There is no correlation to having multiple car owners in respect to the car value. Ideally, you want cars with just one previous owner since this would limit the amount of exposure to abuse, and neglect for needed maintenances or repairs. However, as a general rule of thumb, having 3+ owners should signal yellow flags in your mind while you have a mechanic run a thorough inspection on the car.
This guideline varies as you dive into different car markets—
- Vintage cars – The number of car owners will generally impact car values. There are some exceptions.
- Luxury cars – Supply is usually limited; the car number of car owners will usually be low
- Daily drivers – The number of car owners will impact car values until it reaches its price floor
If you’re in the market for a used car, you probably know that there are lots of things to consider before purchasing a vehicle. For many buyers, the number of owners a secondhand vehicle has previously had is a factor in whether or not they want to make the purchase.
Many people in the used car world are going after coveted ‘one-owner,’ vehicles, meaning that the car has only been owned and driven by one other individual before its sale. Even for two cars with the same make, model, and age, most buyers would prefer to purchase a one owner car rather than a multiple owner car.
If you’re in the market for a used car or have just been wondering what all the fuss is over these ‘one-owner’ vehicles, stay tuned.
In this article, we’ll be going over all the basics, like why having multiple owners matters, how to tell if your vehicle has had multiple owners, and how much multiple owners affect car value.
Why do Multiple Owners Matter?
If this is your first time purchasing a used vehicle or hearing about the ‘multiple owners’ phenomenon, let’s go over some of the basics to start. When a car is labeled as having had multiple owners, this means that the car has changed hands a couple of times before it’s gotten to you.
If a car has ‘one owner,’ it means that it’s only had one previous owner who likely bought the car new off the lot.
While a vehicle having multiple owners isn’t the most important factor in purchasing a vehicle, it ends up being a deciding factor in many used car purchases. If you are nervous about buying older cars, you should ideally look for cars that just have one previous owner.
There are many reasons for one-owner cars being preferable, but it mostly comes down to the care and maintenance of the vehicle. For example, if a buyer is looking at two used Corvettes with the same make and year and similar mileage, the number of previous owners would probably come into question.
If one of the Corvettes had multiple owners and the other had just one, most buyers would go with the one-owner car unless there was something seriously wrong with it.
For a one-owner Corvette, the car would have been bought and maintained by only one person, and if the car seems to be in good condition, it means they were probably a diligent car owner who took good care of it.
If the other Corvette has had a few different owners, it’s possible that not every owner was as attentive to maintenance as one would hope.
Cars with Multiple Owners, What Should You Do?
If the dealership or individual you’re buying your car from can’t tell you whether the vehicle has had multiple owners, it’s a good idea to find out that information before committing to the purchase.
The simplest and cheapest way to do this is to check the vehicle’s service records if you have access to them. Service records show the vehicle’s maintenance history and usually list the owner’s name as well.
If you only see one name on the maintenance records over a period of many years, it’s likely that the vehicle has only had one owner. If there are multiple names listed, it’s an easy way to tell that the car has had multiple owners. Service records are useful in general to check before purchasing a vehicle, as they can also give you some insight as to how the vehicle has been serviced and maintained over the years.
It’s possible that the used vehicle you’re looking at doesn’t come with service records or has records without any listed names of previous owners. If this is the case, don’t worry! There are other ways you can check the car’s history, though they might cost you a little bit. Companies such as CarFax, VinHistory, and AutoCheck can give you a vehicle history report, for a price. These reports typically cost less than $50 and include information such as if the car has had any previous accidents, how many owners the vehicle has had, service history, and much more.
Considering there is a risk that a used car you purchase may have underlying problems, it’s a good idea to find out as much information as possible before finalizing the sale.
How Do Multiple Owners Affect a Car’s Value?
If you’re about to purchase a car with multiple owners or already own a vehicle with multiple owners, you might be wondering how this status will affect your car’s value. The good news is that while multiple owners certainly can affect a car’s value, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue if the vehicle is already in good condition.
It is true, however, that each time a car is bought and sold it depreciates due to wear and tear and a large number of other factors, including:
- General Condition and Reliability
- Service History
- Fuel Economy
Because most vehicles lose 50% to 60% of their original value in the first three years of ownership, it can be difficult to pinpoint whether a vehicle having multiple owners is the culprit of a car’s depreciation.
Why is this?
- Owners do not take care of their cars
- Reckless, aggressive driving styles
- Inconsistent maintenance
For example, if a Dodge Charger has been driven by three different owners, it’s possible that while some of those owners were very responsible with mileage and maintenance, others might not have been.
If you have a previous owner that drives double the recommended 10k-12k miles a year, your Dodge Charger could depreciate as much as 5% in one year, assuming no problems.
Should You Buy a Car with Multiple Owners?
So, you might be wondering whether you should consider buying a car with multiple owners or if it’s better to be safe than sorry on this matter.
It’s definitely up to you but having multiple owners usually shouldn’t be a dealbreaker on an otherwise well-maintained vehicle.
While it’s good to consider one-owner vehicles and keep them in mind as a rule of thumb, don’t rule out a possible gem just because it has had more than one owner!
If everything else looks good and you’ve done your due diligence, there is no reason you shouldn’t make a jump on the purchase!
Another thing to keep in mind is that depending on the age of the vehicle you’re buying, it might be highly unlikely to come across a one-owner vehicle.
If you’re interested in a vehicle that is fifteen years old, it’s perfectly normal for the car to have had a couple of owners over the years. However, if you’re looking at a five-year-old vehicle that has had six previous owners, that would be a huge red flag.
If a vehicle has changed hands many times in a short time, it could be a sign that the previous owners have been unhappy with the car and that it could be a lemon. Proceed carefully and use your best judgment!
As a general rule of thumb, having more than 3 owners should be questionable while having your car checked by a mechanic.
Wrapping Things Up
In conclusion, while multiple owners are certainly something to keep an eye out for when purchasing a used vehicle, you shouldn’t worry too much about it since there are so many more important factors to consider first.
Car prices will vary depending on demand, parts quality, and practicality. For instance, certain vintage or luxury cars may still demand a high premium even after swapping multiple owners.
Compare that to newer models of a beater car or daily drivers, prices will plummet after 1 owner and will remain at or near its price floor despite having a ton of extra owners or having a bad car history.
It can be confusing to determine whether or not a used car is a good purchase, and the ‘one-owner’ vs ‘multiple owners’ debate can complicate things even further.
While figuring out whether a multiple owner used vehicle is right for you is never going to be completely straightforward, you now know about the factors that go into a used car’s value and have the knowledge to better make an important purchasing decision.
Make sure you keep up to date with other car trends as well—