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Old 03-21-2006, 03:21 PM   #1
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New or used car if it's to be driven little?

I have a general question. I was talking about this with my wife.

If you saw yourself driving a car only ~5K miles a year, and needed to replace your current car for whatever reason, does it make more sense (in any or every way) to buy new, or buy used because you wont ever really get the car to really high mileage?

In our case, we were discussing what would replace the 9-2X if we needed something larger and the options were a new (or almost) new Outback LL Bean, or a 2001-2002 E320 E320 4Matic wagon with say 40K miles.
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Old 03-21-2006, 03:46 PM   #2
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well, I just did this and I initially wanted to find a used car, but I couldn't find one to fit my wants and needs, but I found a brand new one with the options I wanted at a good price, so I bought new.
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Old 03-21-2006, 04:00 PM   #3
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It doesn't just depend on how many miles you'll put on, but how you'll put them on. If it's only going to used for trips to Montreal with your wife a couple times a year, and expect to own it for five years, A new car might be nicer. If you're only going to use it to commute (particularly a very short commute), and expect to own/use it for an indeterminate amount of time, buying something old and used (not a late model "previously owned" car) probably makes more sense. If by "needed something larger" it means an occasional Home Depot run, you may as well make it an older Ranger or other compact truck. If larger means something to accomodate a child and lots of crap on the trips to Montreal, that's something different.
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Old 03-21-2006, 04:00 PM   #4
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Well, to be fair you should compare new versus used of the same model car. That way, the "appeal" and "meet-my-needs" factors don't really come into play. Sure, there are always changes between model years, bu for the sake of argument, let's assume they don't exist.

Making the above assumptions, you'd want to compare total cost of ownership. The major component of cost of ownership is depreciation. Depreciation is itself based on two components, age (time held) and mileage.

Mileage contributes to depreciation pretty much the same regardless of whether a car is new or older. However, age impacts a new car's depreciation much more than it does an older car. As we all know, the biggest hit occurs when a new car becomes no longer new. But three years at the beginning of a car's life will yield a much greater depreciation amount than the same three years on a three year old car.

So, overall, the cost per year will be lower on an older car assuming you don't also incur other expenses on the older car that you wouldn't need to incur on the newer car. Namely repairs and maintenance.

This is where the amount you intend to drive comes in. All things being equal, a car driven only a little will require less maintenance (on average) than a car driven a lot.

So, I'd have to speculate that, in your described situation, the older car would be cheaper. Assuming you can find what you want used and in good condition.
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Old 03-21-2006, 04:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clyde
It doesn't just depend on how many miles you'll put on, but how you'll put them on. If it's only going to used for trips to Montreal with your wife a couple times a year, and expect to own it for five years, A new car might be nicer. If you're only going to use it to commute (particularly a very short commute), and expect to own/use it for an indeterminate amount of time, buying something old and used (not a late model "previously owned" car) probably makes more sense. If by "needed something larger" it means an occasional Home Depot run, you may as well make it an older Ranger or other compact truck. If larger means something to accomodate a child and lots of crap on the trips to Montreal, that's something different.
It's all of the above.

Well, it would be cool to have a used, POS Tacoma/Ranger to commute the couple of miles I need to and use as a utilitarian truck AND have a nicer new family wagon, but I think I'm better of with a slightly used wagon and towing a small utility trailer when I need the extra capacity (in fact, I'm considering doing that now with the 9-2X).

Whatever "nice performance car" we have (currently the 330i, who knows what in the future) will likely become a weekend/back-up car. So the wagon/SUV/whatever has to pretty much take care of everything else. Unless, again, I get a true POS compact truck as a 3rd car.
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Old 03-21-2006, 04:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TD
Well, to be fair you should compare new versus used of the same model car. That way, the "appeal" and "meet-my-needs" factors don't really come into play. Sure, there are always changes between model years, bu for the sake of argument, let's assume they don't exist.

Making the above assumptions, you'd want to compare total cost of ownership. The major component of cost of ownership is depreciation. Depreciation is itself based on two components, age (time held) and mileage.

Mileage contributes to depreciation pretty much the same regardless of whether a car is new or older. However, age impacts a new car's depreciation much more than it does an older car. As we all know, the biggest hit occurs when a new car becomes no longer new. But three years at the beginning of a car's life will yield a much greater depreciation amount than the same three years on a three year old car.

So, overall, the cost per year will be lower on an older car assuming you don't also incur other expenses on the older car that you wouldn't need to incur on the newer car. Namely repairs and maintenance.

This is where the amount you intend to drive comes in. All things being equal, a car driven only a little will require less maintenance (on average) than a car driven a lot.

So, I'd have to speculate that, in your described situation, the older car would be cheaper. Assuming you can find what you want used and in good condition.
That is pretty damn close to exactly the point I made to my wife. A new E-Wagon at $50K+ really is silly at this point, hence the Outback option being compared to a used E-wagon, both at ~$30K. I'd consider an older E-wagon, but other higher-mileage items start needing attention and pre 2001 wagons seem much more unreliable than 2001+ wagons.
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Fernando
That is pretty damn close to exactly the point I made to my wife. A new E-Wagon at $50K+ really is silly at this point, hence the Outback option being compared to a used E-wagon, both at ~$30K. I'd consider an older E-wagon, but other higher-mileage items start needing attention and pre 2001 wagons seem much more unreliable than 2001+ wagons.
making a rational car decision is just silly, man.



just get the one that makes you smile when you drive it because that is the one that will be worth it. practical never made anyone 'happy'. practical in car terms means lot of rationalizing in lieu of actual driving fun and validation in the form of Consumer Reports, if that beats the drum for you.
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Old 03-21-2006, 11:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemming
making a rational car decision is just silly, man.



just get the one that makes you smile when you drive it because that is the one that will be worth it. practical never made anyone 'happy'. practical in car terms means lot of rationalizing in lieu of actual driving fun and validation in the form of Consumer Reports, if that beats the drum for you.
True. I just need to get my wife to agree.
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Old 03-22-2006, 10:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemming
making a rational car decision is just silly, man.



just get the one that makes you smile when you drive it because that is the one that will be worth it. practical never made anyone 'happy'. practical in car terms means lot of rationalizing in lieu of actual driving fun and validation in the form of Consumer Reports, if that beats the drum for you.
I kind of disagree... I agree that over-rationalization of car purchases is bordering on self-deception. However, impractical can be unhappy. Not all of us live in wide open spaces and can have more than one car. There can be such a thing as too impractical, for me a 911 was that.
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Old 03-22-2006, 10:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by equ
I kind of disagree... I agree that over-rationalization of car purchases is bordering on self-deception. However, impractical can be unhappy. Not all of us live in wide open spaces and can have more than one car. There can be such a thing as too impractical, for me a 911 was that.
Well, yeah. There are limits. One has to be practical "enough" so that your life is not hampered on a daily basis. But to lemming's point, one can be overly practical and sacrifice pleasure.

As always, moderation is key.
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