There are plenty of things we don’t really need in our rural Mallorcan lifestyle: earplugs to drown out the sound of noisy neighbours (although the wildlife can sometimes assault the ears); designer footwear (except perhaps by Hunter or Dr Martens), or a lawn mower – just to name a few.
But as we live in a rural area untouched by public transport, a set of wheels is essential. Preferably four of them (and a spare, of course). We had this driven home (pardon the pun) when our overworked Toyota RAV 4 broke down in August while I was on the way to interview the artist Arturo Rhodes in Deià for abcMallorca magazine.
The Boss had decided to come along for the ride but, as we approached the Sóller tunnel, dark smoke started to belch from the car. Goodbye turbo. The interview was hastily postponed and we had a breakneck-speed ride back to the Toyota garage in Manacor in a grua (tow truck).
Long story short, there was no way to tell whether a replacement turbo would be the solution. The mechanic was 90 per cent sure the engine was OK, but obviously couldn’t tell definitely until a new turbo was fitted. A large sum of money was exchanged for a car that worked again – and, for a while, better than it had for some time.
Fast forward a few weeks and a new problem developed: if the engine was cold, it started easily. If the engine was still warm from recent use, it wouldn’t re-start. We experienced this several times – including one rather alarming one when the engine died in the middle lane of Palma’s Via Cintura – the motorway around the city. Amidst blaring horns (it was rush hour), we somehow reached the hard shoulder, where we donned flattering fluorescent waistcoats to stand out of danger. Three-quarters of an hour later, the engine had cooled sufficiently to enable us to restart the car.
Our garage declared our much-loved car a terminal case. Unless we wanted to invest in a new engine. The car was already of an age (and mileage) that meant we had been contemplating replacing it in the not-too-distant future, so The Boss buried himself in the task of finding a replacement vehicle. Because we need a 4×4, to tow a trailer-load of logs home regularly in winter, our budget would stretch only to a secondhand vehicle.
Buying a secondhand 4×4 isn’t easy on Mallorca. Unlike in the UK, many car dealers offer few used vehicles. We even looked at what was available for sale in Barcelona, just in case there was something that would make the journey worthwhile. In the end, we were fortunate to find one that fitted the bill in Manacor. A fortnight ago it became ours. Next week a tow bar will be fitted and we’ll be able to collect our first load of logs for autumn. It’s just as well that Mallorca’s been enjoying what our neighbours call el veranillo de San Martín – a little Indian summer . . .
Buying a secondhand car on Mallorca?
- Car hire companies often sell off ex-rental saloon cars at the end of the season; check websites to see what’s on offer.
- On Facebook, the page Second Hand Cars Mallorca may yield something of interest.
- If you buy a secondhand car you become liable for any debts relating to it, such as unpaid vehicle tax, outstanding hire purchase payments, or traffic offence fines. Checks can be made (see below).
- As with many things in Spain, there’s some bureaucratic stuff to wade through related the vehicle purchase, sale, or importation (which we once did and wouldn’t recommend!). If you haven’t the patience/language skills/time/desire to bang your head repeatedly against a brick wall to want to tackle this yourself, you can enlist some help. We can recommend the following:
Zoe Leggett (also specializes in classic car registration).
Mallorca Solutions – offers a host of helpful services, including vehicle related.