Should I Buy A Used Or New Car? The Pros and Cons

Should I Buy A Used Or New Car?Should I buy a used or new car? A whole lotta people are passionate about buying used. (Sorry this article doesn’t broach the subject of the upside or downside of leasing!)

I’ve often heard,

“Don’t buy a new car. As soon as you drive it off the lot it loses thousands in value!”

…as if anyone has ever driven off a lot to immediately sell a car.

What is the upside and downside of buying a used or new car?

Pros: Buying A Used Car

Saving Money: If you can find the perfect deal, you can save a lot of money on a car only a couple of years old, that’s in nearly brand new condition—saving you multiplied thousands of dollars.

Getting a cheap car when in a time of need: If your car broke down and you need transportation pronto, making a quick purchase may save your job and your livelihood.

We never want to be in the situation where we are forced to buy a car immediately (I would suggest renting for a week or two) but if you only can spare a thousand bucks, buying a used car on the cheap may get you out of a jam.should I buy a used or new car?

Classic Cars Are Used Cars: If you want a blast from the past, Used is your only option.

Cons: Buying A Used Car

Legwork and research: You’re going to have to do your diligence to find a good, reliable car at the right price.

Private vs. Dealer: You may have to deal with scummy car dealers (just as you would if you are buying new) that may not be forthcoming about a used cars problems or deficiencies. A private seller may be more, or less, honest.

By the way, you’ll want to find out if a private sellers warranty will transfer to you as the new owner. In some cases, it will not.

More time: Visiting a private seller may mean you are making multiple trips to track down and check out cars, rather than visiting a handful of dealers

Buying Something Unreliable: Even if you do a background check on a used car and go for a test drive, you may not know if it’s going to be reliable for long. Bringing a friend that works with a lot of cars can help resolve this, but that means you’re going to have to ask more favors just to check out one or two cars.

Pros: Buying A New Car

You Know Exactly What You Are Getting: Buying a new car means you know it’s going to be reliable and doesn’t have any damage from car accidents.

Sweet Deals: Dealers want to get stock of their lots. Shopping during Christmas and New Years can actually afford you some pretty sweet deals.

Buying last year’s model can save you anywhere from $3000-$5000 on many vehicles—and it’s still a new car. Around Memorial Day weekend each year many dealers will promote factory rebates to get old inventory off their lots—and you can get a brand new car at a used car price.

Warranty: New cars come with warranties. Used cars may not.

Cons: Buying A New Car

Paying More: The facts of the matter are if you aren’t buying during a great sale or at the end of a the model year, you may in fact be paying thousands more for a new car than you have to for a good, working-condition used car.

What Should I Do? Buy A Used or New Car?

Here’s the driving force of what you should consider:

Budget—Don’t buy what you can’t pay for.

Tenure—How long do you want this car to be with you? If it’s a car you only plan on owning for a year or two, a used car will do the trick. If you want to own it for 8+ years, either a used car with very low mileage, or a brand new car with a great warranty are what you’ll want to pursue.

Exacting—Do you have extremely specific  details you want fulfilled? Buying a new car will allow you to fulfill that specificity. Buying used will take more legwork to get exactly what you want.

Timing—Do you need it now? Those living in a metropolis will find it easier to find something that meets their specific wants and needs right away. If you are searching further away from a dense population, it might be harder to search for a used car that you “really really want” right away.

If you’re on the market for a vehicle, make sure you consider if you should buy a used or new car. What fits best for your window of time and budget. Don’t feel pressured to get a used car that you don’t like or want. And don’t go onto a lot and feel pressured into getting a new car just because a sales person makes a great pitch. In either case, know exactly what you want. If you find a car at a great price that meets most of the criteria that you want, then it’s probably a good buy.

Check out the AllThingsFinance Auto Calculators!

[Featured image courtesy of Konstantin Datz]
[Dodge Charger image courtesy of Ivan Afandi]


  1. This line “as if anyone has ever driven off a lot to immediately sell a car.” had me in fits of laughter! So tweetable 🙂
    I think when it comes to buying a car one has to consider his financial situation and what they hope to achieve with the car. But there must be some wisdom in buying used (why wld so many “financial gurus” recommend it)…that is if you can find a good deal. Yes, it does take time and maybe some inconveniences but the savings can be huge.
    You boil it down succintly: buy what you can afford New or Used!

    • Oh man I’ve been holding onto that line for a LONG time! When I was buying my first car as a teenager I had some adults swear that no one should ever buy a new car b/c it loses value as soon as they drove it off the lot. And even as a 17 year old I thought “Who in the world would drive away in sell it anyways?” Craziness.

  2. Great topic. If money is an issue and you do your homework, used will always be a better deal. A three year old low mileage well sorted used car will bring big savings in initial cost and normal maintenance going forward. Oddly enough the higher end the car the bigger the savings so premium brands are an even better deal.

    If cost is less of an issue then new brings the latest safety, mechanical and electronic innovations with full warranty and the comfort of knowing you aren’t inheriting someone else’s abused or poorly maintained vehicle.

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