If you’re shopping for a used vehicle, there are myriad things to consider before whipping out your wallet. The money-minded shopper’s typical first step is to determine what kind of value they’re going to be getting. A great online resource for this is UsedFirst.com.
The #1 reason many people choose used cars in the first place is because they’re typically cheaper than new vehicles. But to get the very best deal for your money, you need to know which model offers the most value.
UsedFirst.com helps car shoppers find best depreciation
That’s where UsedFirst.com comes in. The website assists car shoppers by showing them the typical depreciation curve of a particular vehicle. While the site doesn’t claim that its numbers are perfect, it’s a pretty cool depreciation awareness tool that can be used along with other resources.
The thing about UsedFirst.com is that there’s also an element of timeliness to it. Assuming you’re interested in buying a car today, the site shows the best current values for vehicles across a 12-year model span by coming up with a number called the Net Used Value score.
This is how UsedFirst.com comes up with its Net Used Value score, according to its website: “We subtract the percentage paid at each year from the original price and factor in typical maintenance costs for that make & model. The remaining figure is simply a ranking & sorting index. The higher the number, the more retained value.”
Here’s how UsedFirst.com works
If you select the make and model of the vehicle you’re interested in, the site tabulates a number of metrics, including price decline, expected reliable years left and typical maintenance costs.
As an exercise, we input a BMW as the make and a 3 Series as the model and hit the red “Go” button. What came back was a graph that determined that we’d get the absolute “Best” value if we purchased a 2013 model. The 2015 and 2012 model years were both identified as “Good” values.
Now, you may be saying that the 2015 model is obviously the better value, but here’s how UsedFirst.com sums up its findings: “On average, you should expect to pay only 43% of the original cost with 58% of the vehicle’s lifetime remaining for a 2013 model. That gives it a Net Used Value score of 14.95 which factors in expected annual maintenance, price decline & reliable years left.”
So according to UsedFirst.com’s calculations, the 2013 may be two years older but its decline at 11.59% is way less than the 2015 model’s 22.03% decline plus you’ll only pay about 43% of the car’s original purchase vs. 75% for the newer car.
Here’s a graphical representation of UsedFirst.com’s Net Used Value score on the 2013 BMW 3 Series:
UsedFirst.com: Not just for car shoppers
The thing is, UsedFirst.com is also valuable for sellers. The depreciation curves can help sellers determine when the best time may be for them to dump their vehicles. The site also links out to car listings so you can see what similar vehicles fetch on the open market.
Money expert Clark Howard says as you do your research into buying a used car, you may be looking into a “certified pre-owned vehicle.” Who certified the vehicle? What does this certification entail? See what Clark says the term “certified pre-owned” is really all about.