If you’ve been careful with your finances and decided that you’re able to spend at least $30,000 on your next car, a viable option is to purchase a used luxury vehicle. For a fraction of its original value, it’s possible to own a car that performs significantly better than its non-luxury counterparts. Luxury cars are designed for maximum comfort and have thoughtful details that put them leagues ahead of your average beater.
There are many benefits to owning a used luxury car but you should be aware of the downsides before jumping into the luxury car market. While these drawbacks aren’t always serious enough to dissuade a determined buyer, it’s important to be careful when spending large sums of money and to be as informed as possible about what the future of your luxury car ownership may entail.
With that in mind, here are some of the pros and cons of buying a used luxury car.
Even when used, luxury cars are much nicer than standard vehicles. They were built in ways that justify the original price point. The interior is often made from high-end materials, designed so both driver and passengers feel they’ve entered an elegant space. The engine is typically much more powerful than a standard vehicle’s, designed for maximum performance that, in practical terms, makes the car more capable of handling dangerous conditions or situations on the road. You should search any prospective used luxury vehicles on government databases like IIHS and NHTSA to see how its safety compares to other vehicles.
While some used luxury cars have been driven into the ground, a large number of them are used lease returns. In these cases, the previous owner has kept the car in good, working condition, and the benefits pass on to you. The first owner of any vehicle took a large depreciation hit—the minute they drove off the lot, their vehicle became a used car and dropped significantly in value. When you buy used, the largest drop in depreciation has already occurred, and the value of the vehicle will remain relatively consistent. If you’re trying to save money, this fact alone might make buying used a wiser option.
Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) luxury cars are also worth looking into, meaning they’ve passed a multipoint inspection and typically come with extended warranties. If, for example, you’re looking for a used Audi near Timonium, you might consider going to your local Audi dealership asking about their CPO options. In the long run, CPO cars tend to run better and are better protected from high insurance costs.
A drawback to owning a used luxury car is the amount of maintenance typically required. Because they’re older vehicles, they’ve usually racked up a large amount of miles, which means you need to take them in for regular checkups to ensure that everything is running like it should. These maintenance trips also tend to be more expensive, simply because luxury cars require more care than standard vehicles.
When something does go wrong, luxury cars are also much more expensive to repair. The cost for both parts and labor is higher, although exactly how high varies from model to model. If you’re trying to be thrifty with your money, this might be a major downside that could end up costing you in the long run.
Prospective owners of a used luxury car also need to be prepared for higher gas prices. On the whole, cars with large, powerful engines are less fuel-efficient than those of standard vehicles, and every time they’re at the pump they require premium gas. If you’re curious about the fuel economy of the vehicle you’re interested in, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s fuel economy database for more information and ways to save money on gas.
Finally, owning a used luxury car means that, compared with the newest iteration of the vehicle, it probably won’t come equipped with state of the art technology. Every year, the technology used in cars leaps forward, so a navigation screen that seemed handy in 2011 might have aged poorly and seem extremely outdated in 2018. Beyond that, many of the options that you might have found desirable about the vehicle might not come with the specific car you find. If this is a concern, consider expanding your search area for the used luxury car you’re looking for.