I'm looking to buy a very nice yet still inexpensive car, a 2007-08 Porsche Cayman. I've seem many listing at reasonable prices, but am worried about one thing. Certain cars are listed as "1 Owner", and have a slightly increased price as a result.

Does the number of owners on a car affect its value?

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    My best personal finance tip would be: don't buy a luxury car. Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 0:06
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    As a data point, I'm the 26th owner of my convertible two-seater.
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 7:22
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    @EricDuminil That'd be great advice if two things were true. The first is that the Porsche is considered luxury. While it may be a luxury to own rather than a necessity, it's a performance vehicle meant for things such as racing and tracks. The second is that the reason for not buying luxury cars is large depreciation, and the lesser value of the car as a result. I'm avoiding that not only by buying used, but in that the car is over 7 years old and at the end of it's depreciation curve, meaning its resale value will still hold in a few years. Neither point takes money into consideration...
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 15:35
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    @Criggie And how does it run? :P
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 15:37
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    @Anoplexian: You're right that it's probably a good idea to be at this point on the depreciation curve. But with this car, you'll also pay much more for insurance, gas and repairs. I also find it plain wasteful to ride a car which could literally heat a dozen of single family houses with its exhaust. With climate change and peak oil, cars will become less useful everyday, especially inefficient ones. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 21:56

4 Answers 4


The value is affected by whatever people are willing to pay. Most consumers would rather purchase a car with a single-owner history, which drives up demands for single-owner cars, which drives up the price.

A single-owner car doesn't always mean it's been driven and maintained any better than a multi-owner car. Ultimately, what you need to be looking for is accurate maintenance records (typically easier to get from a single owner as subsequent owners may not have kept all previous documentation), and seeing what shape the vehicle is in. Get it checked by a mechanic you trust prior to making the purchase.

In agreement with Pete's answer about it being in practice, here's a blurb from Auto-Trader:

There are several reasons why one-owner cars are considered to be the darlings of the used-car world. The primary reason is a consistent maintenance and driving history. If someone buys a new car and drives it for a decade, it's likely that car received roughly the same level of care -- and the same driving experience -- throughout that time period. With multiple owners, a car may have been subjected to various levels of care and a wide range of different driving styles, which may negatively affect its long-term dependability.

Another reason why one-owner cars are so sought-after is that the original owner, who purchased the car new, likely has more financial resources to devote to maintenance and upkeep than, say, a sixth owner who buys the car when it's 15 years old and costs $3,000.


If last 3 owners got rid of the car withing 12 months, why wouldn't you want to do that too?

Usually (but not always) a car that had several owners have something that made their owners not enjoying owning them, so they got rid of it before usually people do. For example: the car wears the tires very quickly, fuel consumption is much higher than expected, has several hidden issues that would cost expensive to fix (usually this is the most often reason). All these factors lead to the owner to sell the car prematurely.

Several owners, several abuses

Even if the car is otherwise good, different drivers may inflict different abuses to the car. Most people keep the car well but have one or more specific points that is overlooked, since nobody is perfect and usually those points vary from people to people. E.g. First owner keep the car well but drove the car on the track, second never drove on the track, but the skipped some oil changes, third never drove in the track neither skipped oil changes, but the streets of his neighborhood were poor so the suspension suffered.


According to KBB, the answer is no. There is no valuation criteria for a car only having one owner.

However, in practice, a one owner car can be seen as a bit more valuable. If a car has 3 or 4 owners in a short time period, people tend to ask why. Does this car have a history of mechanical problems? Is there a higher than expected cost to operate this vehicle? Were repairs made that hid the actual cost of repairing a vehicle and in turn made the actual vehicle much more expensive?

  • Nice answer. Is this question on topic here? If this is gray, where are we drawing the line? Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 15:01
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    @JoeTaxpayer: I think it is general enough to be on topic. It could easily be useful to an average person making financial decisions about car buying. If it started getting into "is a ZX-427 injection really worth an extra $500 compared to the QQK-1000" that would probably move beyond finances into auto enthusiasm.
    – BrenBarn
    Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 6:10
  • @BrenBarn - got it. I appreciate the response, and example. Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 11:06

I'm the third owner of one of my cars, not that I asked, but I saw that the previous owner didn't match the name on some of the documentation from the dealership that was still in the glove box. I bought it because the car was 4 years old, but only had 30k miles on it.

What matters is how the vehicle was maintained and how many miles it has on it. Maintenance records and the odometer should answer that question. Some people talk about highway miles vs. city miles, but that will be reflected in the condition of the fluids (brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, etc.) so a quick inspection of the other dipsticks and reservoirs under the hood will tell you enough of the rest of the story. The last thing you might look at if you're really concerned are the thickness of the brake pads and how the tread on the tires wears. Listen for noises and test the suspension on bumps at slow and fast speeds.

I wouldn't be at all inclined to spend more on a car that only had one owner. The only thing that would increase my bid is if I knew that it was garaged instead of parked on the street (reflected in the paint job and the interior finishes).

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