So you’ve decided to buy a car. How exciting. Whether it’s an upsize, downsize, update or your very first car purchase, you need to decide whether you’ll go for a new car or a used car. Is one ultimately better than the other, or is it ‘different strokes for different folks’?
The answer is: it depends. As with everything car-related, it comes down to what best suits your wants and needs.
The perks of going ‘new’
The upsides of buying a car new are exactly what you’d expect. There is a certainty about what you’re getting. No-one else has ever owned it, so there can be no untold horrors lurking in its past.
You will receive the benefits of a full warranty and it’s likely you’ll enjoy free post-purchase servicing. You can be sure that your car is operating at the bleeding edge of technological efficiency. There is the deep satisfaction one gets when one drives a shiny, new vehicle off the showroom floor (with that one-of-a-kind new car smell).
What are the problems?
There is really only one major issue in buying new car and it’s depreciation. The value hit that a new car takes between the dealership driveway and your garage is substantial. In the first three years, your car will lose about 40% of its original value. Of course the longer you keep it, the less all of this matters, but for many people depreciation is a significant enough factor to deter buying new.
So why would I choose to buy ‘used’?
There are plenty of convincing reasons to go ‘used’. For anyone who can look past the material joy of a brand new car, you can get almost everything a new car offers at a fraction of the cost by buying pre-owned.
Consider a car that is 12-months old. It’s already lost up to 30% of its original price, but may still have up to 2-3 years left on its new car warranty (with many manufacturers now offering up to 5-years). Its features and technologies are still considered new and modern.
If looked after, its interiors are still fresh, and there should be no issues with reliability, given its youthful age. There is a lot of value there. And in terms of savvy shopping, a 12-18 month old car is considered the used car ‘sweet spot’.
What should I be aware of?
The biggest down side of buying used is that you cannot be guaranteed of its history. You can piece together a pretty good idea through service logs, condition and running a vehicle history check, but you will never know each and every quick of the car before your time.
The further you stray from the 12–18 month sweet spot, the more prominent this concern can become. But, generally speaking, if you do your research and educate yourself on what to look out for, you’ll know a bargain when you see one. Just trust your ‘gut-feeling’ or that of a friend in-the-know.