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Jamie Gibbs

Should I buy a new or used car?

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Do you buy a brand-new motor, or do you go for something pre-loved? Let’s weigh up the pros and cons.

A row of cars in a dealership

Buying a car is a lot like getting a jacket. A new one, fresh off the shop floor, is something special. This is your jacket – there are many others like it, but this one is yours. There’s often a hefty price tag to match, and it may take some time to wear it in.

While you don’t get the same feeling of superiority with a secondhand jacket, you can get it at the fraction of the cost and it’s already been broken in by the previous owner. It’s true with jackets, and it’s true with cars.

Why should I buy a new car?

It might cost a bit more, but some people prefer the bonuses of buying a brand-new model:

  • Warranty – this usually lasts between one and three years. If your car has a mechanical or electrical fault, you can usually get it repaired free of charge.

  • Perks of a new sale – some dealers may try to sweeten the sale by offering you things like interest-free finance or free insurance for a year.

  • Cutting-edge tech – newer cars benefit from improved fuel efficiency and advanced safety features.

  • Made to order – you can specify the colour, trim, style and add-ons to a new car. It’s a customisable experience.

  • You’re the first one to drive it – there’s a reason why “new car smell” is a popular choice of air freshener.

It’s not all smiles and sunshine with a new car, though:

  • No surprises here, but cars are usually more expensive to buy new than used.

  • Depreciation – the car will likely lose between 15-35% of its value after the first year, and up to 50% over three years.

  • If it’s made to order, there’ll likely be a delay between buying the car and being able to drive it for the first time.

Dealership

Why should I buy a used car?

So you don’t get that shiny, fresh-from-the-factory feel. But buying a used car can be a better and more cost-effective way to go:

  • It’s less expensive – more often than not, buying a secondhand model works out quite a bit cheaper than buying the same model brand-new.

  • If you’re feeling saucy and want to splash a little bit more cash, you can often buy a used, upgraded model for the same price as a new, standard one.

  • Used cars tend not to suffer much from depreciation, seeing as the bulk of it happens within the first year. This means there may not be too much of a difference between the price you pay and how much you can sell it for later.

  • You can buy from a private seller as well as at a dealership, so you’ve more options when shopping around for a good deal.

  • Because you’re getting an older car with a lower value, insurance premiums might be cheaper.

On the flipside, there are risks with buying a used car that can catch out the unwary:

  • With more miles on the clock, expect there to be more wear and tear. This means more maintenance and repair, which could be costly.

  • Unless you’re prepared to wait for the perfect motor to show up, your choices are limited to what used cars are available. Don’t be too picky on colour and trim if you want a car quickly.

  • There’s an increased risk that the car might have been in an accident, or it might have outstanding finance from the previous owner. You can use Confused.com’s car registration history check to see if the car has a sketchy past.

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