Should You Buy Used or New?

Anyone who has ever bought a brand spanking new car will tell you it’s a feeling like no other.  That new car smell, an odometer that hasn’t yet recorded its first full mile, the peace of mind that comes with a bumper-to-bumper new car warranty and the subtle satisfaction of knowing you’re the first driver to curl your fingers around the steering wheel.  Hey, in a perfect world everyone would get a new car of their choice on each and every birthday.  But if your birthday came and went and your same old car is sitting in the driveway, it may be time for Plan B. 

If your current car is getting up there in miles, looking a little frayed around the edges and starting to spend more time in the shop than on the highway, it’s time for a replacement. The first question you have to ask yourself is “Can I afford a new car?”  Even if the answer is “yes”, you may still want to consider a used car as today’s models last longer and are more reliable then any in history.  Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both new and used.

New Cars


  • ITS NEW- Everything is new, smells great and looks terrific.
  • WARRANTY- The new car warranty provides peace of mind.
  • RELIABILITY - You don’t have to worry about getting to where you’re going.
  • STATUS - New cars have a unique cache of prestige,Your friends will be impressed.


  • PRICE - New cars are expensive.
  • DEPRECIATION - A new car loses 20-40% of its value after just one year.
  • HIGHER FEES -   DMV fees & insurance rates are higher for new cars.
  • FINANCING COSTS -  Even with today’s longer term loans you’ll be financing a larger principle and paying more total interest versus a smaller, shorter loan.

Used Cars


  • PRICE - Used cars are less expensive<
  • DEPRECIATION - The first owner has taken the big hit of “new car” depreciation.
  • LOWER FEES - DMV fees & insurance rates are lower for used cars.
  • MORE CAR FOR YOUR MONEY - Pricey upgraded options like leather seats, power controls, audio and navigation systems, automatic climate control and alloy wheels are usually barely reflected in a used car's price.


  • LEMONITIS - Every used car buyer’s greatest fear is they will buy a lemon. 
  • WARRANTY - No remaining manufacturer warranty
  • HISTORY - Used cars have histories…some good, some bad. The problem is you may not know the true history of the car you’re about to buy.

So there you have it.  New car prestige versus used car cost savings.  Assuming you can responsibly afford a new car without taking on an unreasonable amount of debt for your income level, a new car might be just the ticket to satisfy those intangible desires that shape who we are.  And with today’s automotive industry in dire economic straits, now may be the best buyers market in years. 

On the other hand, if you’re a bottom line, analytical person who sees cars as a means to get from point A to point B more than as a reflection of their status or personal image, a used car is probably in your future.

One Last Point

The Internet has drastically changed the playing field for buying new and especially used cars. New car buyers can shop scores of dealerships to compare prices and availability via dealer online sites and email correspondence.  Prices and options can be negotiated online with only a test drive needed to complete a deal.  Used car buyers can also shop dealerships and used car superstores online but the Internet has brought even bigger changes that give buyers unprecedented access to private sellers. Online used car marketplaces like, and allow buyers to quickly search for specific makes and models at the touch of a button.

* Today’s used car buyers can diminish most of the “Cons” associated with buying a used vehicle. A 150-point vehicle inspection starts at only $149 and can provide the peace of mind of knowing that a highly trained automotive professional has inspected your potential used car and evaluated both its cosmetic and mechanical condition.  As an extra precaution for out of warranty vehicles, buyers can purchase extended warranties from aftermarket providers that cover most mechanical components.  Thanks to today’s improved engineering that has resulted in longer automotive lives, these service contracts are reasonably priced for most models with average mileage accumulations for their age. Lastly, buyers can learn the true history of their potential purchase by ordering an online vehicle history report from companies such as Carproof that will advise you of potential title problems, past accidents or flood damage and odometer discrepancies.

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