I’ve bought 7 used cars, and know how to buy a car! These tips are geared towards buying a preowned or used Mini Cooper, but can be used for any car purchase.
If you’re buying a car, it’s good to have a copy of a used car buyer’s guide. We have this year’s Lemon-Aid New and Used Cars and Trucks. It’s an essential guide for first-time car buyers – it has an encyclopedic lineup of the best and worst cars, trucks, and SUVs sold since 1970. Lemon-Aid also includes the fifteen worst auto buys of all time, and legal tips on how to get your money back if you buy a lemon (a bad used Mini Cooper).
We’re leaning towards buying a used Mini Cooper – probably a 2008 or 2009. From Lemon-Aid, we learned that 2007 isn’t the best year for Mini Coopers (see why it’s a good idea to have a copy of a used car buyer’s guide?).
How to Buy a Used or PreOwned Mini Cooper
Consumer Reports: Used Car Buying Guide Best & Worst Used Cars is also a popular used-car guide, but you can access Consumer Reports for free online through your library. We use the online version of Consumer Reports, and the book version of Lemon-Aid.
If you’re buying a used car, you’ll probably pay now or pay later (car loans aside)
A used 2008 or 2009 Mini Cooper costs about $18,000 to $22,000, depending on the mileage and whether or not it’s been in an accident. We’re tempted to buy a 2007 Mini Cooper that has 107,000 kms on it, because it’s only $13,000. But, the mileage is so high, it may be better to cough up the extra $5,000 and buy a newer model with less mileage.
You’ll either pay now or pay later. That is, if you buy a cheap car now, you may be saddled with expensive car repair bills in the future (like, next month!). If you buy an expensive used car with low mileage, you may save money in the long run. I think it’s better to spend more money now on a high quality used car with low mileage, instead of cheaping out with a less expensive car.
Take your time – especially if you’re buying a used Mini Cooper
I was so tempted to buy the first Mini we test drove – it was the one with 107,000 kms on it. But it was an automatic, so we test drove a standard 2008 Mini Cooper the next day. I loved that car! I practically wrote the guy a cheque on the spot, but decided that I needed to sleep on it.
One of my best tips on how to buy a used car is to take your time. I’ve always impulsively bought cars, and often regretted my purchase later. This time, I’m going to slow down and take my time. I’m especially slow to buy a used Mini Cooper because it’s such an expensive car! We have the cash, but we’ve never bought anything so expensive (except for our house).
If you’re car shopping, don’t let yourself be pushed into buying a used car. I know it’s a pain to look for used cars, but it’s important to go slowly and test drive as many as possible.
Think about how much money the car you want is worth
We want a Mini Cooper and are willing to pay almost $20,000 for a used one. This isn’t a decision we made lightly or easily – both my husband and I are frugal. We don’t spend money on luxuries (which is why we have $20,000 to spend on a used car!).
A smart (but boring) tip on how to buy a car is to make sure the car has resale value. Mini Coopers have a high resale value, which makes them a good used car to buy. But other cars have very, very poor resale values. This is important, even if you think you’ll keep your car forever! Trust me, the day will come when you have to sell your car or accept an insurance cheque for it because it’s been written off. Then, you’ll be grateful you bought a car with a high resale value.
Used Mini Coopers are a good buy for us for several reasons: we love the way they look, drive, and feel when we’re in them. They’ll hold their value. And, most importantly, we have the money. We aren’t financing a car loan, so we won’t be saddled with expensive car and interest payments for years.
If you can’t afford to buy a $20,000 or even a $5,000 used car, buy a cheaper one while you save money to buy a more expensive used car.
Quick tips on how to buy a used car (Mini Cooper, here we come!)
- Test drive as many used cars as possible – not just the make and model you want to buy (we’re test driving a 2010 Mazda 2 today because it’s $11,000 and only has 14,000 kms on it. Cheaper than a used Mini Cooper – but is it as fun to drive? We’ll see).
- Look for used cars in a variety of places. We’re testing the Mazda 2 at National Car and Truck Rental, and have looked at Craigslist, on car lots, and on bulletin boards for used cars.
- Know what questions to ask (eg, accidents? how many owners? liens? repair records? etc).
- Ask the sellers what their best and least favorite things are about the car.
- Take it to a mechanic, to get an inspection (it costs about $100).
- Make sure you get a copy of the bill of sale, and the title.
- Save up to buy a car – don’t finance a car loan.
- Remember that car insurance can be expensive, especially for an expensive sporty little thing like a Mini Cooper. If we buy a Mini, our insurance will increase by $400 a year.
- Ask your friends and family if they have any tips on how to buy a car – and if they’ve owned the type of car you want to buy.
I’m still not 100% convinced we should buy a used Mini Cooper, but I suspect we’ll buy it anyway! I’ve been so frugal (cheap) for my whole life, it’s difficult to throw caution to the wind and buy a used car for almost $20,000.
But, we only live once…we might as well live it up in a fun, cute used car that makes us happy!
What do you think – would you spend $20,000 on a used car? Do you have any tips on how to buy a car or a Mini Cooper?
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me! Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.