In the past few months of autoTRADER.ca’s Depreciation Appreciation feature, we’ve highlighted numerous used high-end car models that are available, at just a few years old, for a fraction of their original MSRP. Depreciation is a beautiful thing for the used car shopper after all – and that’s especially true when it means you can access a big-dollar driving experience without the big-dollar price-tag.
In Depreciation Appreciation, the focus lies on pricing and possibilities – showcasing what the subject vehicle once cost, and what you can buy one for today. In this used-vehicle mashup, at the request of numerous readers, we’ll call on some of the most popular rides from recent Depreciation Appreciation features, while focusing on some tips and advice for shopping smart for the ride that interests you most.
With 429 available horsepower, handsome styling, and all of the big-dollar luxury features you could shake a stick at, today, this market-challenging luxury sedan can be had for under $30,000, all day long. All units got rear-wheel drive, heaps of space, and packed either a 3.8L V6 with up to 333 horsepower, or a 4.6L or 5.0L V8, with the better part of 430 horsepower available. Notable attributes include creamy-smooth ride quality, and a very refined driveline.
Check all exterior lighting for proper operation, and signs of condensation within headlight and tail-lamp housings, which can cause issues. A full check of the paint condition, chrome condition, and all ornamentation is also advised. Especially on models with up-sized wheels, a check of the tires for signs of damage, including bubbling and cracking, is a great idea. Confirm all on-board electronics work as expected, focusing on the steering-wheel-mounted controls, seat-heater controls, and climate control system.
Check for proper oil level and condition, especially on units with the V8 engine, and plan to monitor oil levels frequently during ownership, advising your dealer service centre at the first sign of consumption if the vehicle is still under factory warranty. Any unwelcome noises, like scraping or squealing, from the brakes, warrants further investigation. The area beneath the trunk carpeting and spare tire well should be inspected for signs of a possible water leak, too.
Newer versions of the Genesis Sedan used engines running direct injection – which is noted for potential issues with valve-gunk buildup in many applications, across numerous makes and models. Using a top-tier fuel at all times, changing oil often and early, and (especially) changing spark plugs often and early, can indirectly help fend off valve-gunk buildup in engines like this.
All-wheel drive? You got it. A lusty Yamaha-built V8? You got it. A silky straight-six turbo engine? Sure, it’s got that, too. The discreetly handsome Volvo S80 was, for years, the Swedish brand’s flagship sedan – and a model that offered world-class comfort, traction, safety and luxury appointments for its drivers. Available in anything from a front-drive four-cylinder model to an AWD sleeper sedan with a V8, the S80 was many things to many flagship luxury shoppers. If you’re a used luxury flagship shopper, rejoice: resale values have dropped substantially on this machine – and you can find a two-year-old copy of this once-$65,000 car for half that amount, every day of the week.
Spend some quality time confirming proper operation of the park-assist system, central command system, Bluetooth, all lighting provisions, the keyless start system, and navigation, if equipped – confirming proper functionality of each. Note that some owners have complained of non-functioning or poorly functioning air conditioning, likely caused by a bad bearing in the compressor, or a refrigerant leak. Have the engine cooling system inspected for proper fluid levels, and any signs of leaks or other issues, too.
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Brakes that feel all mushy are likely suffering from a bad master cylinder, and may hiss loudly when applied. This is a safety concern – so stop driving immediately. Finally, have a Volvo technician assess the condition of all AWD system components, if equipped, with an eye for fluid leaks. Change all associated fluids if service records are unavailable.
Given the relative affordability of this model, consider spending a few extra bucks to add any extended warranty coverage that may be available, for a truly confident ownership experience.
Selection galore, world-class features, and no shortage of engines and drivelines create plenty of possibilities in the latest generation of BMW’s famous luxury sedan. With four-, six- or eight-cylinder power, rear- or all-wheel drive, and numerous equipment packages and standalone options on offer, finding a used 5 Series from this generation that perfectly fits your needs, tastes and budget should be a cinch. The goodies? High-end audio systems, heated leather, navigation, a head-up display, automatic climate control, a rear-window sunshade, push-button start, xenon lighting, and plenty more were all on board.
This generation of 5 Series can be fussy about having a just-right amount of battery charge to start its engine, and to keep numerous electronics systems working properly. So, whether any problems are detected or not, having the battery and charging system checked ahead of your purchase is a good idea. Hooking up a trickle charger while you’re not driving your 5 Series for more than a few days is a good idea, too.
Try all installed body-mounted cameras, from the rear-view camera, to the around-view cameras, ensuring proper functionality. Any failure of a camera to initialize, or any Camera Malfunction messages in the central screen are likely indicators that the camera in question needs replacement.
Avoid a model with the potentially problematic Dynamic Drive system, which includes adjustable suspension dampers. If you’re set on a model with this system, be 200 percent sure to have a mechanic check the system out for overall health. Faulty fluid pumps have been noted by numerous owners as the cause of a world of serious problems with this system. Warning messages in the driver computer referencing the “DYNAMIC DRIVE” system are a key warning sign.
Regardless of the model or engine in question, have a BMW technician scrutinize the cooling system, with a full check including fluid level and condition, and a full check-over for signs of coolant leaks, especially on the V8 engine.
Due to well-documented issues with the 4.4L V8 twin-turbo engine in the 550i variant of this 5-Series, including difficult-to-repair coolant leaks and timing chain issues, shoppers are advised to avoid this engine altogether. If you’re absolutely set on a 550i, consider add-on powertrain warranty coverage to be absolutely mandatory, and to protect your wallet from turning inside out in the case of engine problems.
With Quattro AWD available across the model range, heaps of high-tech, handsome styling and safety to spare, the 2012 and newer Audi A6 makes for a confidence-inspiring all-weather luxury sedan. Look for a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, or a 3.0L V6 in either supercharged gasoline, or turbocharged diesel. A full array of driver assistance systems was also on offer. The A6 is largely loved by owners for its comfort, looks, and all-season traction. Fuel mileage is also said to be highly reasonable, even with the supercharged gasoline V6.
Start by confirming proper operation of the cruise control, the climate control (especially the air conditioner), and the MMI multimedia interface. A fussy MMI system may be in need of a hard reset, or some new system component, so be sure to have any non-functionality investigated. Remember to try the command dial in all positions, several times, ensuring all control-knob detents work as expected.
Note that in other applications, the 2.0T engine has some well-documented issues with water pumps, timing chain tensioners, oil consumption and valve-gunk. If you’re set on a used A6 with this engine, have an Audi mechanic check it out, front to back, after explaining these concerns. Extended powertrain warranty coverage is a good idea here, too. If your budget allows, the TDI model is an excellent choice – provided a mechanic clears the fuel delivery system, coolant system and engine management computer and sensor network with a clean bill of health. Note that models with the 3.0L supercharged gasoline engine should be checked for signs of coolant leaks and premature water-pump failure.
Some owners of models with the 3.0L supercharged gas V6 alter the supercharger with a non-factory pulley to generate more power. The average driver should most likely avoid a model with this sort of modification: it can adversely affect engine reliability, durability, and void any remaining warranty coverage, even if the parts are set back to stock before a visit to the dealer.
Here’s a great pick in a rocket-propelled luxury sedan that (probably) won’t break the bank when it comes time for a tune-up or repair. Unlike many models on this list, the fire-breathing 300 SRT8 generates its power the good old-fashioned way: with a big, simple and highly effective V8 engine, displacing 6.1L or 6.4L, and generating the better part of 500 horsepower, depending on the model in question.
Discreet-looking and comfortable enough for daily use, this sleeper sedan is fast, sticky and has powerful Brembo brakes and a track-validated suspension. Highly reasonable used pricing, a solid-looking driveline and relatively low running costs (other than fuel, obviously), make it a budget-friendly rocket sedan.
Look for plenty of room for four or five adults, a big trunk, and all luxury sedan must-haves, including xenon lighting, premium audio, quality leather, and navigation.
Approach a used 300 SRT8 assuming it needs tires, brake pads, brake rotors and a full fluid change and tune-up, until you or a mechanic confirm otherwise.
Note that any strange sensations from the transmission may be the result of corrupted programming, or some issue with the transmission’s computer brain. A bad sensor may also cause issues. Any slippage, hard shifting, or hesitation to shift noted on your test drive should be taken as cause for further investigation. Any sporadic or fluctuating idle issues are likely sensor-related in nature, with a bad throttle-position sensor being the main suspect.
Confirm proper operation of the UConnect system, running the system through its paces, several times. Have the vehicle’s driveshaft, axles, rear differential and rear subframe, and associated mounting points, inspected for integrity or any evidence of cracking or tearing. This is especially important if the unit in question has ever been used in any form of motorsports.
Change those fluids – and change them all. If service records are unavailable, a change of engine oil, engine coolant, differential, transmission, brake and power steering fluid is highly advised. You can’t over-change fluids, and with a full complement of fresh fluids, your new-to-you 300 SRT8 will repay the favour with improved durability and long-term reliability.