A happy woman holding her new car keys

Embracing the Decision to Buy Pre-Owned

Considering the frequency with which they purchase used cars, Atlanta GA drivers are unknowingly proving themselves to be some of the most prudent car buyers in the country. Now that might sound like a lofty statement, but the greater Atlanta area distinguishes itself as one of the largest domestic consumers of lightly pre-owned cars, trucks and SUVs. And while it would be easy to connect that trend to the most median income level of $26,994 the simple truth is that Georgia enjoys the 14th strongest economy of the fifty states, and places 13th interns of fiscal stability. So, could it be that Atlantans are simply better at recognizing the value of buying pre-owned? We think so; and with that in mind, let’s explore some of the evidence that supports our theory.

Consider Your Surroundings

Across the United States, the national average of major roadways in poor condition is around 22%, meaning that nearly a quarter of streets in the country require significant repair. And while that statistic doesn’t take into consideration roads that need minor repairs (roads with scattered potholes in the Northeast, for example), it puts the severity of potentially damaging road conditions in perspective.

Georgia however, claims that only 3.5% of major roadways are in poor condition. This reliability of physical driving conditions, combined with a temperate year-round climate places Georgia among some of the best driving conditions in the country. It also helps to minimize the impact of an average commute time of 28.5 minutes, on par with the national average.

But what does this mean to vehicles? Well, it means that Georgia vehicles are likely to face less organic wear and tear form poor road conditions, seasonal road conditions, or polarizing temperatures. In turn, a well-maintained vehicle in Atlanta is more likely to retain its value and reliability for secondary owners. If that’s not solid reassurance as to why it’s smart to seek out used cars in Atlanta, well, we don’t know what is.

Okay, we lied. We have a few more reassurances to offer you, and here they come.

Less of Your Money

Right off the bat, the decision to buy a pre-owned vehicle means that you’re not going to spend as much money as you would on a new model year offering. Common sense, right? Well, it’s more than just the price tag that comes into play. Whether on the front end of your purchase or recurring as incremental costs across the life of your vehicle, a well-maintained used vehicle will cost less to own. This means lower financing rates (or a higher likelihood of buying a vehicle outright), lower tax and title costs, and lower insurance costs. This is important, because small incremental costs are often easy to overlook, diminishing that they add it up to thousands and thousands of dollars. Simply by choosing a vehicle that reduces your incremental costs, you’re saving money without even realizing it.

The Upside of Depreciation

Here’s where the conversation gets a little bit fun. When discussing the choice to buy pre-owned, many people “shut down” disappointed by the realization that they won’t be acquiring the so-called vehicle of their dreams. But what they might not realize is that, by not buying new, they might be empowering themselves to get even more car for their money. It all comes down to depreciation.

Most people have heard the old adage regarding depreciation, that a car loses value the moment that it’s driven off the dealer’s lot. Well, that’s true. In fact, a vehicle loses about 11% of its value before the rear tires even hit the pavement. And while there are laws that prevent such things, this means that you could bang a u-turn after buying a brand new $30,000 vehicle and the dealer could get away with offering you less than $27,000. Like we said, there are laws…

But you get the point.

After a year of ownership, that $30,000 vehicle has now decreased in value up to 25% placing it just over the $22,000 market. Fast forward to the three-year mark, and it’s only worth about 54% of what you paid for it. And at five years, it’s only valued at about 37% of the original price. This means that it’s only worth about $11,000.

Woman smiling at the price of her new car

But what does this mean to you, if you’re looking to buy?

The purchase of a pre-owned vehicle means that you’ve allowed the original owner to should the lion’s share of that vehicle’s depreciation. Whether you acquire that vehicle after one, three or five model years its sales price will have been adjusted accordingly (less the dealer’s profit margin). The end result is that you might be able to afford a more expensive vehicle or higher trim level than you’d have been able to afford if you attempted to buy it brand new. Thus, you’re actually getting more car for your money…it’s the upside of depreciation.

The Facts of Life

“But the savings of buying a used car won’t offset the cost of repairs” and “if I buy a used vehicle, I’ll get fewer years out of it,” are just a few of the common criticisms (and one that might have already popped up into your head).

Well, you’re not wrong. Then again, there’s no guarantee that you’re right, either. Will a used vehicle be more likely to require repairs and maintenance than a brand new one? Of course it will, it’s both a depreciating asset and a machine. But that places a certain expectation upon a buyer to perform their due diligence to ensure that it’s a worthwhile purchase. This means a diligent inspection performed by a skilled, and credible person and a willingness to secure a vehicle history report. Only then can you gain an understanding of what that vehicle’s needs might be down the road.

And in terms of longevity, well, consider this. By 2019 standards, the average lifespan of a vehicle is around eleven years. The average length of vehicle ownership clocks in at around six years. So, even if you’re purchasing a five-year-old vehicle, as long as you’ve performed your due diligence to ensure that it’s been well maintained (and are willing to maintain it well, on your end) you can enjoy six or more years of ownership.

These are the kinds of considerations that so few people take into consideration, but it seems like Atlanta is one of the places wise enough to look at the big picture. With fewer damaging factors in play, it’s likely that plenty of Atlantans enjoy trouble-free ownership of pre-owned vehicles.

Is Buying Pre-Owned Right For You?

The combination of fiscal, regional, and environmental factors discussed should be enough to prove to anyone in Atlanta that there is merit in purchasing a pre-owned vehicle. So, it really comes down to a personal decision, doesn’t it? Does the decision to purchase a used car, truck or SUV jive with the unique demands of your budget and lifestyle? Setting aside matters of personal vanity, and understanding that most households in the state are multi-vehicle households, it’s highly likely that you’ve already accepted that the answer is “yes.” And if you have yet to jump on the “Pre-Owned Train to Georgia” (worst song title ever?), we hope that we’ve given you a few things to think about.