SHOULD I BUY NEW OR USED?
FRI, 12/28/2015 - 11:29AM
The choice to buy a new or used Segway seems to be one that is asked quite frequently. Just like with cars why buy new when someone else can take the hit on depreciation, right? There are several things that must be taken into account when choosing which route is best for you.
Used machines can be found all over the internet from Ebay to Craigslist however those too good to be true deals are many times just that. I am often confronted with “well I can get one on craigslist for $1,200” which may be true, but did you bother to contact the individual to gather any information about it? More importantly, do you know anything about it buying a used Segway and what to look for? Buying a used Segway can be like buying used boat; Sure it starts up and floats but there is plenty more that could be lying underneath. Many times by the time you realize what needs to be fixed you are close to the purchase price of a new one. Lets look at when buying a used Segway is bad before we move onto the rare instance when it may be beneficial.
I wish I could say there are several factors that determine the value of a used Segway but in reality there is basically one that I personally believe about 80-90% of price should come from:batteries. Batteries are the largest expense of repair on machines and the most common. Their lifespan is predetermined and replacement is inevitable. Don’t let people sell you on a units low mileage either, the biggest killer of batteries is time. Unless someone is approaching the 5,000 mile mark I wouldn’t even say it starts to play a role.
Batteries tend to have a 4-5 year shelf life depending on usage and storing condition. Sometimes this can be shorter depending on how a unit was stored (cold garage), sometimes longer if the unit was well taken care of. The price of batteries is around $2,000 as you need two to operate a machine ($935 each). What I tell people is that you will generally save money up front but in time will have to sink your savings back into the machine. It’s like anything else you pay now or you pay later but eventually you will have to pay. In the end you may end up saving a little money but you also run the risk of a used unit needing a costly repair. It’s basically a gamble that most of the time pays off, but just not that much.
The best time to buy a machine used is from a family or friend, someone you can trust. We get people all the time that bring machines in for repair that they bought used, go figure. What ends up happening is they sell machines with batteries that are 5 years old and just waiting to go out or they sell a unit with a reoccurring error and forget to mention it. Always check the serial number of a machine (first two are year) and ask for serial numbers of batteries (first six in serial number is mmddyy). Error codes are something that can pop up and not seem like a big deal but are a sign of things to come. They are intermittent shutdowns of the machine and can take days, months, or weeks before they re-occur. During a test drive you will not see this however it may be lurking beneath. An unknown party dumping a machine typically will not mention an issue. Bottom line is if you don’t trust them there is always a chance someone is selling you their problem.
Another avenue of buying used that may be safer but misleading is buying from a dealer. That sounds bad but please allow me to clarify. Dealers, or at least we, don’t sell machines that knowingly have any issues. Dealers know how to take care of machines and typically don’t do anything stupid that is harmful to them. We have had people come in however that have really gotten burned by dealers or even those impersonating them. First off please check Segway’s website and make sure the person you are buying from is actually a dealer. Second please make sure they are not going out of business tomorrow or that Segway’s are something they take seriously (“how many machines do you sell a year?”). Third, I’m not telling you it’s a ripoff but am letting you know it’s a load of bull, be careful when they sell you a “certified” or “guaranteed” used unit. Such a thing doesn’t exist and is misleading. If they have a specific set of what is “guaranteed” for a time period then it may be worth it depending on the age of the machine/batteries and their price. It’s basically an intangible that plays off of your fears and allows businesses to make very safe (for them) bets on risk for profit. I wouldn’t go for it unless it was something irresistible such as 1 year battery replacement guarantee on 4 year old batteries for $200-that would be a deal!
New machines biggest benefit is well, they are new, plus they come with a one year powerbase and battery warranty. Power base refers all parts of the machine except bolt on’s (fenders, tires, handlebars, ect…). Although it has been a while it seems Segway is periodically tweaking and mastering their software (sometimes hardware like radio boards) so buying the newest machine as opposed to one that is several years old may eliminate issues they saw patterns in over the years. Most of these are rather insignificant however a big enough deal that it warranted action from the company to correct.
A side not to new machines is that it is a good idea if you are overly concerned to look at the serial numbers on the batteries before the dealer has them activated. Typically the manufacture date will be 4-6 months old as when dealers receive them they are already several months old. Throw in some shelf time and it’s easy to make a “new” battery look old, however, within reason this is normal. Alarms should only go off if the battery is excessively old. I’ve seen it before where someone brings in a bad battery they bought “new” from someone and it turns out to be 3.5-4 years old. I’d either run or demand a new battery/reasonable price reduction if the battery is over 12-14 months old.
So there you have it. I hope this gives people a little more information to go on and helps them make a decision when choosing to buy new or used. To sum it up I think it’s kind of a wash and depends on whether you want to want to spread the cost of ownership out and how much of a risk taker you are. I just hope that if you take one thing away from this it is that you need to be very careful buying Segway PT’s used from strangers as I have seen many people get burned on these deals. Always steer clear of gen 1 Segway’s unless you’re looking for something to waste money on. If you have any questions regarding the subject feel free to contact us via email or phone!