Unless you live in an urban area with many public transportation options owning a vehicle is a necessary expense out here in flyover country.
It is fact that the value of a new vehicle drops sharply when it is driven off the dealer lot. This may be true in the short term which is why my ten year ownership plan works best for us. My vehicle ownership plan for decades has been to buy new, perform all scheduled maintenance, keep it like-new clean at all times then sell it after ten years of use. Resale value is maximized and the cost over the term is kept at a minimum. This has proven to work for over 40 years.
We prefer to put as much cash down and maintain the lowest possible monthly payments. With current low interest rates over a four year term my new truck will provide six years and beyond of zero loan payments. But how about a used vehicle?
Monday I sold my Jeep Wrangler. It was my first used vehicle in over forty years. When I laid eyes on that Jeep it just screamed excellent condition. The previous owner took very good care of it. There was zero rust, rare for its age in this climate and it had 53.000 miles. Having owned Jeeps before I am convinced of their high resale value if it has been very well kept. So buying used in this case gave me no concerns.
After three years the Jeep provided reliable fun transportation (especially during those lake effect snowstorms) and minor mechanical problems. It got new shoes two years ago. The Jeep cost me $16,500 (paid cash) three years ago. Today I sold it for $13,000.
Doing simple math it cost an estimated $3500 for years use not counting insurance, fuel, $600 for the shoes and scheduled maintenance costs. It came to me with 53,000 miles recorded and turned around to sell it with 100,600 miles on the meter.
Three weeks ago an ad was posted on craigslist with some photos, a description and the asking price. After selling my last Jeep and a Harley Davidson both on craigslist within two days and for the asking price my faith in the combination of craigslist and the condition of my vehicles it was not to be this time. Craigslist provided two phone calls and no tire kickers. After two weeks of crickets chirping an idea flashed in my head.
A friend owns an old gas station on US30 in Valpo. It serves as an office for his construction business. We have noticed he often sells used construction equipment there such as bobcats and trucks. A phone call was made and with his permission the Jeep was positioned in a visible spot with a for sale sign and my phone number. Being in a high visibility spot paid off soon. For the five days it sat on display there were at least ten inquiries per day.
On Saturday I scheduled two test drives. The two buyers showed up simultaneously and after their road test got into a bidding war. When one reached my asking price he slipped me a nice deposit, the other was unprepared having no cash on hand. There was one condition, his mechanic would inspect the Jeep before a final transaction. If the Jeep failed I could keep his deposit, fair enough.
On Monday I drove it to the mechanic. After driving it, raising it on his lift and going through it with a flashlight inspection he approved my Jeep was in excellent condition for it's age.
After a trip to the bank, a transfer of title and the deal was complete. Everybody's happy.