Pros and Cons of buying a second-hand European car


There’s a lot about European cars that add that extra little frisson to the avid car enthusiast’s day. For many of us, buying a BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Porsche or (Gasp! Swoon!) Ferrari is on our most cherished bucket list. It’s a want-to-do before we die kind of proposition.


And what’s not to love? European cars have the cultural cache, the streamlined good looks, the quirky individuality (Renaults, Minis and Volkswagons, I’m looking at you) and serious mojo beneath the hood that can get any revhead’s motor running overtime.


However, as much as we like to fantasise, the price tag for a brand new, state-of-the-art, latest model dream car is, for most of us, prohibitive. That’s why lots of people consider buying a second-hand European car – it’s a great way to achieve your dream car without going into hock for years (another option is rent to buy, but more about that in another blog).


If you’re looking to put a new European model in your garage, there’s a few things you need to consider first. Here’s our list of pros and cons to check through before you buy:


The pros of buying a second-hand European car.


  • You know you’ll always look good behind the wheel. They have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi' your standard models can't match. From the leather hand-stitched seating to the sleek lines that bring to mind a rocket’s fuselage, every element of your second-hand European dream car is designed to make you feel extraordinary.
  • Amazing attention to detail. The big European car makers – like BMW and Mercedes Benz (and maybe even more so if you splash out on a Lamborghini or Maserati) – think of every little thing to make your driving experience extra special. For instance, BMW has one guy who's only job it is to make sure your vehicle emits the perfect ‘car' noises – including engines, wipers working or a boot closing with a soft, satisfying ‘snick.' You can't put a price on that kind of everyday personal gratification.
  • Great if you know your owner history. If you can find a model with low mileage and a gentle owner whose kept your baby running smoothly and purr-fectly, you're sitting pretty. Your choice of pre-owned European car will be a winner – remember that pre-warned is always forearmed.
  • Super safety records. European cars are known for their incredible safety features. If you want your family to feel safe and secure driving the streets, a Volvo is your first point of call. Even the snazzier options will perform better safety-wise than your run of the mill Asian-made family car.
  • Ultra fuel efficiency. With the cost of filling up at the bowser continually on the rise, it just makes sense to choose a car that's explicitly built not to guzzle petrol.


The cons of buying a second-hand European car.


  • Reliability might not be as good as you think. Roy Morgan Research consumer reports show that other makes like Lexus and Toyota are more reliable on the road, buck for buck.
  • Higher repair and servicing costs. Compared with Japanese made cars, you’ll end up paying more for a second-hand European model with high mileage, depending on its vehicle and owner history.
  • The chance of a lemon can spoil your day – or your year. While second-hand European cars feel more special than the standard mass makes everyone seems to drive, to take full advantage of all the great features you need to buy new and switch it up every few years before the factory warranty runs out. Otherwise, you could be left with a dud that requires endless servicing to keep driving like the dream you had of fuss-free European car ownership.