Is it that time again? Time to go out, slog through endless car lots, talk to dozens of questionable salesmen, and eventually take the plunge buying something that you HOPE will be what you are looking for and not break down the day after coverage expires.
Or maybe not. These days, people haven’t realized how much technology can help you. Really the best strategy is to pick the car online, and then go and set up a limited quantity of test drives in an afternoon so as not to waste your time.
But it needs to be done right. It’s really important as anything to understand how cars work, and especially how a car’s depreciation curve works.
Depreciation curves are exponential, but work in reverse. There is the famous saying that a new car loses around 30% of its value the moment you drive it off the lot, and it’s very true. From there, in the first 2-3 years it’s driven, it loses most of the rest of its value, then settles in a certain price range.
The trick is to buy cars at that certain sweet spot, once it’s not losing any major value with the miles any longer, that is to say, at the spot where the depreciation has slowed to something negligible.
People need to realize, it’s true that older cars require much more repairs. But these repairs can be taken care of cheaply and don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. People pay for the convenience of not having to worry (too much, although there is always something with any car) about these things, and the truth is, they pay a rather large amount for this convenience.
Going the other route isn’t one hundred percent easy, but it is by far the cheaper route out of all of them. You must have a trusted mechanic, actually, it’s best to have more than one and bounce around between them, for various reasons. It takes patience, and it’s better if you read up about that thing you depend upon so heavily to get from A to B, and learn about how it actually works under the hood and under the undercarriage.
You will reach a point where the car is so well-maintained that in many ways it’ll almost be like having a new car. Just make sure the engine and the transmission are in good condition; everything else is worth replacing in just about any car.