Some of us might prefer to buy a used car instead of a new one to get the best bang for our buck.
If we have done our work before purchasing a used car to ensure that we get a reliable used car that has been kept in tip-top condition, that is a very wise and economical decision. However, no matter how well-maintained a used car is, there would still be certain hidden costs that would come with it that any experienced used car buyer should learn to expect.
Do these hidden costs make buying a used car a bad deal?
Well, hardly. Unless any of these hidden costs turns out to be more severe than usual, the enormous costs savings one would get by buying a used car over a new one would far outweigh these additional hidden costs.
Nevertheless, it would be useful for us to expect them and set aside a certain amount of cash to cater for these costs instead of being taken by surprise whenever we buy a used car.
Compulsory Parts Replacements
Cars will not last forever.
Similarly, parts of a car have their own life-cycles and would need to be replaced at regular intervals. Naturally, if you were to purchase a used car, a number of parts would be close to the end of their life-cycles and would need replacing,
That is something that’s perfectly and would just count towards the annual maintenance costs of the original car owner.
Since tyres are the only parts of the car that are in constant contact with the ground, they are naturally prone to wearing out every few years or so.
Unless the previous owner was kind enough to tell us when was the car’s last tyre change, it would be best to change a new set of tyres as soon as possible. However, most used cars would come with tyres which typically still have enough thread and are new enough to last for another 6 months at least.
Hence, unless the thread on the tyres are really wearing out, there is usually not an urgent need to get the tyres changed immediately although we should be expecting it sometime soon.
As long as the tyres are not more than 4 years old and still have sufficient thread in them, they could be used.
- Battery Pack
A car’s battery pack is an important component of a car. Without it, the car cannot start. Battery packs usually have a lifespan of 1 to 2 years, depending on the driving style of the owner and whether they drive more at night.
Unless the previous owner explicitly told us that they have just replaced the battery pack with a brand new one, the battery pack should be the first thing we should replace when getting a used car.
This is because there is no way to tell when a battery pack would fail, which would leave us stranded somewhere with a car that would not start. That might end up causing more inconvenience for us when it finally does fail and we might have to incur more costs to tow the car to the workshop or for bringing a new battery pack to the stranded car (unless we’re fortunate enough to be able to jumpstart it).
- Various Belts
The system of belts found in most cars are made out of rubber and are constantly moving at high speed as the engine runs.
If they become fatigued, they might break and damage the engine. Since there is no way of knowing when the last replacement was, it is advisable to get them changed as soon as possible.
Technically, a car can still operate with shock-absorbers that are past their life-cycle. However, it might be dangerous when we are speeding because it would affect how the car corners and handles during an emergency.
Shock-absorbers usually have a life-span of 2 to 5 years depending on the driving conditions of the road. Hence, it is also one of the components of a car that we would have to be prepared to replace when we buy a used car.
- Electrical Components
For cars that are aged 7 years or less, that’s usually not too big of a problem.
However, for cars that are aged 7 years or older, certain electrical components like the alternator might start to fail. Hence, we should be prepared to replace certain electrical components when the time comes.
If we are able to pre-empt any breakdowns by changing the required parts before the end of their life-cycles, then the time costs would probably be minimal.
However, in the situation where we unfortunately experience a breakdown as a result of a part failing on us, we should expect a higher chance of having to incur a time cost due to the need to visit the workshop and get our car fixed every once in a while.
Even if we have bought a new car, we would still face the same risks from the 5th year onwards.
No matter how hard we try at doing our due diligence before purchasing a used car and maintaining it to pre-empt breakdowns, there will always be a component of luck when it comes to buying a used car.
Sometimes, there might be unexpected one-off problems that we might have missed out on.
If the unfortunate event that we have chosen a wrong car that has some major problems; we would have to make a decision on whether to sell the used car right away before it depreciates any further from the price we got it at.
If the cost of fixing the problem is significant or more than we are willing to shoulder, selling the used car and getting another one would probably be the best option.
Having gone through all the hidden costs to expect when buying a used car, it seems that there is quite a fair bit of work and trouble that we would have to go through if we decide to buy a used car instead of a new one.
However, the potential costs savings could still work out to be much more considering the rapid depreciation rate of brand new cars and many other factors.
Ultimately, it is up to us to decide whether we would like to spend more to save us the trouble of going through all the things we need to expect when getting a used car or take a bet on going through them so we can invest our extra cash on other investment opportunities.
DollarsandSense is a website that aims to help people make better financial decisions, one interesting bite-sized article at a time. Like us on Facebook to stay in touch with our latest article.
DollarsAndSense Malaysia is a website that aims to help people make better financial decisions, one interesting, bite-sized article at a time. Like us on Facebook to stay in touch with our latest articles.