New or Used: Which is Right for Me?

September 1st, 2022 by

When you’re ready to purchase a vehicle, choosing between a new or used car is often the first of many decisions. Each option has pros and cons. Which one is right for you? Let’s consider some reasons you might choose one or the other.

Pros and Cons of a New Car

There’s a reason you can buy an air freshener called “new car smell.” People seem to love that fresh, clean hit they get when they sit in a brand-new car for the first time. A vehicle that’s new off the lot hasn’t had any life happen to it yet: spilled drinks, dirty shoes, snacks, or the beloved family pet hasn’t left their mark on the upholstery or carpet. New cars feel luxurious and comfortable to drive.

New cars typically come with a factory warranty that can cover any repairs and even the cost of routine maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations. With these trips to the dealership, you can be sure that the service department will notice any problem before it becomes serious and expensive.

Driving a vehicle where everything is new can bring peace of mind every time you hop in and go; you’re much less likely to encounter trouble. New cars are typically reliable for anything from a road trip to school pick-ups.

Modern standard safety features, such as backup cameras and blind-spot monitoring, are designed to help avoid accidents. If an accident is unavoidable, airbag and crumple zone technology offers protection to the driver and passengers.

New cars also often feature technology such as touch screen displays and controls, connectivity to your smartphone for safety and convenience, intuitive automated systems, such as air conditioning, and state-of-the-art stereo equipment. Add-ons may include seat comfort packages, unique exterior and interior design features, and wheel selection. It’s easy to customize a new vehicle to fit your lifestyle and your personal tastes.

But new features and ownership come with a price tag, and for some people, a monthly car payment for several years may not be in the budget. Purchasing a new car may also require a down payment and a credit check.

Pros and Cons of a Used Car

The quality of used cars varies greatly. At a dealership, you can often find pre-owned vehicles that have been thoroughly inspected by a service team, cleaned professionally, and with fairly low mileage. Used vehicles from a dealer may even have a period of warranty protection remaining. They can be a lower-risk choice in terms of reliability and potential mechanical problems.

Used cars are also bought and sold extensively between private sellers on the secondary market. You might find a 1-year-old car with low mileage or a 15-year-old car with high mileage. Determining factors for purchasing a used car might include budget, make and model, market-research reliability, safety features, number of owners, or maximum age or mileage. It may be easier for someone who doesn’t want a high monthly payment to save up enough cash for a more modest used car that serves its intended purpose well.

Each used car comes with some risk for unexpected mechanical problems, regular maintenance items such as timing belts replacement, or interior plastic or fabric pieces becoming worn or broken. A used car may lack the latest touch screen for navigation and control or have fewer safety features. Its seats may be more worn and feel less comfortable than those of a new car. With a used car, you are beholden to how the previous owner(s) cared for the vehicle, with problems that may not be visible. Even small things like overdue oil changes, not rotating tires, and misaligned wheels can add up to big headaches.

Is a New Car or Used Car a Better Investment?

There’s a common saying that a new car starts to depreciate the minute it leaves the dealership lot. While that may be a slight exaggeration, Chris Hardesty at Kelley Blue Book breaks down the numbers like this: “The first year faces the most significant depreciation hit to the car’s market value, with most vehicles losing about 20% or more of their original value. The loss continues to decline from there. Cars often shed about 60% of their original purchase price within the first five years.”

On the one hand, the downside of depreciation becomes apparent if you want to sell your car only a few years after purchase, especially if you didn’t start with a large enough down payment to cover depreciation. For those who expect to keep a new car for a longer length of time, that may be less of an issue. You can still experience the peace of mind that comes with potentially small annual maintenance expenses other than regular consumables, such as tires.

On the other hand, depreciation can be a financial benefit if you want to buy a used car that’s only a year or two old. It’s possible the sticker price of a barely used car can give you a lot of features and lower miles than a brand-new vehicle. For those buyers who want to pay outright for a vehicle, the lower costs of a used car mean you can save up over time to pay for the potential repairs and maintenance expenses from age.

How To Get a Great Deal on a Vehicle

Car manufacturers frequently offer incentives for a new car purchase, such as a 0% down payment or a lower monthly payment for several months. Online research can be very helpful, but it’s always good to come in for a test drive. Make sure you fit well in the cars you’re looking at, and they feel comfortable for you specifically. You can try out features and decide what’s most important to you. It could be some features are less of a priority, lowering the overall price.

Choosing a car that fits your immediate need, your budget, and your lifestyle can all be equally important. We are ready to guide you to the car of your dreams. Contact us today to set up a test drive in any of our great vehicle options.

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