Author Topic: Used Car Buying  (Read 1250 times)

SavinMaven

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Used Car Buying
« on: February 14, 2021, 07:53:47 AM »
We have to add a car in the next two months, and I'm looking at a-few-year-old cars that have already taken a depreciation hit.

Sometimes it's obvious when a car has been well cared for - clean, smells nice, etc. - and of course we can run it past a mechanic. But my question is - is there a mileage under which major problems caused by the previous owner would be unlikely? i.e. can you really mess up a car in just 15k, or 20k, or what-have-you?

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2021, 12:55:45 AM »
I'm sure someone could mess up a new car in a few thousand miles if they tried. Surely you've heard the phrase 'the fastest car in the world is a rental car'?

With something that new the risk would be more whether it's a lemon from new and they're trying to offload it. Especially with newer versions of vehicles, the common issues often aren't known yet.

RWD

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2021, 08:14:01 AM »
Under 10k is pretty safe. After that they might have skipped ever doing an oil change which would start becoming problematic. But if they have receipts for oil changes then that isn't really a concern. If it's a manual transmission car they could have misshifted and overrevved the motor which you can't tell with service records (though on some cars you can pull a report from the onboard computer that will tell you how many times that has happened). Really the best thing to do if you are worried is get a third-party PPI. Then the mileage won't matter, just the objective current condition of the vehicle. I've bought quite a few vehicles with over 100k miles and the mileage itself was never the cause of problems I had with the cars. Age, prior accident damage, and operating environment played a much bigger role.

bearcat1

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2021, 09:13:42 AM »
Under 10k is pretty safe. After that they might have skipped ever doing an oil change which would start becoming problematic. But if they have receipts for oil changes then that isn't really a concern. If it's a manual transmission car they could have misshifted and overrevved the motor which you can't tell with service records (though on some cars you can pull a report from the onboard computer that will tell you how many times that has happened). Really the best thing to do if you are worried is get a third-party PPI. Then the mileage won't matter, just the objective current condition of the vehicle. I've bought quite a few vehicles with over 100k miles and the mileage itself was never the cause of problems I had with the cars. Age, prior accident damage, and operating environment played a much bigger role.

What does PPI mean? Google isn't helping here... is this like the Carfax report? I may be used-car shopping soon...

draco44

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2021, 09:20:52 AM »
pre-purchase inspection (PPI)

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2021, 09:27:43 AM »
We have to add a car in the next two months, and I'm looking at a-few-year-old cars that have already taken a depreciation hit.

Sometimes it's obvious when a car has been well cared for - clean, smells nice, etc. - and of course we can run it past a mechanic. But my question is - is there a mileage under which major problems caused by the previous owner would be unlikely? i.e. can you really mess up a car in just 15k, or 20k, or what-have-you?

I can't speak for the mileage, but I spent 4k on a used Honda van (I think 150k or so mileage if I remember correctly) that I felt extremely comfortable with because of the oil change records (through a dealership, not even handwritten) and general upkeep that was evident on it. It has been one of our best purchases ever. We've had virtually no trouble out of it for probably another 80k or so. We tend to buy all of our cars on the older side and look at the record of upkeep and the statistics on how that brand has been reliability-wise, and we haven't been disappointed yet. One day we will, I'm sure. We're buying 120k minimum mileage used cars. However, we're putting so little money in them that we can afford to scrap one ourselves if we miss something that is crazy expensive and buy another one for what we've saved so far.

RWD

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2021, 11:28:34 AM »
Under 10k is pretty safe. After that they might have skipped ever doing an oil change which would start becoming problematic. But if they have receipts for oil changes then that isn't really a concern. If it's a manual transmission car they could have misshifted and overrevved the motor which you can't tell with service records (though on some cars you can pull a report from the onboard computer that will tell you how many times that has happened). Really the best thing to do if you are worried is get a third-party PPI. Then the mileage won't matter, just the objective current condition of the vehicle. I've bought quite a few vehicles with over 100k miles and the mileage itself was never the cause of problems I had with the cars. Age, prior accident damage, and operating environment played a much bigger role.

What does PPI mean? Google isn't helping here... is this like the Carfax report? I may be used-car shopping soon...

Ah, sorry. Yes, it is pre-purchase inspection as mentioned by @draco44 .  This is where you take the vehicle to a third-party mechanic and they give it a full investigation to see what might be wrong with it. Good to call the mechanic ahead to make sure they are available to do it. You'll be expected to pay for the inspection, whether or not you buy the car. But it can save you from some catastrophic scenarios.

KarefulKactus15

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2021, 01:02:11 PM »
Around 30-55k miles is the sweet used spot.

Vehicles failures follow the bathtub curve opposite the bell curve.   High failures in the beginning, defects from factory and warranty work etc etc, then high failure end of life.  I call that 150k. (Even though I've had cars into the 220s no problem)

http://livingstingy.blogspot.com/2010/08/bathtub-or-weibull-curve.html?m=1


chemistk

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2021, 01:40:21 PM »
The state of a used car is also highly dependent on the type of car it is, and what climate it comes from, among other things.

The nature of advice given definitely also varies with the mileage and price range you're looking for.

Usually, most cars under 35k are either lease trade-ins or former rentals. In both cases, you can expect that major maintenance and recall work was done, and that service records will be available. It's not 100% the case, but it's at least enough of the majority that you can shift your mindset to that.

The downside to the sub-35k is that, as others said, you never know if something happened that wasn't caught by routine maintenance. Especially true in the case of rental cars (but let's be honest here, most rentals are just used to shuttle corporate travelers from the airport to the jobsite/hotel).

Most of the sub-35k examples will be relatively clean and smell nice and most of the major components will be in near-factory working order (suspension, steering, usually brakes, etc.) so a test drive will only suss out the absolute worst cars for sale, but chances are those 'worst' ones are going to hover near the bottom of the comps.

The advice really starts to deviate once you get over the 60-70k mark, that's where the average used car buyer will really be able to tell the difference between a poorly maintained vs. a well maintained car.


bearcat1

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2021, 06:59:26 PM »
@Kroaler , "the bathtub curve," haha, never heard it called that but it makes sense! My current car, I got at 62K, that was 14 years ago and it's now pushing 195K so it's probably getting up there. I kinda say I want to make it to 200K just because that'd be cool, but as little driving as I'm doing this year, that could be another year...

Definitely will be looking for something in the 40-70K mile range, I tend to look at miles more than years, IDK if that's always wise... A few years ago I came across this Used car checklist/video https://www.chris-fix.com/upload/How%20to%20Inspect%20a%20Used%20Car%20Checklist%20%20FULL.pdf from my favorite auto Youtube guy, I don't know if I know how to check all those things myself, would have to ask a mechanic for some, but it's a good checklist to have! Anybody else have any checklists or guideance?


cool7hand

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2021, 05:58:24 AM »
+1 on the importance of reviewing service records when buying from a private party. Even if they hide one unlucky service for something serious, the fact that oil is changed and dealer recommended service is followed shows that they took care of the vehicle.

+1 on the sweet spot being between 30,000 to 50,000 and under 150,000

HotTubes

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Re: Used Car Buying
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2021, 11:13:41 AM »
I'm a fan of looking at rentals - Enterprise, et al, will have occasional sales where they have solid reductions.  If those cars don't sell they will eventually be sold to dealerships that will mark them up drastically.

Look at the vehicle history of Car Max cars; many former rentals there.

If you want to go lower maybe find a person who knows their way around an auction and give them a budget.