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If you’re in the market for a luxury car but don’t want to pay the exorbitant price for a new one, a used car is the way to go. Although shopping for a luxury car is not unlike shopping for a non-luxury model, there are some things to look out for. Check out these five tips before purchasing a used luxury car.

1. Determine how much of a car you can afford

A 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class driving down the street
Mercedes-Benz-C-Class | Mercedes-Benz

Your budget is the first thing to pay attention to when shopping for any car, but this goes double when looking at a used luxury car. We recommend shopping for a car online via sites like Autotrader and CarGurus to find luxury cars within your budget and your local area.

No, you really don’t need a Mercedes-Benz S-Class as your first luxury car. Fortunately, you can set the search parameters to fit your budget so you’re not tempted by more expensive cars that will have you pinching pennies every month. Luxury cars can be pricey, so being realistic about what you can afford is key.

2. Check the vehicle history reports

A screenshot of a CarFax report
A screenshot of a CarFax report | CarFax

Once you have narrowed down your shortlist of luxury cars, it’s important to check the vehicle history reports for each of them. Most car dealership listings provide free CarFax or AutoCheck reports directly on the listing, enabling you to see the vehicle’s history.

These reports will tell you how many owners the car has had, any accidents, and even the states where it’s been registered. Most importantly, you can track the vehicle’s auto repair and maintenance history.

3. Get a pre-purchase inspection done

A customer vehicle receiving an oil change from an auto mechanic at the Gates Automotive Service shop
A mechanic performing an oil change | Jon Cherry via Getty Images

We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a pre-purchase inspection when purchasing any used car. But it’s even more critical when purchasing a luxury car due to the high price of replacement parts and service labor.

Most pre-purchase inspections can cost around $100 to $200, but that money is worth it. A qualified mechanic can tell you what the car needs and alert you of any damages. Ultimately, the inspection can save you thousands of dollars, especially if the car isn’t worth buying.

4. Avoid air suspensions, if possible

The first-ever BMW XM luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicle SUV model in Marina Bay Blue Metallic
BMW XM | BMW Group

This may seem like an odd tip, but hear us out. Many high-end luxury cars come equipped with adaptive air suspensions that provide a pillow-soft ride and firm up when needed. An air suspension is nice to have and can give the car the luxurious ride you’re looking for, but we advise against it.

Many air suspensions are known to leak and fail over time. The components are expensive and can cost a lot to replace, so it’s better to avoid buying a car with one, if possible.

5. Make sure you can afford the additional costs of owning a luxury car

Even though you can afford a luxury car, remember that the upfront cost isn’t all you will pay. Every used luxury car must be maintained and will need repairs over time. These maintenance and repair items can cost a lot, so it’s essential to have a budget for them.

Buying a used luxury car can be tricky

If you want to sit in the lap of luxury while commuting to work, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Buying a pre-owned luxury car isn’t too unlike buying a regular commuter vehicle, but it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour when shopping for one. By following these tips, you could be saved from many headaches and financial pain.