Shop around long enough and you’ll find some fantastic deals on the second-hand market. You’ll be amazed at how much fast and fancy 4×4 your money can buy. But think carefully before pulling the trigger: even a bargain can end up costing you a fortune.
Total cost of ownership
There are plenty of large and luxurious SUVs out there that don’t hold their value incredibly well, which means that you can often buy an excellent vehicle for a fraction of the original purchase price. For instance, you can purchase a 2012 Range Rover Sport with a 5.0-litre supercharged engine and less than 100 000km on the clock for around R400 000. Similarly, you can buy a 2013 Lexus LX570 with a 5.7-litre engine and 100 000km on the clock for R700 000. Owning a superbly comfortable and very powerful vehicle for that kind of money is incredibly tempting. Take one of these 4×4s for a test drive, and you’ll fall in love immediately.
Before you sign on the dotted line, however, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what’s called ‘total cost of ownership’. True, you’re getting a great vehicle at a bargain price, but you’ll still be paying a premium for the experience. Assuming for the moment that all is in order and there are no ticking time bombs lurking beneath the bonnet of your new 4×4, here are the other costs that you need to consider before declaring that your prospective new luxury vehicle is incredibly affordable.
Large and powerful SUVs tend to have thirsty engines, which means you need to consider the fuel bill. Using a vehicle with a 5.0-litre supercharged engine as a daily driver can cost you thousands every month in fuel. You could end up spending about as much on fuel as you do on instalments. Moreover, constant trips to the service station can become downright annoying. A website like www.fuelly.com can provide you with accurate consumption statistics for just about any car imaginable. Take a careful look at these figures and make sure that you know exactly how many kilometres you travel every month.
Luxury cars can be expensive to insure, so keep this in mind when calculating the overall monthly cost of the vehicle. Also, be sure to shop around, since premiums can differ quite a bit from one insurer to the next. Another important thing to keep in mind is what you’ll be using a vehicle for. Don’t assume that your insurance covers overlanding, 4×4 trails and track excursions. If you’ll be overlanding through Africa or hitting the offroad trail on a regular basis, you probably need 4×4 insurance that covers these activities.
Never underestimate the expense that a new set of tyres can represent, especially when you’re replacing a set of off-road tyres or wide and low-profile performance rubber. You could easily be forced to spend more than R20 000, so check the tyres before buying a vehicle. Find out how much life is left in the current set, and check what a new set will cost.
Even a regular service can be expensive when it comes to luxury vehicles, so find out what sort of bill you’re in for. One of the downsides of a used vehicle is that it tends to be out of date of its service/maintenance plan, which means that everything is coming straight out of your own pocket. These days, you can buy a service/ maintenance plan for a used vehicle, which can be worth it, but check the fine print to make sure that you’re properly covered. None of these plans are created equal.
Even if your used vehicle is in great condition when you buy it, there will come a time when you need to repair something. When you’re dealing with an expensive and sophisticated luxury SUV, these repairs can be disturbingly expensive. Replacing a turbo or gearbox can easily cost tens of thousands. As with a maintenance/service plan, you can purchase a warranty for your used vehicle, but these also need to be inspected carefully. Pay attention to what the exclusions are. For example, you want to make sure that a turbo or gearbox is actually covered by the warranty.
Above: A 2012 Range Rover Sport (left) or a 2013 Lexus LX570 (right) might seem like a bargain on the second-hand market, but be aware that a luxury vehicle is still expensive to own. Fuel, tyres and services are sure to be pricey. Below: As the man behind RFS Auto – which buys and sells tested and inspected used vehicles – Chris du Plooy knows the second-hand market.