Secondhand cars are ridiculously expensive to buy in Portugal. In my experience cars are 4 times more expensive here than the U.K. I could buy an old car for £1000 in the U.K but here it would cost €4000+. When we researched buying a second hand car, all the dealerships wanted €10,000+ for a car a few years old! We are not precious about cars and we just needed a vehicle that is reliable and gets us from A to B without breaking down. It is essential to own a car where we live as it’s a small rural village with an infrequent bus service. We had quite a nightmare buying a secondhand car here in Portugal and I have detailed our buying journey under a separate post. We have owned our car since 1st Feb so nearly 6 months now. I thought it would be a good idea to keep a note of maintenance costs and every time something needs fixing to share how much it actually costs to keep an old used car running here. I am not going to include petrol as we don’t fill up the tank regularly every week as we use the car for random journeys as hubby works from home so no daily commute. I will list all the costs minus petrol.

I am very interested in finding out how much we spend in a year. The plan is to try and keep it running for 1-2 years then upgrade to a newer smaller more reliable car. I would love a car with air con. Our car was advertised with manual air con. Manual air con is a window with a winding handle and the air con is the natural hot air of Portugal (ha ha). The added benefit is you can leave the house with soaking wet hair and it’s dry in less than 10 minutes. You arrive at your destination a little wind swept like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards, I call it the Tina Turner look. The car has been pretty good so far in the respect that we have been able to buy and fit into the car a whole lot of large flat pack furniture and tons of bagged compost and manure but I would feel more comfortable driving a smaller car.

We are really lucky as when our car would not start, hubby cycled to nearby petrol station to buy jump leads and they gave him the name of a local mechanic ‘Fernando’ who lives down the road. Hubby has just returned from collecting the car and said that his mechanic’s assistant looks like Randy from My name is Earl and now I can’t stop laughing! He didn’t tell him that as it’s not really a compliment! Hubby also had to tell Fernando the make and model of the car but also took it upon himself to tell him that the car is Azul escuro (dark blue/navy). Not sure why, maybe navy blue cars have a different type of special exhaust (ha ha). I think the heat is getting to us both! I have a sneaky feeling that the clutch is going to go soon as it’s very sticky and I know from past experience in the U.K that this is a costly job. Also the gear stick is a bit dodgy and again I had an issue in the U.K with my cars gear stick and linking which again was a costly repair job so these are 2 jobs which may be necessary in the near future. I say a little prayer every time I get in the car and I thank Jose Miguel for getting us home safely each time I exit the car.

The car (Jose Miguel)

Citroen Xsara €3200 with 12 months IPO (MOT) & 12 months IUC (Road tax)



Insurance third party with breakdown cover €191

Jobs so far

Battery: The car would not start last month and it turned out to be the battery. It was very corroded and so were the connecting wires. We took the car to a local garage in Arganil but it was closed. The petrol station next door managed to phone someone who worked at the garage and they kindly came out and opened up just for us! This garage is great as when we had a flat tyre with our hire car when we signed house deeds back in Dec the garage staff came out and retrieved our car, took it back to garage and sorted tyre. It didn’t need a new tyre just a new valve and pumping up, there was no hole as they took it off and examined it. The total cost for all this around €10. They could have easily ripped us off and sold us a new tyre.

Exhaust: The exhaust started rattling and making a huge bad noise on the way back from Porto. I had visions of it falling off in the middle of a toll road! Hubby took it to Fernando, Mechanic down the road. Hubby arranged a time to drop the car off and on the way a little old Portuguese lady waved him down and asked for a lift to the next village (10 min drive away). He was a bit early so took her. It’s strange but this is becoming our normal now (ha ha). I often said I wonder how they manage as they are a very old couple. I often see the old man sleeping on his porch and they have a tiny makeshift washing line made from string and sticks and I only ever see 2 pairs of huge grey Y fronts (that were once white a lifetime ago) blowing in the wind. I wish they were our immediate neighbours as they are so friendly even if we are lost in translation. I often wondered how they managed without a car, now I know they just flag down cars and hitch hike (ha ha). I’m currently watching the Slasher series on Netflix so I am a little concerned about picking up hitch hikers, especially if they have an axe! I am also unsure if we should be giving lifts to random strangers whilst we are supposed to be social distancing. Maybe we should hose them down with anti bacterial spray before they get in and make them sit in the back seats.

2020 Costs so far

€91 New battery, connectors & fitting.

€97.50 New exhaust & fitting.

€15 Front set of Bosch windscreen wipers.


I am praying that the car will get us safely around all the tourist attractions I have planned for my daughters upcoming visit next month. I don’t like to drive more than 2 hours each way but I have 1 day trip which is 3 hours away, so we shall see. I will update the costs on this post throughout the year. Fingers crossed that there won’t be much to update! Wish me luck and pray for Jose Miguel, may he live a long and frugal life XXX

2021 A new year, same old car

2021 Costs so far

I decided to carry this post over to 2021. We spent very minimal amounts on car maintenance for 2020. The IPO (MOT) and car tax is due 23rd Jan and insurance on 1st Feb. We definitely require new tyres and possibly brake pads. All in all I am very pleased with our old banger. I will add the costs for 2021 below as maintenance jobs arise.


Our car failed it’s IPO on emissions and fog light being out of alignment. Very frustrating as we took it for a pre-inspection at a local garage and paid for new tyres as well as a few other minor fixes. It passed on the re-inspection so all is good but it was an expensive time.

Work carried out prior to inspection

X4 new tyres and a few other bits and bobs:

€293.03 + 23% IVA = Total of €360.43

Work carried out after IPO fail

The main fail was the emissions and the catalytic convertor was the main cost. This total cost includes the re-inspection fee and the mechanic taking the car to the inspection centre for the re-inspection.

Emissions test €35

Catalytic converter €280

Fog light adjustment €10

Re-inspection €6.42

X3 hours of labour at €26 per hour €78

€409.42 + 23% IVA = Total of €503.59

July 2021 – Shock absorbers

On our way to Sintra the car started to make a huge squeaking noise. We knew it wasn’t a mechanical fault from the engine but it sounded like it was coming from the suspension. We took the car to our trusted mechanic down the road and it ended up needing 2 new shock absorbers.

2 Shock Absorbers €82.94

Lube (cuz everyone and thing needs some lube – ha ha) €6.00

Labour €39.00

€127.94 + 23% IVA = Total of €157.37

2022 Another new year, same old car

The IPO (MOT) was due on 23rd January so this time we decided to drop it off at our mechanic and leave the car with him and let him service it, make any necessary repairs and also take it to the Inspection Centre. We needed a new drivers side door handle as it fell off which resulted in me having to lean across and let hubby back in the car every time he exited which was mildly annoying as I have a bad back. I was hoping that the invoice this time would be minimal after last year but it needed a few minor repairs, all of which were cheap but soon add up and then there is 23% tax added on top. I am hoping that this is all that is needed for 2022 but we shall see, time will tell. I am still pretty pleased with our old banger which is now 20 years old!

We also ended up staying with the original car insurer as we shopped around and checked with an insurance agent who got us a good deal on our home insurance but he couldn’t get us a cheaper quote and neither could we. The insurance for the year with breakdown cover cost €161.28 and the road tax cost €57.73.

€304.52 + 23% IVA = Total of €374.56

Squeaky & Grinding Breaks (05/09/2022)

Front Break Pads Paid a total of €56.50.

Clutch (22/10/2022)

During September 2022 we attempted to drive our car down a dirt track to a remote waterfall and although it got down O.K it struggled to get back up. It barely made it and a really bad burning smell emanated from the back end and I’m not talking about hubby’s rear but the cars back end (ha ha). Ever since this day our car has had random on/off difficulty reaching the top of hills (a bit like me when I’m jogging up the Serra do Açor). Fast forward to a wet and windy evening in October and our car just gave up the ghost en route to my hairdressers. It would drive slow on flat surfaces but would not go up the smallest hill so we had to abandon the car at the roadside. I had to walk 2 km up steep hills in the rain without a coat and just an umbrella which I found in the boot. We took it to our local mechanic and indeed the Clutch was the issue. It cost close to €500 to fix. If our car keeps on producing hefty invoices each year I am going to have to start selling my used panties online! This means I will have to start wearing some first as I’m The Queen of Commando and I bet the domain name “” has already been snapped up (ha ha).

€405.23 + 23% IVA = Total of €498.43