I am looking to buy a Cessna 182. I am trying to work out the sweet spot between age and price. I am looking for a plane that will be really reliable. I am looking to spend several months flying around the USA with my wife and prefer not to spend my whole time dealing with mechanics. Some questions:

  1. At what age does a regularly maintained airframe most commonly start needing frequent repairs?
  2. At what age does the depreciation slow down (so I can buy and sell the plane after three years with minimal loss)?
  • $\begingroup$ I think this question might be considered too broad/opinion based and impossible to answer. But basically you have airframe, avionics and engine to consider. I would consider a well maintained 182 with 5000 hours or less on airframe to be no problem (everyone else will surely have a different answer). For the engine, you want to make sure it is regularly flown. I rather have an engine with 1200 that was overhauled 2 years ago, then an engine with 120 hours that was overhauled 20 years ago. Finally, for avionics, find a plane that has what you want already installed. $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Jul 29, 2017 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ David, I have removed the 2nd question because it would still call for opinions. I have left the other two because I think they might be answerable. (I am not sure though, we'll see what the community thinks) $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Jul 29, 2017 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ 1) Never, depending on your definitions of "well maintained" and "frequent"; 2) After 15-20 years or so, I think you will find that well-maintained planes appreciate (at least before inflation) due to supply & demand. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 29, 2017 at 19:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OK thanks for the help. This is my first time out :) $\endgroup$
    – drabjohns
    Jul 29, 2017 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ I'm tempted to say "5 minutes after you get the key for any aircraft". There's always something to tinker with after all and that's about the time it takes to run to the aircraft and start tinkering... $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Jul 31, 2017 at 11:33

1 Answer 1


Not an aircraft owner here, but based on the AOPA article Tips on Buying Used Aircraft, the one thing that stands out is to negotiate a much lower price if the aircraft is close to its time between overhaul (TBO).

[Let's say] you are purchasing a 1977 C-172N for \$40,000. The TBO for this aircraft is typically 2000 hours, and costs roughly \$20,000; or half the value of the aircraft. If the aircraft you are considering buying has 1800 hours on the engine, you need to expect to spend an additional \$20,000 on the aircraft in your first 200 hours of ownership. Knowing this, it would be in your best interest to negotiate a lower price for the aircraft.

Depending on you where you will be flying, you may be required to install ADS-B by Jan 2020. If the aircraft you are buying is not equipped, then that's something to add to the list of things to buy. (What is ADS-B and who needs it?)

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