There’s nothing quite like a brand new car. It’s perfect inside and out – no dings, no places where the paint was scratched by the garage door, it even smells new. Should you splurge and buy a car brand new from the dealership showroom, or is a used car a better deal? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each plan.
The obvious benefit to buying a used car is that the price tag is much nicer. In fact, a brand new car loses a significant percentage of its value the minute it’s driven off the car dealer’s lot. On the second day you own a new car, it’s still new. It still has a lot of use left, no scratches and it still smells new. But it’s no longer a brand new car to the next guy, and that alone is worth money. You would think that the value of a car would decline gradually over its useful life, but that isn’t so. It loses proportionately more value during its first months and years. Eventually, the price stabilizes and its value depends entirely on its condition – but it still has some value.
One of the biggest disadvantages to buying a used car is the unknown. Why did its old owner get rid of it? Is it a lemon? How well was it cared for? Did it get all recommended oil changes and maintenance? Has it been in an accident, or has it experienced water damage? Fortunately it’s much easier to determine the answer to these questions that it ever has been. Many used car dealers offer up a Carfax report, which tells you the car’s history. How many owners has it had? Has it been involved in any accidents? Cars can be tracked by their vin numbers and now that computer records have evolved, it’s much easier to compile this information.
The second disadvantage is that a used car will probably not last as long as a new car. It will need maintenance and repair sooner. This, of course, depends a great deal on the age of the used car. If a car is still relatively new, it may still be under the manufacturer’s warranty. In fact, many car dealers sell ‘certified vehicles’. This means that they have inspected the car, done any necessary maintenance and repairs, and determined that it meets certain quality guidelines. Certified vehicles usually come with a warranty, so you won’t have to worry about major repairs for a period of time. If a used car does not come with a warranty, the key is to have your mechanic look it over before you buy it. Compare the price tag to the condition. If you accept a car with some problems, you should get it for a lower price. Of course, there is a limit. A car that’s about to expire isn’t worth any money at all – except to the junkyard.
You already know the bad news about new cars – they cost a lot. There are some benefits too. First, engineering is improving, so a car built today will last longer than a car built even a few years ago. Also, if a new model that you like has just come out, you won’t be able to find a used one. Infiniti has recently released its G37 Convertible. If you can find a used one, it’s probably at a premium price for a used car. You might be better off just to buy it new.
In the end, new or used is a personal choice. It will probably depend a lot on the type of car you’re looking for. Either way, do your research and consider both before making a decision.