How New Should a Used Car Be?

Buying a brand new car can often be pretty expensive, which is why many people are choosing to get a pre-owned four-wheeler instead. Considering a vehicle is one of the most valuable assets you can own, how new should a used car be to make it a worthwhile purchase?

A used car should be about two to three years old, as this will allow you to save a ton of money on an almost brand new four-wheeler. It should also have low mileage, as cars typically start experiencing problems around the 100,000-mile mark.

Buying a pre-owned car has many advantages, such as lower prices and cheaper insurance coverage. However, make sure you consider all the pros and cons before making the purchase.

A Used Car Should Be Less Than Three Years Old

If you’re planning on buying a pre-owned car, it’s best that you look for vehicles that are two to three years old. Purchasing a barely used four-wheeler will not only save you a massive amount of money, but you’ll also be getting a car that’s essentially still relatively new.

Unless you’re keen on purchasing one of the newer models, getting a five-year-old car is also a great idea, especially if you’re in a difficult financial situation. These cars are still in fairly good shape so that you won’t have to pay a ton of cash on repairs and maintenance.

Since the car’s production date doesn’t always give a complete picture of its current state, it’s also crucial to consider its mileage. Generally speaking, the 100,000-mile mark is typically the spot when cars start to experience technical problems.

While these can still be a good investment for the right price, even the newer models succumb to wear and tear after crossing the 200,000-mile mark. Simply put, it’s best to get a relatively new car with lower mileage.

Are There Any Advantages to Buying Used Cars Besides the Lower Price?

Getting a used vehicle has several benefits, which is why it’s an excellent choice for anyone who can’t afford to buy one of the brand-new cars. Besides being much more affordable than the newest models that hit the market, these vehicles are still in excellent condition, making them a good purchase in general.

A Used Car Has a Much Slower Depreciation

Besides the lower price point, another thing that makes old cars a good purchase is the slower depreciation. On the contrary, a brand new four-wheeler will immediately lose about 10% of its original value as soon as it leaves the car dealership lot. Some vehicles will have 60% lower prices after just five years.

Depreciation is not the same for all vehicles, though, as its rate will mainly depend on the car model. For example, expensive luxury sports cars typically have higher depreciation rates, as their buyers usually want to get their hands on the newest models right away.

A reliable vehicle is a valuable asset, so the value of the models typically decreases slower. That’s why it’s always a great idea to invest in an old car like a Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Wrangler, or Nissan Frontier.

On the contrary, four-wheelers that were recalled or have a high maintenance cost will typically lose their value much more quickly, so it’s best to avoid them. For a better comparison, take a look at the table below to see how much an average car would cost after being used.

Original PriceAfter Two to Three YearsAfter Five Years

It’s Much Cheaper to Buy Insurance for an Older Auto

Another reason why pre-owned cars are significantly more affordable than new ones is the cheaper car insurance. While dealerships will typically require you to buy full insurance coverage for their most current models, you often won’t have to pay a ton of money to insure an older car.

What to Check Before Buying Used Vehicles

Whether you intend to buy a car that’s two or ten years old, it’s essential to do your due diligence and learn everything you can about the vehicle. If you’re not sure what needs to be done, remember to always perform a proper checkup before buying a car. This means you will have to:

  • Check and compare vehicle history – Going through all of the paperwork will tell you everything you need to know about a car, like whether it was involved in any accidents or who was its previous owner. If there’s an open recall on it, the problem with the vehicle was not addressed, meaning you will have to pay for all the repairs if you purchase it.
  • Schedule an independent inspection – Before putting your name on the dotted line, you have to make sure that the car is actually functional. While a typical maintenance inspection should cost around $50-$100, it will tell you exactly how much work was done on the four-wheeler and if any repairs will be needed in the future.
  • Take the car for a test drive – Another great way to see whether a specific four-wheeler is a good choice for you is to take it for a test run. This will allow you to check the vehicle’s overall performance, allowing you to spot any potential problems right away.

Consider the Price of Maintenance Before Buying or Leasing an Old Car

While an older car might be much more affordable, remember to take into account the cost of maintenance before you decide to get one. While you’ll need about $350 on average to repair a five-year-old car, a 10-year-old four-wheeler might cost you up to $600.

More importantly, an older vehicle will also typically suffer a major problem more often. While a five-year-old car might require serious repairs every three years, a ten-year one will experience issues twice as often, or more precisely, once every eighteen to twenty months.

Negotiating Is Crucial if You Want to Buy a Used Car

Although the value of pre-owned cars drops as time goes by, you can also lower the price further by your negotiating skills. While you won’t significantly reduce the costs on some more popular models, you should still have some room to negotiate. Try to make an offer that’s 15-25% lower than the initial price and go from there. Even if you get the dealer to lower the costs by just 5%, it’s worth it.