If you want the privilege of driving a luxury car but do not have a luxury salary, then buying a car like a used Lexus GS 350 is a great option for you. All cars, and especially luxury cars, drop significantly in value as soon as they are driven off the new car lot. You can get a 1-year-old luxury car for a fraction of the price of this year's new model, and if you're willing to settle for a 5- or 10-year-old car, you'll be paying pennies in comparison to the original price!
As you shop for luxury used cars, here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you get a good deal and a car that will stand the test of time.
1. Pay for a pre-purchase inspection.
If you are buying from a dealer, see if they would be okay with you hiring your own mechanic to inspect the car prior to purchase. This way, there is an extra set of eyes on the car, and you're less likely to overlook something that is wrong. If there are problems detected during the inspection, this does not necessarily mean you need to walk away from the car. Use the problems to negotiate a better deal on the car. For instance, if the seller is offering a car for a certain price, but its timing belt needs to be replaced, see if they'll drop the price and/or include the repairs.
2. Pay attention to add-on features.
Add-on features, such as an updated suspension or heated seats, can be nice. But if they're not add-on features that you want or will use, they just increase the value of the car unnecessarily. If you find a car you like that has a lot of features you don't need, try searching for similar cars without those features. You'll often save a great deal.
3. Ask for the maintenance report.
Luxury car owners usually take great pride in their vehicles, so they tend to stick to the recommended maintenance schedule. This is important to keep the car running its best and to avoid premature breakdowns. Ask to see the maintenance records to verify that the oil changes, tune-ups, and other adjustments were all done on time. If a car has not been maintained according to schedule, move on to another vehicle since there are plenty of luxury cars that have had the recommended maintenance.
4. Watch out for software modifications.
Physical modifications to a car are one thing. If you like the way they look, then go right ahead and buy the car. If a car has had the software modified, on the other hand, you need to be a bit more careful. Software modifications that are not done correctly can cause excessive wear on the engine. Always check that the software was modified by a reputable mechanic who is experienced working with luxury cars. The seller should have a receipt to show this. Be wary of any inconsistencies you notice in steering or braking; these could indicate that the software modification is not ideal.
5. Try all of the interior functions.
A mechanic may not check the interior functions, like the lights and seat mobility, when looking over the car. They may assume you did this yourself during the test drive -- and you should! Try every button and gadget to make sure it works properly. If something does not work -- even if it is minor -- you can use this to negotiate a lower price or repairs with the seller. It's up to you whether or not you want to have the feature fixed.