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 € 3400 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.

Costs so far

€91 New battery, connectors & fitting.

€97.50 New exhaust & fitting.


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