Many luxury cars that were prohibitively expensive when new will see their resale value drop by a large figure in just a couple of years. A motor vehicle that you couldn’t buy for under 6 figures when new may be available in the used car market for a fraction of its original cost. If you are really lucky, you could even buy the car for the same amount as the original owner paid in tax.
And the good thing about high-end cars is that they still look pretty good after years of use. Since their first owners are often affluent, they are well taken care of and not subjected to the rougher treatment of more regular vehicles. So you get a car that’s head-turning but without the eye-popping cost it would ordinarily come with.
But that can only happen if you know the tricks for getting a great used luxury vehicle deal. Here are a couple of useful tips in that regard.
Investigate the Car’s History
Firstly, luxury cars are usually well-maintained by their first owners but there are always exceptions to the rule. Secondly, you may be the 3rd (or 4th, or 5th etc.) owner and the ones that preceded you may not have been as careful as they should. Thirdly, certain things that happen to the car are beyond the owner’s control (such as accidents).
All these are reasons you’d want to investigate the vehicle’s history. Start by asking for its service records. If these aren’t available, that’s a red flag. Next, run a VIN check (check out VINCheck.info here) to see any towing and impounding events, sales history, theft check, manufacturer defects and recalls, warranties and fuel efficiency.
The modern luxury car has more high-tech electronic gadgets than mechanical devices. It’s fitted with numerous computers, controllers, modules and sensors that keep everything running smoothly. While such computerisation makes the car efficient and intelligent, they can also be expensive to fix when they fail.
To be certain you aren’t buying a money pit, get a dealer technician to run a comprehensive diagnostic scan on the vehicle. A diagnostic scan is fast and cheap but can unearth hidden problems that could otherwise drain your savings.
Perform a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI)
Get the relevant dealer to perform a PPI on the car. A trained technician who has experience working with that model will physically inspect the car for any overt and latent issues. A PPI typically costs $100 but can identify thousands of dollars’ worth of future repair pain.
If any undeclared problems are found during the PPI, make it known to the seller and have it factored into the pricing negotiations. You can probably afford to buy an ordinary used car without a PPI. However, doing so for a luxury car is only setting yourself up for expensive problems in the future.
Steer Clear of Air Suspensions
Air suspension substantially improves a car’s driving comfort. However, air suspension has gained notoriety not just for its relatively high risk of failure but also the astronomical costs that are associated with fixing it.
Many top-line vehicles come equipped with air suspension. Avoid used luxury cars with such a suspension system as it’s prone to leaks, fails and ageing-related wear and tear. If you must buy a used luxury car with air suspension, consider obtaining extended warranty cover to shield you from future repair costs.
Beware of After-Market Modifications
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Perhaps nowhere does this hold true more than for luxury cars. After-market modifications may make an average car look pretty cool. You can’t say the same for high-end vehicles. So if the top-tier car you’re interested in has seen extensive modifications, you are well advised to skip it.
Thinking about turbocharging a car to increase its engine power, suspension modifications that reduce the car’s ground clearance, or the fitting of oversized wheels? Not only do such changes take away the classy demeanour of a luxury car, but they also introduce mechanical problems that will only become apparent long after you’ve signed a purchase contract. Worse still, such modifications may void any warranties.
Owning a luxury vehicle is an exciting prospect. The prestigious badges, swoopy lines and glossy paints are a loud but non-verbal statement of the owner’s stature. Follow the tips above to make sure your used luxury car purchase is worth it.