We have all had cars that have had their quirks—lights that don’t work, the mandatory driver-side-power window that refuses to roll down on anything built in the 1990s. Owning a car that has these annoyances makes a great case for the crank window, which has gone the way of the three-speed transmission.
New conveniences are creeping their way into cars, keeping cars in their lanes, adapting their cruise control to the traffic patterns, and other nanny systems designed to secretly take the joy out of driving. Whether these new technologies are a blessing or a curse is yet to be determined. What is evident is that these technologies make vehicles more complicated.
When buying a used car that is lax on reliability and void of a warranty, technology can be a hidden gremlin that can lead to expensive repairs and headaches. There are steps you can take to guarantee you choose a vehicle that won’t be a money sucker.
The best car to buy is a certified pre-owned vehicle from a dealership. Not only does this mean the car comes with some form of warranty, it also means that the vehicle was inspected to manufacturer, dealership, or third-party standards. If there are any electrical problems with the car, a warranty should cover a majority of the costs.
The problem with a CPO vehicle is they do costs significantly more, which could be a hurdle for some pocketbooks. The second best route to a car that will maintain reliability without costing much to repair is to simply get a car without all those pesky technologies.
Let’s be honest, heated seats are a God-send in the winter.
There are electronic parts of a car that are reliable, like power locks and windows, that if they do cease to function are cheap and easy to repair. The outrageous costs come in when the heated massaging seats no longer work, or the once expensive touch-screen display no longer likes being touched.
If money is tight and reliability a must, buying a car that is considered “stripped down” of options is a safe purchase. Crank windows, a radio with a single-disc CD player, manual-adjusting seats, and other non-electrical options will hardly, if ever, break.
Yes, buying a car without the luxurious options is a compromise, but there is a charm to such a vehicle. It may not have all the option boxes ticked, but the car will always be a better buy in the long run.
If going for a stripped down car is simply out of the questions, because, let’s be honest, heated seats are a God-send in the winter, pick the options you can’t live without. Don’t buy a car packed with technologies you have no intention of ever using. Rear-seat DVD players are nice, but if you don’t have kids or really annoying friends, the luxury is costly and useless.
Like all things involving cars, compromising on features and luxuries is key. Look for exactly what you want, but realize that some options can lead to hidden costs down the road. If the car is truly what you want, then no matter what goes wrong, you’ll be happy with your purchase.