Help talk me out of, or in to, buying a new car

I love my current car. There’s nothing wrong with it, though there are a few features it doesn’t have that I would like. It’s a 2013 Mazda3 with just over 45 thousand miles on it.

I have read in the past that the prime age for reselling your car is 3-4 years. I don’t know if that’s really true, so that’s one question I have for you – is this the best time to resell it?

I started looking at 2014 and 2015 Mazda3 models in the area, and I was rather shocked by the high prices – hardly lower than brand new 2016s. Which suggests the used ones keep a pretty high resale value, though of course that’s before any dickering. And there’s hardly any available locally.

And my next thought was, ok, how about a new car? A new 2015 still on the lot (though AFAICT there aren’t any left locally) or a 2016.

What say the Dope?

Oh, and is a “Pre-owned Certified” car worth the premium?

I’m the type to buy a car and drive it into the ground. To mangle a common phrase found elsewhere, “No new car feels as good as no car payments does.”

Another fan of driving a vehicle till it’s dead, providing I like it. We’ve had a few that I couldn’t wait to trade in, but we’ve also had some that we drove well over 100K miles (one was well over 200K.)

Barring issues that are nickel-and-diming you to death, you need to weigh the features you want against what it’ll cost and how important your vehicle is to you. For me, a car is a means to get from here to there. For my husband, a car needs to be a projection of his self-image, which is why he always preferred sporty cars while I was happy with econoboxes or minivans. In the grand scheme of your life, are new wheels worth the chunk of your income that they’ll consume? Will you be happier with the extra features? Seems to me, that’s more important than resale value.

I bought mine for 2 very different reasons – it was the best looking car among those in my price range, and it had the highest mileage of any compacts (except the Prius, which was out of my price range anyway). According to what I’ve read, it still has the highest mileage of any except diesels and hybrids.

More than features, though, I’m interested in the economics of it.

Also, the first major maintenance costs should be at the 60 thousand mile point, so it might make sense to sell before then.

I say go for it. Do whatever you want. It’s your money.

So you have a car payment. Big whoop! I can’t remember a time I haven’t had a car payment. :slight_smile:

This is a very good point.

I. . .don’t think that is a compelling argument.

Boyo Jim, have you looked at the Kelly Blue Book value for your car? It’s not gospel, but it’s a good starting point.

Just anecdotal here, but our 2012 Sonata just crossed 95K miles and we haven’t had any major work done to it ever. Oil changes every 5K and assorted bits-n-pieces as our car guy recommends along the way. Our biggest expense was replacing the tires. Maybe part of the difference is that we go to a local and not to the dealer - but our guy has kept our cars running great for the last 10 years, so we trust him.

Yes I have. The high end of the trade-in price range is about 3 grand less than I paid for it a year ago.

Ok, though I’m talking about the maintenance schedule recommended by Mazda, and I don’t have a good enough history with a local repair place to set the manufacturer’s recommendations aside in favor of personal advice from a local expert.

Hmmm, that’s a tough one, Boyo. A 2013 with 45k miles means you’re driving about 22-23k miles a year, so another year or two will see you in the 80-90k range. But trading in a car only three years old doesn’t make a lot of sense either, albeit I used to buy new every 3-4 years (the car ads got to me…but I’m feeling much better now…).

I’d say hang on to it for another year and try to put a nice down payment together…if you take care of the car you have it shouldn’t depreciate that much more, and the less you have to make in payments, the better off you’ll be.

I’ve got a 2010 Chevy with 55,000 on it and I plan to hang onto it until 2017, letting that CD I put in the bank 5 years ago just sit there quietly…

Good luck, whatever your decision.
PS–Kelly Blue Book is good; if you have a CARMAX dealer nearby, you might see what they would offer you.

Major maintenance is the equivalent of what, one or maybe two months of car payments? Then you’re back in the favorable zone. Remember that cost per mile changes significantly if you have to make a (larger/longer) payment than you have now.

Can you aftermarket the desired missing features into the existing car easily?

And I can’t remember a time I did. And that’s not because my memory is crappy.


Why not buy a better equipped 3 year old car?

Also how could there be a “best time” to sell. Surely the market will flatten any arbitrage quivkt

I’ve looked at a few numbers. It looks like if I get a trade-in offer on the old car near the top of the Kelley Blue Book range, I can pay off the loan amount in its entirety. If I pour it back into the new car and finance the rest, I can end up with a lower loan balance.

It seems do-able. I have some hope that I’ll get a good offer from the dealer I bought it from, and have had it maintained by, and will buy the new one from, that I can make a deal.

The most important features I want were optional on the older model and now standard on the new one.

Weren’t you unemployed for a while? Have your savings and retirement funds recovered from that period? If not, keep driving the same car.

I drive a 2001 Saturn SC2. It just turned over 55,000 miles** today**. I bought it new.

I plan to go new in the Spring. As much as a used vehicle might be worth it, I don’t want to to inherit someone else’s problems.

I bought a brand new Protégé 5 in 2002, my first ever and only new one. I’m sure I would still be driving it if someone hadn’t smacked into me and totaled it. Luckily she was well insured and 100% at fault. I also had very low mileage, though not quite as low as yours. I was just over 60,000 in 12 years.

Another voice for the “best time to sell a car is when you have to drag it to the salvage yard”. There is not much way to to justify the finances of buying a new(er) vehicle because of a few features (most of which could probably be added to yours as aftermarket). That said, however, we don’t always make decisions based on sound financial logic - and, within reason, that’s OK.