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Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

October 16, 2008

Should You Buy A New Or Used Car

There are great deals available out there for both new and used vehicles. Each have their benefits.

Picture_13 New Car Pros
A new car will typically have a much better warranty. Hyundai has made a name for themselves with a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Now US manufacturers have finally brought their vehicles up to standards that meet or beat their foreign competitors and can offer even better warranties in some cases. New Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep cars and trucks offer a lifetime powertrain warranty for the original owner of the vehicle. Got that? As long as you own that car or truck the major mechanical parts are guaranteed. That is close to amazing. So to hedge against unforeseen costs down the road a new car can be the safest bet.

There’s a pride in ownership in buying a new car that can’t be matched by buying a used vehicle someone else picked out and has driven for a few years. And more importantly how did they treat the car for those years?

New Car Cons
A new car loses value faster, typically $1-2k in value as soon as you take it off the lot and in some cases a loss of 50% of value within three years after you bought it.

If it’s a new model or the model has undergone significant changes since the previous year the long-term reliability is somewhat of an unknown. It's not uncommon for a popular car to get a redesign that diminishes some of the key features that made it popular in the first place. It can take a year for that kind of information to circulate. So there may be unanticipated problems that make your life difficult.

Picture_14 Used Car Pros
Used cars as a group have a known reliability record. Individual makes and models have been out on the road for a couple of years so you can better gauge which will be most reliable and maintain their value.

Many used cars are now sold with manufacturer certifications. You can protect yourself with a great warranty by buying a certified used car. On Seven Days Auto Finder you can target your search specifically for cars that are certified.

If you can find a used vehicle with complete service records, whether it's from a dealership or a private owner, that will remove many unknowns and also indicates that the car was well cared for.

You can get "more car" for your money with a used car. Car and Driver recently created a list of 9 cars they think are the “Most Fun for $25K.” This may not be your most important criteria, but it really makes the point that you can get into a higher-end vehicle if you’re willing to buy used.

The first two cars were new, the Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Volkswagen GTI. Both great cars, but modest in comparison to the rest of the list. The three top used cars were the 2001-04 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, 2002-06 BMW M3 and the most fun for $25k was the 1991-94 Acura NSX.

Hmm… a new Volkswagen GTI vs. a slightly used BMW M3. Makes for a difficult decision doesn’t it?

Picture_15_2 On Seven Days Auto Finder I did a search using the price range sliders to target vehicles from $24-26k. Here are some interesting comparisons I found.

- A new 2009 Subaru Outback AWD Wagon vs. a used 2005 Volvo XC70 AWD Wagon with 21,000 miles.

- An mid-level Honda Accord vs. a used 2006 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Luxury Sedan with 20,410 miles.

So should you buy used or new? First start by considering what kind of car you need and then figure out what you can afford. Take all of this into consideration and the decision might make itself for you.


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