When you first decided you needed to buy a car, your mind probably jumped to a bunch of different criteria. You were thinking about what colour you wanted to paint job to be. Or what stereo setup you want for your music. Or which manufacturer you were going to buy a model from.

Not so fast, friend. Before any of that, there’s a simpler but more crucial choice you have to make. You have to decide whether you’ll be buying a new car or a used one. This article is going to pit the two options head-to-head!

Sport Cars

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Style vs function

Many people are massively preoccupied with the sex appeal a car brings. And with that mindset, they’re probably going to buy a new car. They want the crazy shininess, the new car smell, the ability to boast about the price tag.

That’s fine, of course. I would suggest that you get a car that does exactly what you need it to do. Just pay for the function; don’t worry yourself about superficial details. Of course, if you are concerned about style, you shouldn’t write off buying a used car. Look at this used car dealer’s webpage. You can see that being specific about what model you want doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t buy used. And the cars on offer are hardly decrepit! As long as you look carefully, you don’t have to compromise style when buying used.

Investment

I’m throwing this section here because I’ve heard some say that buying a new car is a better investment. This may sound like it makes sense; a newer car is worth more, so buying that will make for a better investment, right?

Ford Mustang

Flickr

This shows a misunderstanding of what ‘investment’ actually means. It’s the act of committing something (money or otherwise) with the hopes of making a profitable return. Some people think buying a car is like buying a house. The value of houses increases over time, so they’re, by nature, a good investment. But a car isn’t an investment at all; if it were, there probably wouldn’t be a used car market.

Cars are what we call depreciating assets. The materials from which a car is made – glass, iron, plastic – these things lose value over time. This is why buying a used car is so much cheaper than buying a new one. All cars depreciate. So don’t buy a car as an investment; buy one because you actually need one! If you see yourself selling the car after a year or two of use, go with a second-hand one. This way, you’ll end up losing less money overall.

Initial cost

I doubt we need to point out that buying a used car is much cheaper than buying a new one. But perhaps you’re underestimating just how much cheaper it can be. Your average used car, at about three or four years old, can cost you less than half the price of a new car.

Of course, if we’re going to talk about initial cost, we should also talk about early costs in general. And this is where some people have found trouble with used cars. If you’re not careful about your used car purchase, you could end up with something that costs a lot in maintenance. A new car shouldn’t need any maintenance for at least the first several thousand miles. There are oil changes and tuneups to consider, but that’s about it. A used car, on the other hand, may reveal a plethora of problems in its first few weeks of use. You may find the tyres aren’t up to scratch. Maybe the battery is draining too quickly.

Bells and Whistles

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Don’t let horror stories carry you away too much, though. Used cars are becoming more and more reliable all the time, simply because the market is so big and consumers are demanding it. If there is a problem, though, fixing it will likely be at your expense. Which brings us to the next consideration.

Warranties and guarantees

One of the biggest advantages to buying a new car is the warranty. With your new car you’ll get a brand-spanking new original factory warranty. The manufacturer should have you covered for at least three years; most of the time, warranties last much longer. If a fault manifests within that warranty period then the manufacturer or the car dealer have a responsibility to fix it.

Make sure you’re properly clued in about your warranty. Sometimes there’s also a mileage limit along with the time limit. So a given warranty could last, say, five years or 50,000 miles (whichever comes first).

Used cars will usually have lesser guarantees. These warranties will often be an agreement held solely between you and the dealer. The manufacturer usually isn’t involved. However, some warranties on new cars are transferable to a second owner. Your dream of a second-hand car with a strong warranty isn’t necessarily dead!

The environment

If you’re feeling eco-friendly then you may be tempted to buy a new hybrid car. What you may not know is that the actual production of a hybrid car is less environmentally safe than that of a regular car. The actual use of the hybrid is much more ecological, but the manufacturing uses items like lead-acid and lithium-ion. If you’re not sure what those are, trust us; they’re just as bad for the environment as their names suggest.

Manufacturing and shipping a vehicle results in 12-28% of the automotive industry’s harmful emissions. With this in mind, buying a car second-hand car could be your most ecological option. If you can get a second-hand hybrid, even better!

Fancy Car

Pixabay

Meeting in the middle

Did you know that there’s a third option? There are many places from which you can buy nearly new cars. These are often cars from the dealer’s demonstration fleet. They can also offer pre-registered stock. It won’t be as cheap as buying second-hand, but it can be the closest you can get to the new car feel without actually buying a brand new car.

These cars usually have a few miles on them, sometimes around a thousand. People who want brand new cars are sticklers for the mileage details, hence the discounts!
Assess your budget, your required vehicle function, and your desired style. Once you have worked out this criteria, you’ll find it easier to make your choice!