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New car or used car: which should you buy?

A new car is going to cost more, but it might still be a better deal in the long run. Here’s what you need to look out for.

Advantages of buying a new car

Newer cars tend to have better crash test ratings than the equivalent older model, meaning the driver and occupants are less likely to be injured in a crash. However, at the same price point, an older vehicle may have been a more robust vehicle but be available for the same price.

Newer cars will have the latest safety technology such as forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, and perhaps even some low level autonomous features such as lane keep assist. However, as with the crash test ratings, a second hand model might have been a much more fully featured vehicle when it was new, so there may not be much difference.

A new car will come with a warranty that will cover your repair expenses should anything go wrong. Some warranties are for 5-10 years, so it would also be possible to purchase a 3-year-old vehicle and get the benefit of the remainder of a warranty.

If you plan to keep the vehicle for a long time, buying a new car can be a favourable option. You will be the first owner and can look after it with the knowledge that you will be driving it for years to come; a second hand vehicle may be hiding some rough use and neglect.

A new car will give you all the choices and options that may be difficult to find in a second hand car such as your preferred colour and model variant.

Advantages of buying a used car

Immediate availability is a big drawcard. When purchasing a new car, there could be a months-long wait for it to be manufactured and shipped over, whereas with a used car, you can drive it off the yard the same day or week.

With the exception of a few halo models that sell out quickly (usually hypercars and limited run models), used cars are cheaper than new cars. They will have experienced their biggest chunk of depreciation (the chunk that happens as soon as they are driven from the dealer).

Buying a used car can get you a car with more prestige for the same amount of money. New Toyota or used Jag, for example.

Used cars can be purchased at auction where it’s possible to get a better deal than from a dealer. However, dealers will sharpen their pencil, particularly at certain times of the year or if they need to move stock on.

The disadvantages of buying a used car

Because you don’t have the benefit of a warranty, the risk of a substantial repair bill sapping your spare cash is a real one. Most people tend to pay absolutely as much as they can to get the best car possible and don’t leave much buffer for things going wrong.

Can you be sure of its history or whether it has been crashed and repaired.

Some wear and tear is hidden – you won’t find out if it’s advanced until it actually breaks earlier than expected.

If buying from a private individual, you need to make sure there is no money owing on it and that the car has not been involved in any illegal activities. An interested party may be able to repossess the vehicle if finance isn’t paid off, and if the vehicle has been used in a crime, it may be impounded by police for their investigation.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

Posted in Advice
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