Shopping for a used vehicle? Analysis shows that 10-year-old model most sensible

If you’re shopping for a used truck, how about a 2007 Ford F150 pickup?

That’s right a 10-year-old model.

Which you then should drive for five years, based on a chart on Reddit and reported by MarketWatch, to squeeze the most possible value out of your vehicle, then repeat the process.

It may be more financially savvy to buy a 10-year-old Ford F150 than this new one.

The chart compared vehicle ownership costs under seven different scenarios comprising new, used and leased F150s. Those scenarios, from least- to most-expensive, are:

  1. Used, buy 10 years old, keep five years, repeat.
  2. Used, buy eight years old, keep eight years, repeat.
  3. Used, buy five years old, keep 10 years, repeat.
  4. New, keep 20 years.
  5. New, keep 10 years, repeat.
  6. New, keep five years, repeat.
  7. Three-year lease.

The cost of ownership of the four best scenarios (around $60,000) were about half the cost of leasing every three years (almost $120,000), according to the chart.

But if the F150 isn’t your choice, the analysis also covered used versus new vehicles in general.

While the results remain essentially the same (Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6), there are a couple differences, with the third-least expensive option represented by buying a three-year-old used vehicle, keeping it 15 years and then repeating, while the three-year lease calculation is not included.

In this case, the cost of ownership of the two best scenarios (around $40,000) is only 40 percent of the cost of buying a vehicle new and keeping it for only five years (about $100,000).

That’s a lot of savings, no matter what your financial circumstances, but especially if your vehicle payments represent a large chunk of your monthly bills. (It’s not supposed to be more than 10 percent of your gross monthly income, but many fail to heed that financial rule of thumb.)

Trying to capture that savings may be even more tempting with vehicles on U.S. roads now averaging more than 11.5 years old and recording about 15,000 miles per year.

Now, not everyone will be comfortable with the lowest-cost scenario – such as the 10-year-old F150 – but the next three lowest-cost options in that example, including buying new and keeping your vehicle for 20 years, were not significantly more expensive, the comparison shows.

Searching for 10-year-old F150 models on CarGurus.com, we found 233 within a 75-mile radius of a suburb of a major metro area, priced from $4,300 with 176,000 miles to $21,200 with 73,000 miles. The original F150 MSRP ranged from about $18,000 to $32,000-plus, according to various sources.

Of course, considerations other than cost and odometer mileage are important in shopping for a vehicle, but these comparisons suggest that buying used indeed may be the way to go for many shoppers.

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