Buying a car is exciting, whether it’s new or new-to-you. Either way, you’re going to be dropping a lot of money for something that will ideally last you for years and years. It’s important to pick the ride that’s right for your budget whether that budget is 10 thousand dollars or 20 thousand dollars. So what’s the better deal when you’re buying cars: new vs. used?
Let’s start with the really fun option. Getting a brand new car would be amazing. That shiny, perfect paint, that pristine upholstery, the intoxicating plastic-y whiffs of “new car smell.” Without a doubt, buying a new vehicle is a wonderful luxury for those who can afford it. True, the price tag at the dealer is going to be higher than a used car’s, but you’re paying for peace of mind and reliability. New cars usually come with warranties (ask the dealership about what the warranty covers and how long the warranty lasts) and probably won’t need any serious maintenance or major repairs for a while.
There are a few things to keep in mind with a new car. First is that the cost of insurance is higher for a new vehicle than it is for an older one. Next, make sure you understand your total cost if you’re financing a vehicle or taking out a car loan because that’s totally different than buying outright. And lastly, be aware that the value of a new car depreciates over 10% the minute you drive it off the lot. So if you’re hoping to sell the car later, the resale value will be a lot less than what you paid for it when it was a brand new car. Most cars don’t really hold their value, so don’t necessarily think of a new car as investing in something that will garner a high return down the road.
Okay, so you never hear TV game show hosts yelling in excitement about someone’s chance to “WIN A USED CAR!!!” But that doesn’t mean you should rule out a pre-loved set of wheels. They’re usually way more affordable than new cars. What’s your poison? Hondas? Mercedes? BMWs? Jeeps? You can find any of these brands used. There’s also a huge range of price points to choose from, whether you’re cool with a decade-old vehicle that gets the job done or a barely used car with a small number on the odometer. Whether you’re looking for something no-frills or top of the line, it’s always going to be cheaper if you get it pre-owned. Sure, you might not get that new car smell when you’re buying used, but that’s what air fresheners are for, right?
Just remember to inspect used cars carefully before making your purchase. Even if the car has no obvious, serious flaws, it’s a good idea to request a vehicle history report. The report (connected to the VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number) will include information about past issues such as crashes the car was involved in, flood damage, etc. This can also alert you to any repairs that might need to be made on the used car so you can account for that in your end cost. Do your research, then enjoy your new(ish) car!