Having had my first car (2004 Renault Clio) for over 2 years I decided it was time to move on. I had been working full time for over 2 years and had saved every penny I could.

The search began quite casually. I had the AutoTrader app on my phone and would go through eBay as well but I didn’t actually go out looking. I had no idea what make or model I was looking for so I was using my budget as a guide.

On my next day off I decided I would go out locally and see what the local dealers and garages had to offer. I went to one of the garages I had gone to when looking for my first car, the garage I saw the Citroen C2 at. They had a plethora of Vauxhall Corsas and Ford Fiestas, classic young drivers cars, but I wanted something a bit more ‘grown up’.

I kept looking, lucky in the knowledge that I didn’t have to rush and buy something as my car was perfectly good. The leaking sunroof had been repaired so I could browse at my leisure. A few weeks later, at the garage I had been to weeks earlier I saw it. I drove past and parked in the centre of the forecourt was a silver 2005 Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch. I pulled into the garage immediately and asked for the facts and figures. It was a relatively high miler with 108,000 on the clock but it was priced accordingly. £1,595.

I raced home and spoke to my dad and he drove back up to the garage with me. I had a look around the car and its paperwork and, without test driving, I put a deposit down on it. I would NEVER again buy a car without a test drive. I was extremely lucky that the car was all well and good. I decided to part exchange my Clio as my younger brother was still too young to drive at the time and I didn’t want the hassle of trying to sell it privately. I was offered a fair part exchange price and decided I would go back the following day in my lunch hour to collect it.

I went home and took everything out of my Clio. Gave her a once over and got ready to trade her in.

2pm couldn’t come quick enough! I raced from my work to the garage, sorted out the paperwork, paid and drove back to work with enough time to munch down a meal deal. As I came out of work after my shifts with a few of my colleagues, they couldn’t believe what I’d bought. Everyone was complimenting me on how nice my car was. I was absolutely over the moon!

I had learnt to drive in an Astra Sport Hatch and absolutely loved it. I could hardly believe that 2 years after passing my test I owned one.

The Astra is a much bigger car than the Clio and it seemed to handle a lot better as well. The cabin was a lot more sound insulated and overall the quality of the materials used was much higher. I soon filled it with all my shit and it became my car.

I took my friends out for a drive in it the same day I got it, I was the first in my friendship group to get their second car and I really wanted to show it off…as you do. We drove around Trafford Park (hardly Monaco), went to Tesco and then back home.

My Astra was my first car that I got serviced at a main dealer. For my 21st I was given a track day experience at the Top Gear test track in Dunsfold, Surrey, which is about 400 miles from where I live. I decided that as it would be such a long way for my car to travel I would get a comprehensive service from Vauxhall.

From what I experienced at this particular Vauxhall dealership I will NEVER go there again and would never recommend it either. I was met with the usual niceties, I handed my keys in and decided that rather than wait around for a few hours I would go home. I got the bus home and awaited the phone call to tell me my car was ready. It had plenty of MOT left on it and was only going in for an oil and spark plug change along with a change of all the filters. I wasn’t expecting any shocking bills or anything out of the ordinary as it wasn’t booking in for an inspection or anything like that…well that’s what I thought. I was at a loose end waiting for my car to be ready and decided that as it was a nice day I would sit in the garden. I had been sat down for about 20 minutes when a text message from Vauxhall came through with a link on it with a video walk round of my car. I clicked on the link, slightly confused, and as I watched the video the confusion turned into anger. They had done an inspection of my car on video and made an extensive list of repairs they thought it needed doing to it. I clicked off the video and onto the itemised list and scrolled straight to the bottom looking for the price. Wait for it…£2,295! Remember I didn’t even pay that for the car and it wasn’t worth that. I phoned them up straight away absolutely fuming. I spoke to them about this list and the person who I spoke to said “we can talk about it more when you come to collect the car because it’s not even worth that so we can look at what options you have”. I didn’t know what he meant by this but I flew down to the dealership and collected my car. They were clearly short of sales that month and thought that by presenting me with that monumental repair bill that I would then proceed to shell out thousands more on a new car! I hasten to add I collected my car, paid for the service and never went near the place again. Our mechanic who normally does our cars took it in to look over it and told me that none of what they said needed doing, needed doing. In fact the only thing he spotted that did need doing, that brakes, they hadn’t spotted!

Brakes sorted the car got my dad and I down to Surrey and back without issue. I’m tempted to name and shame the dealership but I don’t want to get sued. Needless to say I make sure I tell everyone about this incident, and having looked on their Google reviews it’s not an isolated one.

I had my Astra for just over a year…then the problems began (none of which had been picked up by Vauxhall in the above service fiasco). The car developed a problem where it kept cutting out. Randomly I would be driving down the road and suddenly lose all power. When I would pull over and restart it, it would start first time. I couldn’t work it out but as it was only minor and not happening very often, I persevered. But it started getting worse, it was becoming a more frequent problem and it was taking a lot longer to restart the engine. One of the worst instances was when I was driving to The Trafford Centre the car cut out. I pulled over, as I was extremely used to by now, and attempted to restart it. 5 minutes after cutting out and I still couldn’t get it going. I decided I would phone RAC as I was a member with them but after being on hold for 10 minutes I decided to try it again and to my amazement, it started. I went straight home and spoke to our mechanic about him having a look at it. I continued to drive it in the meantime but only locally. And then it happened, the worst conk out of them all. I was coming home from Asda and approaching the main roundabout near Selfridges at The Trafford Centre when suddenly the car died. I was just about to join the roundabout when I noticed I had no power. It would not start. I tried countless amount of times to no avail. There was a small traffic jam growing behind me and I knew I couldn’t just sit there so I got out to attempt to push it onto the island. My brother was in the front passenger seat helping me to steer as I had no power steering and was struggling to steer and push it up a big curb. Luckily with a bit of elbow grease and many swear words I managed to get the car off the main road and onto the island and with one turn of the key… it started! I couldn’t believe it! I decided to sit there with the engine running for a few minutes and turn it on and off a few times before going for it. We waited another 5 minutes and then set off again. This time I managed to get off the roundabout…then it cut out again! Luckily this time it started instantly. I phoned my dad in the meantime, who then phoned our mechanic and and I organised to drop it off with our mechanic on the way home. I got in, emptied the turds from my underwear and got straight onto AutoTrader.

I wanted something newer next time, both my previous cars were a lot older and the Astra was a high miler. I wanted something newer and more reliable. I had just got a new job which was a lot further away from where I previously worked and I would need a car I could rely on.

Again I didn’t know exactly what I wanted so I set my filters for age and price and it drew up a great many options. I whittled them down to 2 contenders, both from the same dealership, and made an appointment to go and see them. A Peugeot 208, 2012 on a 62 plate with 36,000 on the clock and a Kia Rio, 2012 on a 62 plate with 89,000 on the clock. On 27th December 2015 I went and viewed the cars. It was a tough decision as both cars were mint but in the end I preferred the overall appearance and interior of the Peugeot and with that the 208 was mine.