Sec­ond-hand lux­ury

Be care­ful or re­pairs could cost more than your new ride Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 30, 2017

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - TELEVISION - Justin Pritchard au­toGuide.com

De­pre­ci­a­tion can be a beau­ti­ful thing — es­pe­cially if you’re ex­cited by the idea of af­ford­able ac­cess to a world-class lux­ury ride.

Many top-line sedans will drop a sig­nif­i­cant amount of re­sale value after just a few years, mean­ing that a six-fig­ure car with rea­son­able mileage can be had for a frac­tion of its orig­i­nal cost. Get it right and an older, higher mileage lux­ury flag­ship sedan might be avail­able for what its orig­i­nal owner paid in tax. What­ever the lux­ury car you’re after, we’ve com­piled a cheat sheet for you to take along on the test drive. Have the ve­hi­cle scanned The used lux­ury sedan you’re con­sid­er­ing is a high-tech piece of ma­chin­ery with nu­mer­ous sen­sors, con­trollers, com­put­ers and mod­ules that com­mu­ni­cate with and mon­i­tor one an­other. Have the ve­hi­cle you’re con­sid­er­ing sub­jected to a full di­ag­nos­tic scan, prefer­ably by a dealer tech­ni­cian. A di­ag­nos­tic scan is cheap, fast and can re­veal po­ten­tially con­cealed is­sues.

Have the ve­hi­cle in­spected and up­dated A Pre-Pur­chase In­spec­tion (PPI) by the ap­pro­pri­ate dealer is highly rec­om­mended. Dur­ing the PPI, a trained tech­ni­cian fa­mil­iar with the ride can in­spect it from rims to roofline for signs of count­less prob­lems or is­sues.

A PPI is typ­i­cally about a $100 job and can re­veal thou­sands of dol­lars’ worth of prob­lems.

While you’re at the dealer, talk to the ser­vice ad­vi­sor about soft­ware up­dates — some may be avail­able to pre-emp­tively fix or ad­dress some la­tent prob­lem or is­sue. Run­ning a used lux­ury car with all soft­ware up­dates ap­plied is a great way to avoid headaches and get­ting frus­trated when cer­tain sys­tems fail to work as ex­pected. Try every­thing When you ar­rive at your test drive, don’t be too anx­ious to get onto the road. Shop­pers are ad­vised to spend time, per­haps 15 min­utes or more, try­ing each and ev­ery sin­gle high-tech lux­ury fea­ture fit­ted to the ve­hi­cle in ques­tion. Is the top-line stereo work­ing prop­erly? Does the power trunk closer work with­out is­sue? Do the ven­ti­lated seats work? How about the rear-seat en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem? The head up dis­play? The key­less en­try? Work your way through the car, try­ing all of the fea­tures, and con­firm­ing proper op­er­a­tion, be­fore you drive. Check the cen­tral com­mand sys­tem Whether it’s iDrive (BMW), CO­MAND (Mercedes), MMI (AUDI), CUE (Cadil­lac), RTI (Lexus), or any other branded cen­tral com­mand in­ter­face avail­able, be sure to run the sys­tem through its paces. Con­nect a smart­phone via Blue­tooth, make and take calls, play me­dia from var­i­ous sources, tog­gle through all menus and com­mands and be ab­so­lutely cer­tain that the dis­play screen and con­troller, as well as all as­so­ci­ated but­tons, work con­sis­tently ev­ery time.

If the ve­hi­cle you’re con­sid­er­ing has a cen­tral con­trol knob, dial or joy­stick, con­firm that it works in ev­ery di­rec­tion and isn’t sticky, oth­er­wise, it may need re­place­ment. Con­firm proper op­er­a­tion of all steer­ing wheel-mounted con­trols, too. Avoid the air sus­pen­sion Many top-line sedans were of­fered with some form of air sus­pen­sion sys­tem — and you should prob­a­bly avoid used mod­els equipped with it. In years of re­search­ing used cars, I have yet to find an air sus­pen­sionequipped ride that doesn’t have own­ers re­port­ing is­sues as the sys­tem ages, leaks or fails. If you’re set on a ride with it, con­sider adding ex­tended war­ranty coverage that may pro­tect you from re­pair costs.

Watch for mod­i­fi­ca­tions Many used lux­ury sedans have been mod­i­fied by pre­vi­ous own­ers. Com­mon up­grades in­clude com­puter chips or tunes, par­tic­u­larly on tur­bocharged or su­per­charged mod­els de­signed to turn up en­gine power. Mod­i­fied en­gine man­age­ment soft­ware can make the car more pow­er­ful but could also ruin its en­gine and void any re­main­ing war­ranty coverage.

Own­ers also tend to pur­chase sus­pen­sion mod­i­fi­ca­tions that lower the ve­hi­cle, or slap on over­sized wheels. Sus­pen­sion mod­i­fi­ca­tions can cause wear, han­dling re­lated is­sues and dura­bil­ity prob­lems, es­pe­cially if the qual­ity of the parts or their in­stal­la­tion is poor. Over­sized wheels may be more sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age and can cause is­sues with han­dling or fit­ment, de­pend­ing on their size and qual­ity. Stick to a model that’s as close to stock as pos­si­ble.

Mind the bat­tery Mod­ern elec­tron­ics can get ul­tra fussy in the pres­ence of a weak bat­tery, and even more so in cars with loads of high-tech fea­tures, like a lux­ury sedan. If the model you’re after ex­hibits any ran­dom funny busi­ness with elec­tronic sys­tems, in­clud­ing symp­toms like spo­radic warn­ing mes­sages, flick­er­ing lights, or ran­dom non-func­tion­al­ity of var­i­ous fea­tures, a weak bat­tery may be to blame. Con­sider in­vest­ing in a trickle charger and hook­ing it up to your ride’s bat­tery when you won’t be driv­ing it for a few days or longer. A cheap unit can be had for about $30 and will keep the bat­tery topped up au­to­mat­i­cally, help­ing pre­vent po­ten­tially frus­trat­ing is­sues.

Con­sider the ad­di­tional costs You may be able to af­ford the lux­ury car, but can you af­ford to keep it rolling? Be sure to con­sider all ad­di­tional costs: high­end cars typ­i­cally cost more to in­sure, of­ten re­quire be­ing fed pricier pre­mium ga­so­line, and will be more main­te­nance-in­ten­sive than that Corolla you’re trad­ing in, with fluid changes, tune-ups and other re­cur­ring work. Note, too, that many re­place­ment costs for items like brakes, tires, sus­pen­sion com­po­nents and light­ing pro­vi­sions will be more ex­pen­sive as well.

Typ­i­cally, you buy a high-end lux­ury car for the mo­tor­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, not the low cost of own­er­ship. If your bud­get can’t han­dle it, a fully loaded ver­sion of a more main­stream ride may be a bet­ter idea.

You can get a great deal buy­ing a used lux­ury sedan, but take note that re­pairs and main­tance — not to men­tion the cost of fill­ing up on pre­mium fuel — could break your bud­get.

Torstar file photo

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