Buying Used Luxury? Think Twice

How much are those rings worth to you?

How much are those rings worth to you?

Driving a luxury car for the price of a Honda is an appealing proposition.

I’ve advocated for it on these very pages. Why would someone spend $25,000 on a new Accord or CR-V when they could have a used Audi A6 or Q7?

The benefits make it seem like a no-brainer. For the same money you get more luxury, more brand panache, better performance, and an all-around cooler vehicle. Everything’s great, up until your new luxury car needs some basic maintenance and repairs.

I’d like to share my personal story, so you might avoid the fate that has fallen upon me.

Back in December I needed a vehicle that could tote around a family of 6 and all the stuff that comes along for the ride. With a budget of about $20,0000, I could have gotten a used Chevy Suburban or Honda Pilot and had my needs met just fine. I would have had a comfortable vehicle that’s reliable and perfectly adequate.

Instead I got greedy. I started looking for luxury cars priced in the same range. Yes, I had to go a little older, but I came across a 2008 Audi Q7 priced just below $20,000. The salesman said the car had new brakes and new tires and was in top condition. With some negotiation I settled on a price of $18K and signed on the dotted line.

Within my first 8 months of ownership, here’s a list of things that have gone wrong:

  1. The center MMI control unit went out ($800 repair)
  2. The driver’s side rear taillight went out twice (sign of an electrical problem that the dealer wants diagnostic time to figure out)
  3. The blower motor went out ($750 repair)
  4. The car needs new front brakes ($680 repair)
  5. The car is due for spark plugs ($800 repair)

That’s over $3,000 in repairs on a car that was sold as being in “top condition.”

While I fault the dealer for not being upfront on the car’s condition and for telling me the brakes were done when clearly they were not, the issues are just as much my fault. I should have had the car checked out by a third-party mechanic and should have gotten the dealership to put in writing what they told me verbally.

Most important, I should have known that getting into an Audi at a low upfront price would come back and bite me once the car needed service.

Even in the face of all these issues, I love my Q7 and feel better driving it than I would feel in a Pilot. Of course, a Pilot would have heat and the ability to control the radio, but I’ve sacrificed those things for the privilege of sitting behind those four interlocked rings.

Will you think twice before buying a used luxury car instead of a newer mainstream one?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Honda Accord
Used Honda CR-V
Used Audi A6
Used Audi Q7
Used Chevrolet Suburban
Used Honda Pilot

1 Comment

  1. First of all, loved the article. I too considered buying a used Audi Q7, but couldn’t justify the price. I ended up buying a 09 VW Routan SEL with 40k miles. It has been fairly trouble free. It sounds like you just had bad luck. A mechanic may have been able to tell you that you needed new brakes, but the other things seem random. The Q7 is not a very popular car, so parts and repair prices are high.

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