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Buying a New Car Vs. a Used Car

Posted by Charlie Maniates | Mar 22, 2019

As is the case for most car-buying decisions, the new car versus used car debate depends on a variety of factors, and the answer is ultimately contingent on your wants and needs as a buyer.

In order to make the right choice, there are important components you should consider including cost, warranty, maintenance, longevity and technology. We’ll lay out the benefits of buying both new and used cars to help guide your decision-making.

Benefits of Buying a New Car

Aside from head-turning curb appeal and that mesmerizing new-car smell, new cars have several favorable attributes:

1. History, or lack thereof

As the initial owner of a vehicle, you don’t have to worry about existing issues or whether a previous owner or dealership may have hidden defects in order to make a sale.

2. Warranties

New vehicles come with a comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty that covers bumper-to-bumper repairs throughout the years or miles of the warranty's duration. Additionally, many automakers also offer a powertrain warranty that covers a new car’s engine, transmission and driveline over a set number of years or miles.

3. Longer Life Span

To put it simply, a new car will last longer than a used car. Additionally, new cars are typically thousands of miles and multiple years away from needing maintenance for regular wear and tear.

4. Safety

Safety features can evolve each year, and new cars showcase the latest and most innovative ones. Additionally, structural enhancements usually improve performance in crash tests, so a new car that’s of a more recent generation has a likely fundamental advantage over an earlier generation of the same model.

5. Technology

Just like safety features, automotive technology can evolve each year. Between advanced options and compatibility with our many mobile devices, only new cars can deliver the latest technology.

Benefits of Buying a Used Car

Used cars are attractive to shoppers on a budget, and they don’t necessarily have to come at the cost of quality. Here are some advantages to buying a used car:

1. Affordability

In this case, the main draw is the most obvious: You’ll save money buying a used car instead of a new car. Used cars can still be financed, but their cheaper price tags make them easier to purchase upfront to cut monthly payments and money spent on interest. New cars depreciate so quickly that within three years they’ll lose nearly half their value. This means a used-car shopper can find a relatively recent vehicle at a dramatically lower price than a new car.

2. Certified Pre-Owned Programs

Certified pre-owned programs feature late-model, lower-mileage used vehicles that meet minimum standards and come with extended manufacturer warranties. While they may cost more than regular used cars, CPO cars are quality, lower-cost alternatives to new cars.

3. Reliability Data

New cars, especially brand-new and fully redesigned models, don’t have historical context about how dependable they are. For older models, however, reliability data is available to help you assess quality and longevity.

4. Historical Data

While not guaranteed, a vehicle history report may be available while looking for a used car. Some of these reports include evidence of past red flags, but you should approach with caution as it’s not uncommon for reports to be missing information. In other words, a report might help you rule out a prospective purchase, but it’s not an all-clear signal.

Know What Factors Are Important to You

Only you can answer whether you should buy a new or used car. An enthusiast who wants the latest gadgets and features in the industry might choose a new car, but a commuter in search of dependability at a competitive price might choose a used car.

Prioritizing the considerations above will help you decide which option makes more sense.