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Buying a Used Performance Car: The Hidden Costs

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2014

The used performance car of your dreams may certainly seem like a bargain. Whether it's a Ferrari or a Mustang, sporty used cars tend to offer similar performance as they did when they were new at a fraction of the cost. But before you sign the papers on a high-performance used car, you may want to consider a few costly items that can take some of the fun out of owning the car of your dreams. 

Fuel

By definition, sports cars are more fun to drive than traditional family cars, vans and SUVs -- and that's usually because they have larger engines with more power. That means fuel costs can quickly become very expensive -- especially if you take the kind of spirited drives you're likely to enjoy in a performance car. We suggest that you remember to budget for excess fuel costs when considering a performance car, as you'll pay a premium at the pump on nearly any sporty model. 

Insurance

Do you get a lot of tickets? If so, maybe a high-performance sports car isn't for you. Insurance companies are traditionally cautious about covering fast cars, and that caution increases dramatically if you have a bad driving record or prior claims. Be sure to call for an insurance quote before buying the high-performance car of your dreams -- and be ready to wait a few years for tickets to fall off your record if insurance rates are initially too high. 

Maintenance/Repairs

While some high-performance vehicles cost about the same as a normal car to own, many are engineered to perform at the limit, which means that some parts wear faster than you might expect. Examples include tires, suspension and even some engine parts, and when they do break, replacement parts (and labor) can be costly. As a result, we suggest you budget extra money to fix nearly any high-performance sports car you might be considering. 

Tires

Most performance cars come with high-performance "summer" tires. Not only do these tires wear faster than typical ones, they usually need to be replaced, as well, if you want to drive your performance car of choice in the winter. As a result, we suggest saving room in your budget for tires if you want to buy a high-performance used car. 

Travel

If you're seeking a unique or low-production performance car, it's possible that you won't find one nearby. As a result, you may have to budget extra money for travel so that when you find the right car on AutoTrader.com, you can fly or drive to see it and drive or ship it back. Keep in mind that such a trip may require hotel stays, fuel stops and lots of coffee. 

We're certainly in favor of you buying the sports car of your dreams, as life is short and driving a fast car can be highly enjoyable. But we strongly recommend you make room in your budget for such a car, as sporty cars can include many hidden costs.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Buying a Used Performance Car: The Hidden Costs - Autotrader