You’ve decided it’s time to buy a new car. Whatever your reasons, whether it be a change in circumstances, a need for more space or particular features, or simply that your old car is not up to scratch any more, often one of the most common questions that comes up is whether to buy new or used.
As you would imagine, there are no hard and fast rules as it all comes down to personal preferences and your particular needs and situation but there are a few factors you should consider before making the decision.
For most people, the first consideration is budget.
Cars depreciate most or lose their greatest value in the first couple of years on the road, so you can save a significant amount of money by buying a relatively late model used car compared with a brand new one. Potentially, if you have a good idea of what type of car you want, you might also be able to buy a used car that offers more features or a higher level of specification for the same amount of money as the new model.
But although you will always pay less for a used car than a similar brand new one, this needs to be weighed up against a number of other factors.
In today’s market, most new cars come with a full five-year manufacturer’s warranty, so part of what you are buying in a new car is the confidence in its reliability. It is brand new and so has no history of being driven by anyone else. All its myriad components would be expected to be in perfect condition and set to last for many years to come, giving you a sense of security and peace of mind.
Alternatively, buying used can be a bit of a gamble. Depending on the age of the car and the distance it has travelled, it might be in need of maintenance. Perhaps more importantly, you will never know how or where it has been driven with certain driving and road conditions often taking a greater toll on a car’s mechanical systems that may end up costing you money.
Tied to this is what you might expect to pay in future running costs. Many new cars are now sold with capped price servicing that offers regular scheduled servicing – a necessary condition of the new car warranty – at a franchised dealer for a maximum set price. Such offers are generally not available for used cars and, as parts and components wear, they become less efficient so you might also find yourself using more fuel or oil in a used car.
Another factor to consider is what you want in your car. If you are buying new, once you have selected the model, you can specify exactly what options, trim, accessories and colour you want and are not limited to what particular vehicles might be on the dealer’s lot.
Finally, there is the beguiling emotional appeal of buying a new car that is exactly what you want. It’s new, untouched, has probably no more than a few kilometres on the clock and has that particular new car smell. And for many people, that is something you just can’t put a value on.