If you’re shopping for a vehicle, the price will inevitably be one of your main concerns. So the natural solution is to go on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, sort their available cars by price, and pick the cheapest option, right?
This method will easily connect you with car deals that look too good to be true. And… well, that’s because they are too good to be true. Even if you think you’re saving thousands of dollars on a cheap car with a bit of damage, you could be setting yourself up for more long term spending overall. Let’s go over the reasons why.
First is the obvious culprit: repairs. Used vehicles will inevitably require more maintenance than new vehicles, but the extent of those repairs will vary. For example, a check engine light here and there is worlds apart from a transmission failure. And chances are, a vehicle being offered at a heavily discounted price is more prone to those major problems. You could wind up spending two or three times more on repairs than you will on buying the vehicle alone.
Even if you pour serious cash into repairs, the payoff might not be worth it. Vehicles that are already in rough shape can be fixed to a certain extent, but they could wind up inoperable in only a few years. Meanwhile, a new or slightly used car can easily last for a decade with basic care and regular maintenance. You might not pay as much for that cheap vehicle, but you’ll get way less value and use out of it.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that you do get a super cheap vehicle that somehow costs less per year to own than a newer vehicle. You’ll still wind up paying for that vehicle with your time. Frequent visits to the mechanic are never a good thing, especially when you don’t know when they’ll turn up. You don’t want your speedometer failing on a long road trip, and you can’t afford engine problems when you’re already late for work. Time is your most valuable resource, and a bad vehicle can eat up hours that you could have otherwise avoided.
And of course, we come to the most important issue: safety. All of the above scenarios can quickly turn dangerous in the wrong circumstances. Studies show that newer vehicles are significantly safer than those from a decade ago, and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of those statistics. If you want a vehicle that you can rely on to keep you safe, you don’t want to pick the cheapest option available.
In truth, ultra cheap vehicles can be fun toys for seasoned mechanics to tinker with and fix up themselves. But if you’re just a regular driver who wants a good vehicle at a price you can afford, you might not realize all the options that are available to you. Even if you think you can only afford the cheapest vehicle available, if you work with a professional salesperson (like me), you could wind up driving a vehicle that makes you infinitely happier at a lower monthly price than what you’d wind up spending anyway!
As scary as buying a new vehicle can feel, you’ll have a lot more fun once you’re looking at contemporary vehicles that you can still comfortably afford. And when the car you do select will keep you safe for years to come, you’ll rest easy knowing you made a great decision.