A yellow 2010 Chevy Camaro SS Transformers Edition is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a Chevy Camaro dealer.

Is It Worth Buying an Older Chevy?

When looking at used cars for sale at your Chevrolet dealer, you’ll often find a wide range of model years out on the lot. Older vehicles tend to be cheaper, and if missing out on the latest tech features isn’t a dealbreaker for you, you might be tempted to save money by opting for an older option. However, you might be worried that shopping for an older car risks ending up with a vehicle that will break down quickly and cost you more money in the long run, thanks to high maintenance costs. Today we’ll delve into this thorny issue and look at some of the factors worth considering before you buy an older car.

Inspect the Car

When buying an older car, you should never make a deal sight unseen. Always take a look at the vehicle in person and see what it’s like. For one thing, make sure that you’ll be happy with the car’s interior and that it’s not too out-of-date for your needs. But more importantly, check to see that components on the underside of the car don’t look rusty or corroded, and make sure the tires look safe to drive on. You should always consider buying from a franchised Chevy dealership, as they will thoroughly inspect their used inventories for quality and safety. An individual seller or smaller used car dealer might not be telling you everything you need to know.

A red 2015 Chevy SS is shown from the rear at an angle.

Some Models Are More Reliable Than Others

Not all used vehicles are created equal. Some models can keep on chugging for decades if properly maintained, while others are simply never going to last that long, no matter how well you take care of them. If you stick to models that are built to last, then you’re more likely to be satisfied with your purchase of an older car.

Since pickup trucks are built to handle heavy use and tough jobs, they tend to be built for the long haul. Chevrolet trucks are so long-lasting that the company set up a community for so-called “Truck Legends” who have racked up an impressive number of miles on their vehicles. Looking at the online gallery, you can find trucks that date all the way back to the 1920s and nearly 150 trucks with at least a million miles on the odometer.

If you’re looking for a commuter vehicle, there are plenty of reliable used Chevy sedans. The ninth-generation Chevy Malibu has been produced since 2016 and is a reliable midsize option that’s fuel efficient and comfortable. Other solid commuter sedans include the compact Chevy Cruz and the full-size Chevy Impala. Although these models were discontinued recently, they are still great buys on the used market. When it comes to SUVs, reliable used models include the compact Chevy Equinox, three-row Chevy Traverse, and full-size Chevy Tahoe.

The Specific Year Matters

Cars don’t age like fine wines, but the two have one thing in common: the specific year they were produced is important. When looking at the vintage of a wine, sommeliers consider factors like years when a harvest was affected by particularly good weather. Similarly, you should always consider updates, refreshes, and redesigns when shopping for a used car. Manufacturers like Chevy constantly improve their vehicles, and you might miss out on better features if you aren’t aware of when those improvements occurred. On the other hand, you may be able to find a better deal on a used car that was produced before a major update.

Every Vehicle Has a Unique History

We’ve all heard the old story of finding a used car that’s in great condition because the little old lady who owned it only used it to drive to church on Sunday. While most cars in the real world don’t get kept in a garage for six out of the week, it’s true that previous ownership can make a big difference when it comes to the quality of an older vehicle. Third parties like CARFAX and AutoCheck offer comprehensive vehicle history reports that can show you information specific to the particular used car you’re looking at. You can see whether the vehicle has been in an accident, how many owners it has had, and even what regular maintenance and recalls have been performed.

If a vehicle has been properly maintained and hasn’t been in a major accident, then you don’t have to worry quite as much about its age. However, if a vehicle is both an older model and has a shaky history, then it’s probably best to steer clear. If you’re buying a car from an individual, you’ll likely have to shell out some money to get a full vehicle history report, but most Chevy dealerships offer them for free with all of their used vehicles.

An orange 2018 Chevy Equinox is shown from the front at an angle.

Your Mileage May Vary

In general, older vehicles tend to have more miles on the odometer, but the relationship between age and mileage isn’t perfect since every driver is different. Some people commute ten minutes each way to work while others sit through an hour of traffic every day, some drive to the airport for their summer vacation while others cruise down the freeway looking for roadside attractions. Don’t forget to look at both the age of the car and the number of miles it’s been driven.

If a car has a lot of miles on it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s dangerous or a bad deal, but it does mean that you need to pay extra attention to its condition. More miles driven means more wear and tear, so you need to be extra sure that the vehicle has been kept up-to-date on its maintenance and that any parts that need to be replaced at certain mileage milestones were actually replaced. Don’t let lower mileage completely lower your guard, of course, but it does give you one less thing to worry about.

Is It Worth It?

At the end of the day, we can’t give a single yes or no answer to this question. As we’ve discussed, every used vehicle is unique. On top of that, every individual driver is unique. If you can get by using public transportation for a few months while you save up for a car that’s a bit newer, then you might save money in the long run by getting a newer car that won’t require as much care. But if you need a car right away and an older model is all you can afford, it may well be worth it. After all, vehicles are becoming more reliable and lasting longer than ever. As of 2022, the average age of cars on American roads was 12.2 years old, and studies by entities like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power are finding that the average car has become more dependable than it used to be.

If you do decide to buy an older car, the important thing is to stay informed at each step of the process. Do your research about the particular models you’re looking at, ask questions, and pay attention to the vehicle’s history. Once you get the car, stick to the recommended service schedule since regular oil changes are much more affordable than dealing with a costly repair later on. If you shop smart and work with a trusted Chevrolet dealer, you can end up with an older car that will serve you well and last a while.