the mileage and the description I’m guessing it’s a second-generation car (2003-2009), in which case it’s probably not worth much more than £2,000 even in good, working order.

I reckon you could easily spend £1,500 or so, if not more, doing the glow plugs, timing belt and clutch – and those are the problems you know exist. You’ve then got to get to the bottom of the limp-home issue – assuming it isn’t caused by the glow plugs, which I’d think to be unlikely, given they’d usually cause an issue with starting, rather than driving. And then you’ve got to get it through its MOT test.

With that in mind, I think it might be a better bet to sell it for parts and get back what you can for it, then put the money instead into a new, stand-in car for the next year or so. It’s still possible to find yourself something that should suit for less than £2,000 with a long-ish MOT; for example, I found a Ford Focus C-Max with 97,000 miles and a full year’s MOT and a year’s warranty for £1,300. 

In your shoes, I’d buy something like that as a stand-in, cut the Renault loose and look forward to next year when, hopefully, times are better and you can splash out on something newer. There’s also a chance that the used market will be less heated than it is now.


For new and used buying guides, tips and expert advice, visit our Advice section, or sign up to our newsletter here

To talk all things motoring with the Telegraph Cars team join the Telegraph Motoring Club Facebook group here

A-Z Car Finder

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.