I don't tend to keep vehicles for extraordinarily long periods of time -- I enjoy driving different cars. They're a hobby/passion for me and much more than simply a way to get from point A to point B.
Here's my vehicle breakdown- bold = still have:
'98 Toyota Corolla, paid $3k, drove for a few years and gifted to a family member
'86 Toyota MR2, paid $1k, drove for 3 years, sold for $1500
'98 Toyota Tacoma, paid $5k, drove for 3 years, frame rusted out and Toyota bought it back for $12,194.50 (!!)
'91 Toyota MR2 Turbo, paid $7k, spent a lot on, still have 6.5 years later (this is my toy, 260k+ miles).
'91 Toyota MR2 Turbo w/blown motor, paid $1k, didn't have time for the project, sold for $1200
'05 Toyota Tundra, bought 3 years old with 36k for $15,995, sold 3 years later for $13k (could have had $15,500 but I made a bad call on the sale, thought I could get more at the time as book was $19k)
'04 Subaru Forester XT, paid $7394, was a toy for ~18 months (performance parts installed which added some to the cost), sold for $8200
'02 Suzuki SV650, paid $500 (needed significant motor work, which I did myself, and paint, done by a buddy for a fair price), sold a couple of years later for $2100
'91 Toyota MR2 project, paid $1500, didn't have time for the project, sold for $1500 (after finding Toyota shop manuals inside..score!!)
'04 Cadillac CTS-V, paid $12k, drove for 2.5 years, sold for $13k
'99 Tacoma, paid $4500, likely selling next month for $5500. 282k miles.
'97 Lexus LX450, my trail/expedition rig, paid $7200 and for sale at $9000 now. 212k miles.
I am looking at consolidating my Tacoma and LX450 into one newer lower mileage vehicle (Lexus GX470). Tired of working on 'em all the time. :P
I like how you sold so many of these for more than you paid for them. Got any tips on how we can do the same?
I thought this was MY JOKE. Unless that sticker appeared before October 10 I'm suing Vanguard for ALL OF THEIR ASSETS. (Jk. Vanguard, if you're reading this, a few thousand shares of VTSAX will be fine.)
The joke's on you: Vanguard doesn't own any of its assets; it's owned by them.
I think the biggest thing that works in my favor is, since I own multiple vehicles and do repairs myself (I built the engine in my MR2 last year - there isn't much I won't do), I am never in a hurry to buy something. I decide well in advance of a purchase what it is I want, why I want it, and once I've decided I'll start looking around to see what's available. I don't generally buy unless it's a particularly good deal - and since I never "need" a vehicle ASAP I do not have to compromise.
I am also willing to travel:
Tundra purchased in ME when I lived in NH
$1000 MR2 purchased in NH when I lived in FL (was traveling up there for a family visit anyway), sold it in NJ (where I went to pick up my 2nd MR2, which I still own)
Subaru purchased in CT when I lived in NH (sold in AZ to a guy in OR, who paid me to do maintenance items first and then also to deliver it)
CTS-V bought/sold in AZ
LX450 bought in Reno, NV when I lived in AZ
Current Tacoma bought/sold in state (verbal agreement, just waiting for me to pick up my next truck). It needed some work when I bought it (tires, a tie rod end, and steering rack bushings)
My next vehicle may get me punched by some (2007 Lexus GX470), but it was a careful deliberation and a compromise of the offroad ability of my LX450, the fuel economy of the Tacoma (abysmal by MMM standards, but perfectly adequate for me), comfort for long trips (my SO and I spent a week and 1560 miles going through Baja, Mexico last week), size for expedition trips (we camped in the truck most nights and are planning additional longer trips in the future), offroad ability for said trips and also for weekend adventures in Arizona, and reliability (Lexus/Toyota with 103k miles, vs the 212,9xx and 282k I have now). :) My purchase price for this one is $4k under retail (per my credit union), $1k under KBB for 'good' condition, and it has an extremely rare option that is almost impossible to find (suspension package for improved on and off road performance).
I think many people walk into a dealer and go 'I need a car', and then pick something out there after falling for the "How much do you want to spend per month?" trap. Decide on what you want ahead of time, even if it involves multiple test drives (that said, almost, if not every vehicle I purchased was the first one I looked at, because I knew exactly what I wanted). Know what you should pay
- not just book value, but if it's a niche market vehicle (everything I drive has an enthusiast following - I do not buy 'appliance-cars' because they do not satisfy my personal goals for a vehicle), check message forums as well and see what vehicles are going for.
Depending on your plans for the vehicle, waiting for the right one can also save you a lot of money in other ways. The LX450 (also known as an 80-series Toyota LandCruiser) I bought has about $10k in aftermarket parts (lift, offroad armor, winch, etc) that I didn't have to pay for because it was already on the truck when I bought it. If I were to have saved $1000 on the truck and then built it for offroad/expedition purposes, I'd have spent twice as much. You have to be careful buying modified vehicles (a lot of people do a poor job), but if done properly you can save a lot of money.
Also, be flexible. I wanted a Subaru WRX wagon when I lived in northern NH. As a car enthusiast I wanted something fast/fun to drive in the winter because I couldn't drive the MR2 (mid engine RWD with power, plus snow - bad idea). However, I wanted 2006+ because that's when they started the 2.5l engine, instead of the 2.0l used in 2004-2005. But - guess what? The Forester XT came with the 2.5l in 2004, was also available with a 5 speed manual, was even better for utilitarian purposes (larger inside), and it was cheaper than a WRX!
Score! So, I bought the FXT instead of a WRX. :)
- Be patient!
- Negotiate pricing - most people will work with you. I talked my way into $140 in travel reimbursement for my pending purchase.
- Don't be sucked in by car dealers. My stepdad walked out on a dealer because they wouldn't meet his price - sure enough, we weren't even in the truck yet before they ran out after us saying they'd work it out
- If you are mechanically inclined (and even if you're not), do your research on common problems. You might find a hybrid that is being sold dirt cheap because it needs a $300 battery part. You also might find a deal that looks too good to be true, because of a common flaw in the model (for example, the high pressure fuel pump in some BMW 335i's, IMS bearing on certain Porsche models, flaky auto transmissions in some Hondas)
- Sell private party - avoid trading in to a dealer! Remember that dealers have to make money, and they do that partially by taking used cars and selling them for more than they paid. How are you going to get the best deal when they're doing it to make money themselves? There are exceptions - my Subaru and Tundra were from dealers - but these exceptions are not very common.