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Buying a car for 3-9 months : maximizing resale value when selling on

bahirlbahirl Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in General

I'm looking to buy a used car (mid size sedan or small SUV/crossover) to use over the next 3-9 months at which point I would look to sell it either privately or back to a dealer.

I'm trying to find a make/model/year which would minimize the loss I'll make on the resale when the 3-9 months is up. I can spend up to $15k - but I'm not sure if I should max out my budget now and try to recoup as much as possible when I resell, or spend as little as possible now and then treat it as a sunken cost/loss.

Any recommendations on makes/models/years/which path I should go down?


  • MarkHolthoffMarkHolthoff Santa Monica, CAPosts: 101
    edited March 2014

    Hey there. I think what you'll want to do is buy a car that is basically fully depreciated -- meaning that, as long as it's still in good running condition, it's not likely to depreciate much more over time. Generally, that means cars that are about 10 years old or older.

    Since you'll be looking at older cars, you'll also want to ensure that you're buying a very reliable make and model -- e.g. Toyota Camry, Honda Accord -- and one that has clearly been very well taken care of -- i.e. has a regular service and repair history, no more than one or two owners, etc. Try to find a car that's just had a major service completed (e.g. the 90,000 mile service) so that you won't have to spend very much on repairs or service during your ownership.

    Also, to minimize your initial costs, you should only look at cars for sale by private parties (vs, dealerships, which typically have a sizable markup on older cars).

    Keep in mind that you will still have to pay sales tax and registration on the car, and that these are going to be sunk costs.

    When you sell it, you should definitely sell it yourself in order to get most of your money back.

    If you find any good examples you're considering, post them here, and we can discuss further.

    Good luck!

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,042

    Just to add to Mark's advice, my son bought a Honda Accord (1999, I believe) last year for a bit over $3,000. He could probably sell it himself today for about the same amount, as it still runs just fine. So he would only be out the taxes, registration, and basic maintenance, maybe some minor depreciation.

    I'm assuming that after 3-9 months, your plan is to buy another vehicle? If so, minimizing your cost (while also driving something relatively reliable) right now keeps more money in your pocket for that future purpose.


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