Buying ... new or used? .... which is best?
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It's hard to remember when there has been a better time to consider a used car instead of a new one. The record number of new cars and trucks sold by automakers in recent years, fueled largely by extremely attractive rebates and low- or no-interest financing, has created an overabundance of used cars. That gives the used-car shopper a lot of choice in vehicles.
The flooded market also means depressed prices of used cars — bad news for new-car buyers trading in their old models but good news for bargain-hunting used-car shoppers. Further, an increasing number of certified pre-owned car plans have cropped up in recent years to provide consumers with peace of mind when it comes to buying a used car.
In the end, the decision to buy new or used boils down to what you can afford and what will give you peace of mind.
If you're on a tight budget, then buying a used car gets you the most vehicle for the least amount of money. You can count on one hand the number of new cars that list for less than $25,000. That buys you a tiny car, probably with two doors and certainly with a manual transmission instead of an automatic, no air conditioning, a lack of safety features (antilock brakes, side-impact airbags, etc.) and few other common amenities.
For less than half the price of the average new car, you can buy a 3- or 4-year-old used vehicle that is larger and loaded with more features than the small, bare-bones new one. But buying a used vehicle has its risks, which could cost you more over the life of the vehicle. The fact is: you are buying a vehicle that someone else has owned and driven. You don't know how it's been driven or how well it's been cared for. A used vehicle will require maintenance and possibly expensive repairs far sooner than a new one, and these repairs probably won't be covered by a warranty.
The Case for Buying New
For some people, buying used isn't an option; they want a spanking new car. They want to select the color and all of the features that go on it. There's definitely a pride of ownership and peace of mind in being a vehicle's first owner. Some of a new car's advantages include:
- reduced maintenance: A new vehicle won't need maintenance for the first several thousand miles, and then only an oil change and tuneup are required. Some manufacturers even cover the cost of those routine maintenance items. The new vehicle likely won't need new tires, a battery, exhaust system or brakes during the first few years of ownership or longer.
- warranty coverage: The manufacturer covers its new vehicles under warranty for at least three years, and some warranties last even longer. Many luxury makes now offer warranties of four years and 50,000 to 60,000 miles. With manufacturer warranties, if something goes wrong, it is the responsibility of the dealer and manufacturer to fix.
In addition to the comprehensive warranty, automakers provide warranty coverage for both corrosion resistance and the powertrain.
- peace of mind: If you encounter problems with your new car, you have legal recourse through Consumer laws..
- roadside assistance: In addition to a comprehensive warranty, virtually all mainstream new cars and light trucks come with free roadside assistance while the vehicle remains under warranty, and, in some cases beyond. Only exotic car makers do not provide roadside assistance. In addition, some automakers reimburse you or provide alternate transportation if you get stranded far from home. A few manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Lincoln and Volkswagen, offer free routine maintenance during the first couple years of ownership. These generally cover oil changes and tuneups.
The Case for Buying Used
If you're not married to the idea of buying a new car, used vehicles have their own benefits:
- increased choice: The automobile market — both new and used — has been booming in recent years. The used-car market was even more vibrant, The result is a vast choice in used cars and attractive prices.
- improving reliability: Although used vehicles typically don't carry the same warranties as new ones, the original factory warranty on a new car is transferable to a second owner, usually at no charge. Buyers of certified pre-owned cars from an authorized dealer can purchase a late-model used car with the original warranty and then choose to add to it. The combination of a glut of late-model used vehicles, the greater reliability and durability of vehicles, and the availability of warranties make buying a used car less of a gamble.
- just like new: Another trend that makes buying used a better option is the proliferation of certified pre-owned programs. Some manufacturers have instituted these programs.
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