Before I decided on the Ford Explorer Platinum, I considered several other cars. My decisions and criteria changed numerous times throughout the process.
Considering Salvaged and Rebuilt Cars
Initially, I was on a tight budget and sought the most affordable option. I explored rebuilt cars on eBay but eventually abandoned this idea due to several concerns:
- Reselling a rebuilt car can be challenging as potential buyers may lowball you and financing can be difficult.
- Trusting the seller’s repair quality is not always easy. Online VIN searches can reveal discrepancies between the advertised and actual repair work.
- Some states, like New York, mandate inspections for rebuilt titles, adding a minor inconvenience.
- Many rebuilt cars on eBay were located far from me, making it difficult to view them in person during the COVID pandemic.
These factors led me to prioritize clean titled cars instead.
The primary purpose of purchasing my new car was to embark on a long-awaited cross-country road trip and then use it for daily commuting afterward. Before settling on the Ford Explorer Platinum, I considered several alternatives:
- Subaru Legacy: Initially, this compact car with decent MPG was my top choice.
- Ford Taurus: I soon realized that I wanted a larger vehicle for the road trip, so the Taurus came into the picture.
- Ford Taurus SHO: Upon further research, I discovered the SHO trim level, which features a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine with twin-turbo, producing 365 HP. The idea of owning a car with twin-turbo always appealed to me.
- Trucks: I have always had a soft spot for trucks, and their long wheelbase ensures a comfortable ride during extended trips. However, the downside is that I wouldn’t be using the truck bed, and maneuvering and parking in congested urban areas would prove challenging.
- Ford Explorer Platinum: My final choice needed to be future-proof, anticipating potential family needs while still offering creature comforts and a powerful engine.
My initial car budget was set at $10,000, but it gradually increased to $37,000. Here’s how that happened:
- $10,000 Budget: At first, I considered salvage cars, but none of the options under $10,000 caught my eye.
- $15,000 Budget: Rebuilt Ford Taurus SHO models were available for around $15,000, so I adjusted my budget accordingly.
- $25,000 Budget: Rebuilt Ford Explorer Platinum models were priced around $25,000, prompting another budget increase.
- $32,000 Budget: I began exploring clean-titled Ford Explorer Platinum options, which necessitated raising the budget yet again.
- $35,000 Budget: To account for potential repairs, I decided to add an additional warranty, causing another budget increase.
- $37,000 Budget: After considering the car’s cost, warranty, and taxes, I estimated the final price to be around $37,000. Although it’s a hefty sum for a used car, the COVID pandemic had inflated prices.
Had the search continued, I might have considered increasing the budget to $45,000 to purchase a 2018 Ford Explorer Platinum instead of a 2017 model. Fortunately, my financial constraints kept me from taking that step, and my budget never reached $45,000. Despite the challenges, the entire process taught me valuable lessons about budgeting and adapting to changing circumstances in the car market.
Where to buy the car?
Initially, I intended to purchase my car from CarMax, but I explored a few alternatives before ultimately buying from a Ford dealership.
- CarMax: Known for its no-haggle pricing, excellent extended warranty plans, and reputed quality control for used cars, CarMax seemed like a great option. However, their prices tend to be slightly higher compared to other sources.
- Carvana: A friend recommended Carvana for its seamless buying experience and direct-to-home shipping. Unfortunately, the limited inventory of Ford Explorer Platinum models made it difficult to secure one before they sold out.
- Ford Dealership: In the end, I bought my car from an authorized Ford dealership. One advantage of purchasing a preowned Ford from such a dealership is the limited warranty (1 year/12,000 miles) and Powertrain Limited Warranty (7 years/100,000 miles) that comes with it. Surprisingly, the buying process was painless, as I found the car and dealership through TrueCar.com, and most negotiations were conducted via text. The original quote was $38,000 out the door (OTD), including an extended warranty, but I managed to negotiate it down to $37,000 OTD. Due to COVID’s impact on the seller’s market, there was limited room for negotiation.
As demonstrated, car buying involves considerable research