Thurston Car Talk: Buying Used Vehicles


Submitted by Bron at Bron’s Automotive

Are you debating between purchasing a used vehicle or a new one?  Studies have consistently shown that owning a used vehicle is less expensive on a cost per mile basis than purchasing a new one.  This of course takes into consideration a lot of factors, from the monthly payments on the new car to the higher cost of collision insurance.  It also factors in the different amounts of sales tax paid in each case.  Remember also that even if you have a new vehicle, there are maintenance services that have to be done.

My personal favorite tactic for years has been to purchase a good used vehicle that has from 50,000 to 80,000 miles on it.  Depreciation, which happens the minute you drive a new car off the showroom floor, has made this mileage car much more affordable, and if it has been maintained properly, it usually has a lot of life left in it before any nasty repairs start popping up.  You can figure on the next 100,000 miles having a few repairs and maintenance in them, but the sum total will be quite a bit less than the ownership costs of a new vehicle.

Many folks are afraid of buying a used vehicle for fear of ending up with a “lemon”, and this is valid.  The way to avoid this is to always have a good technician perform a used car evaluation.  Also ask for the car’s service records to verify that the appropriate maintenance has been done, and walk away if there are no records.

We bought my wife’s car at 85,000 miles and have performed the maintenance services that I also recommend to my customers.  It is now up to almost 180,000 miles on it with only two major unexpected  repairs, ball joints and an air conditioning compressor.  We expect many more miles of relatively inexpensive cruising from this car.  If you do elect to purchase a new car, we can show you how to get the most miles out of it and lower the cost per mile over it’s life.

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