How old of a used car should I buy?

Apart from buying a house, the next biggest investment you will probably ever make is to buy a car. Whether new or old, you need to consider many things to land the best car. If you intend to buy a used car, considering the age is vital, but it’s not everything.

Generally, there is no valid answer for how old of a used car you should buy. This is because it depends on the car’s make and model, and how the owner has maintained it. Nonetheless, it’s still better to buy a car that’s only 2 to 3 years old, rather than buying a car that is over 5 years old.

As cars get older, their issues also increase. For instance, there is a high chance that a car that only has 50,000 miles on it to have fewer problems than a car that has put on over 200,000 miles. As the car ages, you will be required to deal with issues like brakes, gearboxes, tires, and batteries more frequently.

If you’re looking for a quality old used car, there are two things that you should consider. The first one is depreciation and the second one value and reliability.

When is the best time to buy an old car when it comes to depreciation?

The main reason why people opt to buy used cars is that they want to save some money. Yes, buying a used car is cheaper than buying a new car. But how does depreciation determine what old used car is best for you?

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The truth is that age reduces the value of cars. Therefore, the older the car, the cheaper it becomes. If you want a used car with the latest features, you should opt for a car that has been used for less than 3 years. But if you want to save more money, you can go for a car that’s more than 5 years old.

In short, the higher the depreciation, the lower the price, and the lower the depreciation, the higher the price. Cars lose a lot of depreciation in the first year and it reduces greatly as they age. It’s estimated that cars lose up to 75% depreciation in the first year, followed by 60%, then 50%, and so on.

When is the best time to buy an old car when it comes to value and reliability? 

Aside from depreciation, you can also buy an old car by considering its value and reliability. Cars lose their value as they age. This is because they develop more problems, which makes them more expensive to maintain. Therefore, they become unreliable as they get older.

If you want a reliable old used car, you should avoid buying a car that’s more than 5 years old. Instead, you should buy a car that’s 2 to 3 years old and sell it again after 3 years of use. If you buy an extremely old car, you will have to deal with several challenges due to wear and tear.

FAQ about buying a used car

What should I consider when buying a used car – mileage or age?

Neither of the above. The most important thing to consider when buying a used car is its reliability history and the state of the car. Go to the internet and search the model’s history. If it’s a reliable car, you won’t have to worry about its mileage or age as much.

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However, a car can be a reliable model, but with a bad owner. So, also check its history, which will determine if the car has had many repairs and maintenance. You should never buy a used car based on its years or mileage covered alone. This is very misleading and you could end up with a bad car.

Why are used cars cheap?

Used cars are cheaper because cars depreciate quickly. As the car gets older, its value also reduces significantly. However, most used cars are costly to maintain and repair as they get older. So, even though the car is cheap, it may be expensive to maintain in the long run.

How do I choose a quality used car?

Buying a used car can save you tons of money, but finding a quality used car is not easy. Here are the things that you should consider to land a quality used car:

  • Inspect the vehicle carefully – The state of the car is crucial. If you want the used car to last a long time, you should check its engine and look at the interior and body of the car.
  • Have the car checked out by a professional mechanic – Even after checking out the car by yourself, you should hire a professional mechanic to properly inspect it.
  • Do a test drive – Get a feel for the car by taking it out for a test drive. A test drive will help you to figure out what’s working and what isn’t working.
  • Go through the repair history of the car – Get the license plate number and VIN of the car you intend to purchase. Go through its repair history and to learn about the issues that the car has dealt with.
  • Find out the market value – after determining whether the car is ideal for you or not, look at the market. Kelly Blue Book has tools to help you get the value of any car.
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Is it worth it to buy a 5-year-old car?

It depends on the model and state of the vehicle. If the vehicle model is reliable and well-maintained, then there is no problem buying a car that’s 5 years old. But if the car model has below-average reliability, this would be a huge risk as you may end up paying more in maintenance and repair costs.

What is the best age and mileage for a used car?

There is no best age and mileage for a used car. A good used car should be well-maintained and reliable. However, if you’re worried about age and mileage, you should consider buying a car that’s 3 to 5 years old. And when it comes to mileage, a used car with at least 36,000 miles will be ideal.

Bottom line

All-in-all, you shouldn’t overemphasize the importance of the car’s age while buying a used car. Instead, you should focus on the model, reliability, and how good the condition of the car is. Some cars may not be very old, but still have a lot of problems. On the contrary, some cars may have several thousand miles and years on them, but they be very reliable.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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