The best way to save money on vehicles is to buy them used, especially after one to three years of use where someone else has paid the depreciation. But, how do you find a vehicle that is in a nearly new condition, well maintained, and indistinguishable from the hottest status symbol? Here are three tips for buying a used luxury vehicle you’ll be able to appreciate and use for years.
Do Your Research
Just because it is a luxury brand car does not mean the vehicle is reliable or safe. Check the safety and repair rates for used luxury vehicles with sources like Consumer Reports. Know that even within the same brand, different models may have significantly different ratings. The side benefit of buying used is that you have information about what can go wrong with the car and you can avoid model years with more issues than the others.
If there has been a recall for that vehicle, you will need to verify that the vehicle in question has been repaired per recall. Do not assume that the car being under warranty is good enough and don’t trust the seller’s claim that it is still under warranty. Certified pre-owned vehicles sold by dealers often come with a full warranty, but you still need to verify this when buying such cars. Also check vehicle history reports, since this will show if the car was flooded or previously in a wreck.
Have the Vehicle Inspected by Someone You Trust
Don’t assume that the seller or dealer selling a used vehicle will give you the full report as to what is wrong or worn down on the vehicle. For example, take a used BMW for sale to a BMW service repair shop in your area and ask them for an inspection. See this as insurance, just as you pay for a home inspection before you buy a car. It is worth it to pay for two or three inspections before you find a used vehicle with a good maintenance history and in excellent condition. Do not rely on the dealership’s shop to do an inspection; they are not a neutral third party.
Set a Budget
The book “The Millionaire Next Door” found that many of those with a million-dollar net worth did buy luxury cars, but always used and always on a budget. They looked for low mileage, well-maintained cars. They didn’t spend a fortune on status symbols and they rarely took out car loans. Set a budget based on what you can afford to buy in cash. If the vehicle is too expensive, wait for a better deal. Don’t assume you have to pay for a dealer’s trade-ins. You may find that lease returns are an affordable source of luxury vehicles.
Do your research on the safety, reliability and known problems with each make and model of vehicle you are considering. Set a budget, and don’t go over it because someone tries to sell the car to you as the ultimate status symbol. Always have the vehicle inspected by someone you trust.