Avoid the impulse buy: what to think about before buying an expensive car


FerrariBuying a prestige car at an attractive price, even if it is second hand, still represents a very significant financial commitment. Cars, even at the upper end of the market, do not retain their purchase value.

Unless money is no object, the buyer is well advised to take a number of issues into consideration before committing to a vehicle purchase.

The internet makes learning a lot about a car quickly an easy task. As well as the manufacturer’s own website, there will usually be a great deal of information available that goes beyond the usual statistics about speed, acceleration, fuel consumption etc. Many motoring forums will provide information about common faults, fixes, alterations and other detail.

If possible, visit as many dealers as necessary to look at examples of the car being considered.

As well as getting the best purchase price, the following should be obtained:

the average value of an example of the car in the desired condition and with the maximum acceptable mileage
• costs of servicing and maintenance, for example tyres, batteries, brakes and exhausts
• Quotes for insuring the car

Of course, one of the best ways to get acquainted with an expensive car before making the decision to buy is to take it for a test drive. It doesn’t take long to get the feel of a car on the open road and to assess the quality of ride, interior, trim and other features.

Test drives are easily arranged, but they are nevertheless limited in their scope. They are usually quite short, over small distances, and often in built-up areas where speed and performance are not readily achieved. One way to really get to grips with a car is through a driving experience on a dedicated race track. This allows the driver to really get a feel for what a car is capable of and to experience it in full flight. There are companies that arrange such experiences in luxury and performance vehicles, so it is worth checking to see if the car being considered for purchase can be experienced in such a way.

Unless the car is going to be used purely for the pleasure of one or two people, there are practicalities to be considered, for example:

• is there sufficient luggage space?
• are there enough seats? This is particularly significant if the car is to be the only one owned
• parking – is there a garage available to keep the car in pristine condition?
• if there is no garage available, will it be safe parked for long periods on the street?
• reliability – is the car fit for long journeys? How does it hold up over time?

There are two financial issues to be considered before going ahead with the purchase of a prestige car. The first is the actual purchase. Is financing going to be necessary? If so, it is best to have that in place before going shopping as it can be tempting to accept an inflated finance deal from a seller when the car is sitting there ready to drive away.

The second financial issue is the cost of running the car. This is where thorough research on fuel costs, insurance and maintenance is essential.

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