Luxury cars hold a lot of appeal to many people. They’re often beautiful to look at and make their occupants feel special with lavish interiors and improved comfort. And in the past decade or so, luxury cars have been extremely advanced in terms of technology.
Obviously, premium cars come with a hefty price tag so they’ll be comfortably out of reach for most people. However, what’s interesting to know is that used luxury cars are quite affordable. Too affordable in fact, and there are several good reasons for that.
In this article, you’ll read about how to buy a used car, and whether you really should buy a used luxury car.
Used Luxury Cars are Affordable, But There’s a Catch
Brand new, upmarket cars are very expensive. That’s because luxury cars tend to be on the upper echelon when it comes to automotive technology. Mercedes, BMW, and Audi spend significant amounts of money into R&D behind their latest and greatest flagship luxury cars.
It’s a fairly competitive car segment, and all the major players try to one-up each other by offering unique features. All of this obviously makes new luxury cars prohibitively expensive.
According to Carpages.ca, you’ll routinely find absolute bargains in the used market. It’s not uncommon to see a used Mercedes S Class selling for a fraction of what it cost new.
If an S500 for $10,000 sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. When someone buys a new luxury car, they don’t have to worry about stuff breaking down. If something on the car stops working, they can simply get it repaired or replaced under warranty.
However, when you buy a used premium car, you also assume full responsibility for bearing the cost of maintenance and repairs. And there are going to repair!
Used Luxury Cars are Expensive to Maintain
In order to stay competitive, luxury car manufacturers stuff their latest and greatest models with cutting edge technology. You would be amazed at how advanced even a 2003 model Mercedes S Class is. It’s full of little motors and electronics that are designed to keep the occupants in full comfort.
The downside to all this technical complexity is, well, complexity. Because upmarket cars are chock-full of technology and gadgets, you will have to assume the risk of these breaking down as the car ages.
What’s more, most luxury car owners will start to defer maintenance once the warranty period expires and they don’t have the option of getting the car services for free.
That’s when the problems begin, as deferred maintenance on luxury cars can have great consequences on their reliability in the long run.
Some Luxury Cars Age Better
Not all upmarket cars are created to the same quality standards. Any luxury car that you buy will require maintenance or repairs at some point. It’s just the nature of a technically complex machine to require more effort to keep it rolling.
However, some luxury cars are simply made better, and last longer even if they’re not maintained according to the user manual.
Lexus, for example, has a great track record when it comes to reliability and owner satisfaction. Lexus’s parent company Toyota is known for making cars that run forever with little maintenance.
Lexus cars are made to an even higher standard, so they last much longer than your typical Mercedes, BMW or Audi.
You can argue all day about Japanese versus German build quality, but simply check he used market of Japanese and German cars and you’ll see which ones hold their value better.
Luxury cars that require lots of expensive maintenance and upkeep will typically be cheaper to buy.
Buying a used luxury car is easy, maintaining it is the hard part. We’ve mentioned this point already, but we can’t emphasize enough how often these catches used luxury car owners off guard.
Firstly, your used luxury car is going to be expensive to insure. It doesn’t matter if you bought it for $3000, if it’s a German luxury car, it’s going to have expensive insurance. It’s also going to demand pricier premium gasoline because that advanced V8 it has simply won’t run well or reliably on regular gas.
Maintenance, of course, is going to be more expensive, but also time-sensitive, unlike your old Toyota Corolla. If you don’t address little problems in your upmarket cars, they’re going to compound into bigger, more expensive problems.
And you’ll be surprised at the replacement costs for something as little as a brake pad.
Put simply, you buy used luxury cars for the experience and how they make you feel, not how convenient they are to maintain.
Tips For Buying a Used Luxury Car
Now that you know all the necessary expectations before buying a used luxury car, it’s time to look at the process you should follow to actually buying one.
Stay Clear of Modified Luxury Cars
If the used luxury car you’re looking at has been modified in any way, especially the engine, stay well away from it. Upmarket cars are technically complex, and no mechanic is ever going to do a perfect job of modifying it.
Avoid Air Suspension
Air suspension is a great feature on luxury cars that have it, as it can make the ride much more comfortable. The thing is, air suspension repairs are eye-wateringly expensive. And these systems are prone to failure as the age of the car, so your best bet is to avoid a model that has it.
Have the Vehicle Scanned
Just because the dash of the car you want to buy doesn’t have any warning signals, doesn’t mean there aren’t expensive underlying repairs that are waiting for your wallet once you leave the dealership.
Get the vehicle you want to buy scanned with an advanced repair tool. You can ask the dealership technician to do this, but for complete peace of mind, we recommend bringing along your own trusted technician.
Have the Vehicle Inspected by a Mechanic You Trust
A pre-purchase inspection by a trustworthy mechanic will cost you about $100 but will save you thousands upon thousands in repair bills down the road. If the mechanic finds problems with the vehicle, point these out during sales negotiations.
Oh and remember, you can choose to walk away from the vehicle if there are too many problems.
So, Should You Buy a Used Luxury Car?
Our aim with this article was to provide as much insight into the used luxury car ownership experience as possible. The main takeaway is that it’s going to be more expensive than you expect, to maintain your premium car.
Acura and Lexus cars make more sense if you want reasonable ownership costs, whereas with something like a Mercedes S Class you’re guaranteed expensive repair bills.