A car speaks a lot about your lifestyle, choices, and your overall personality, so it’s important to choose a vehicle that not only suits your everyday needs, but suits you as well. Now the real dilemma… you can either buy a brand new sensible car that will meet those needs or a slightly used luxury vehicle that you’ve always dreamt of. Now who wouldn’t like a BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz tucked away nicely in their garage? Well we’re sure most of us would, but the big question is this: Is a used luxury a smart choice?
Cheap to buy, expensive to own
The main problem with buying a seemingly cheap, used luxury car is simple: maintenance and repair costs. Although the luxury car itself may have depreciated to the point where you can afford to buy it, parts aren't any cheaper than they were when it was new. This is compounded by the fact that luxury vehicles are fitted with all the latest and greatest technologies - nice initially, but not so excellent if they break later, costing thousands of dollars to repair and fix. As the years roll by, the chances of a failure increases. Parts can be expensive and sometimes just sourcing them can cause a headache. When features like special air suspension, electronic control modules, cruise control and other automated systems fail, it can suck the fun out of a luxury vehicle.
It isn't just the cost of maintenance and repairs that'll get you. Luxury cars are also more expensive in other areas such as insurance and fuel. For insurance, companies have to pay out higher claims for luxury cars if they're hit due to expensive parts and labour. Meanwhile, fuel is often more expensive for luxury cars because they’re fitted with larger engines (original owners likely didn't prioritise fuel economy).
Luxury vehicles are often cherished possessions and generally they’ve been looked after in the best way possible, but, when you’re looking to buy one, take the time to trawl through invoices to understand how well the vehicle was looked after. This will also give you some guidance about the level of maintenance it received as well at the average servicing bills you may need to entertain.
If you just can’t bring yourself to buy that sensible vehicle you set out to buy, here are some simple tips that can help to reduce the risks of your new luxury.
• Ensure you can at least afford insurance cover
• Go for a decent test drive and check for any suspicious noises
• Get a diagnostic scan
• Have a specialist look over the vehicle, preferably someone with in-depth knowledge of that particular model and the common faults that can occur
• Investigate the potential repairs and their costs - if some parts are on their last legs, understand what it will cost when the repair is necessary
• Talk to a club or enthusiast group to better understand the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the particular model to look out for
• Get a pre purchase inspection
You may be able to afford the luxury car you’re after, but can you afford to keep it rolling? Make sure you consider all additional costs such as repairs, maintenance, insurance and fuel before signing on the dotted line.