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I buy those cars that are turned in from a lease at half the price of new. I then drive the car for another150k to 200k. Yes I have some maintenance and repairs but it is at the fraction of a cost of buying or leasing every 3 years.
Just a rough example using big picture math.
lease or buy at 3 years and drive 50k miles. If you loose $12000 in depreciation that is 24 cents a mile. Plus increased of Tax and insurance not included in calculation.
buy a three year old car at $12000 + $8000 maintenance (which should be on the high side). And drive 150k miles that is 13 cents a mile. My last car that I just got rid of was $10000 + about $5000 maintenance and drove 180k since purchase before I hit a deer and totaled. Cost of ownership about 8 cents per mile.
every cars depreciation rate and expected miles and reliability is different but you can use general estimates to figure you cost per mile to own. I always buy cars with proven reliability history and drive to 200k plus miles.
New v used CAN be a different story. When I bought my Toyota Tacoma brand new, I paid several thousand less than identical 1-3 year old used models on the lot. I still haven't figured that one out.
"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, and speed is the economy of motion" - Scott Jedlinski