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Used car buying tips: Choosing the model year of a used car

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Here is a very useful used car buying tips for anyone who is in the middle of buying a used car or plan to buy your next car. Often there are many questions to ask when buying a used car, and one of the most important questions is, which year of the car should I buy? Let’s say you have already have in mind to purchase a used Toyota Prius, but which year is the best suitable for you? Here are some of the calculations that could solve the dilemma (We use a Toyota Prius as an example, it could be any car).

Choosing the year of a used car

A new Toyota Prius price is starting from $23,520 MSRP for Prius Two. Let’s forget about all extra options of what other models have including JBL audio system, leather-trimmed seats, or 17-in alloy wheels. We calculate the mathematics base on the basic model, Toyota Prius Two. The case here is, for a new car, you pay $23,520. The moment you drive it out form the show room, the value of the car may dropped to $20,000 instantly.

According to Edmunds used cars, here are some of the used car pricing for few used Toyota Prius.

  • 2010 Toyota Prius – used car price from $18,414
  • 2009 Toyota Prius – used car price from $17,042
  • 2008 Toyota Prius – used car price from $14,687
  • 2007 Toyota Prius – used car price from $13,573
  • 2006 Toyota Prius – used car price from $11,995
  • 2005 Toyota Prius – used car price from $10,468
  • 2004 Toyota Prius – used car price from $9,616
  • 2003 Toyota Prius – used car price from $8,342
  • 2002 Toyota Prius – used car price from $7,450
  • 2001 Toyota Prius – used car price from $6,416

If your heart has confirmed to purchase a Toyota Prius, there are at least 10 different model years to choose, and each of them has one to two thousand different. Choosing a used car can be headache, but it can be sort out steps by steps. The first question comes in mind now is your budget. If your budget is anything above $15,000 and below $19,000, making the choice is easier. With $15,000, you can go for a Prius from 2009 or above.

Which model year is worth to buy?

Now you have clearly known you want a Prius in between $15,000 to $19,000, things are a little easier to work out.

Case 1 – buy a 2009 Toyota Prius

Now you decided to buy a 2009 Prius at the price of $17,042. You are going for a car loan with the interest rate of 3.8%.

  • Month car payment: $312.32 @ 3.8% APR for 5 years loan term.
  • Car value after 1 year: $14,687
  • Total lost on depreciation: $2,355

Case 2 – buy a 2010 Toyota Prius

Now you decided to buy a 2010 Prius at the price of $18,414. You are going for a car loan with the interest rate of 3.8%.

  • Month car payment: $337.46 @ 3.8% APR for 5 years loan term.
  • Car value after 1 year: $17,042
  • Total lost on depreciation: $1,372

Case 3 – buy a 2008 Toyota Prius

What if you go for a 2008 Prius at the price of $14,687 with the same interest rate of 3.8% APR a year?

  • Month car payment: $269.16 @ 3.8% APR for 5 years loan term.
  • Car value after 1 year: $13,573
  • Total lost on depreciation: $1,114

By comparing case 1 and case 2, the differences in between buying a newer used car (2010 Toyota Prius) and a year older used car (2009 Toyota Prius) is $337.46 – $312.32 = $25.14. Besides, the total money lost on depreciation for a 2010 Prius is $983 lesser than 2009 Prius base on true market value from Edmunds.

Now compare case 2 with case 3, both the total lost on depreciation and monthly car payment has not much of difference too. Buying a 2008 Prius you tends to pay $68.30/month lesser than 2010 model. Question should comes into mind is “Am I afford another $68.30 monthly payment for the car? Is the $68.30 worth to buy a car 2 years older?” We believe most of the people willing to pay just $68.30 for a newer car.

All the amount shown above is just a guideline, the calculation have to base on the actual car price you can get from the current market. Off course, other than calculating the cost of the car, the condition of the car has to bring into consideration including the mileage and some other things to check when buying used cars.

This article is written by howsen on October, 2011. The car price above may change over the time, but the calculation and logic may still apply. The best advice and car buying tips we give is to buy a used car that best fit your needs and your budget. If you love this article, you may also like: Buy car with cash: good or bad?

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