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Why You Should Buy a Used Car

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used carI recently wrote about the benefits of buying a new car, but often, used cars are actually the better deal. Here is why:

Used Cars Are a Better Deal than New Cars

Depreciation: Most cars depreciate 20-30% during the first 2 years of ownership. Why should you spend your hard earned money when you can let someone else take the loss instead?

More bang for your buck (and I don’t mean backfiring!): You can often afford to buy a better car with more options than you would be able to buy if you bought a new car. For example, let’s say you have a $20,000 budget for a car. You can buy a decent new car, with few options. But if you are willing to buy a 2-3 year old used car, you can generally get a model higher with more options – some of which would normally add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the tab on a new car, such as a moon roof, 6 disk changer, alloy wheels, heated seats, etc.

Quality is always improving: A couple decades ago, “used car” was synonymous with “junk.” Cars were disposable objects designed to last 10 years at most. Today’s cars will last a lot longer if you take care of them. There is no reason that you can’t buy a 2-3 year old car and not expect to drive it for at least 7-10 years before you trade it in because you are tired of it – not because it is falling apart.

Extended warranties: More and more manufacturers are offering certified used cars and extended warranties. These options may add a few extra dollars to the upfront costs, but can potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars down the road. They also give you the piece of mind to know that if something under warranty goes wrong, you won’t be on the hook for the total cost.

That new car small goes away: In 6 months, you probably won’t know the difference anyway. After a few months the new car smell is gone, you will have spilled your coffee on the floor once or twice, your shoes will drag dirt into the carpets, and your kids… well, they will be kids! To be honest, you probably won’t mind as much if these things happen to a used car because it is expected. But if they happen to your new car… well, that just causes stress! In fact, many people who buy new cars are so paranoid about things happening to their car that they don’t enjoy them as much as they should. It’s a car; not a museum piece. ;)

Which should you buy? As I already mentioned, I wrote about the benefits of buying a new car, now I’m telling you to go buy a used car. Which should you do? I think you should research your options and choose the best decision for your situation. ;)

photo credit: mzacha.


Published or updated June 11, 2009.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Traciatim

I think with either purchase the ideal thing to have on your side is time. Having time available usually makes purchases go much smoother and you get a much better deal. If you are pressured to buy a car on Friday or Saturday because you need to get to work on Monday, then you probably won’t score a deal. If you have a few weeks to watch for cars and you take a few on test drives and then pick a few you like, then suddenly deals will present themselves.

Any major purchases I find usually take me more than a week. Maybe I just hate spending money so I avoid it for as long as possible, but I think I’m just waiting for the right deal to come along.

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2 Ryan

Traciatim,

I agree, research is the best thing you can do for a major purchase – be it a car, computer, digital camera, or any other high dollar item.

I’m the same way, too. I take forever to make up my mind for a large purchase!

Ryan’s last blog post..Why You Should Buy a Used Car

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3 Mark @ TheLocoMono

I agree with buying a used car if you are on a budget. I had the fortune to buy a new car for 15 thousand dollars, brand new. 3 years later, exactly 1 week after I paid off the loan, the car was totalled in a wreck.

Don’t worry, I told myself, the insurance will reimburse you for it. Imagine my shock and bitterness when they cut a check for 8 thousand dollars. What am I going to replace my car with for 8 thousand dollars?

I lost 45 percent of my money because of some moron driver didn’t pay attention to where she was driving.

Needless to say, it was a learning experience, a humbling experience to realize now I had to buy a used car with what the insurance gave me.

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4 Ryan

Mark, I am sorry to hear about your accident. I hope nothing was damaged other than your car!

I agree, the depreciation the first few years is rough. I actually bought a new car about 2 years ago, but that was because I bought my car in the Gulf Coast area about 3 months after Hurricane Katrina. There was a lot of fraud going on with used cars at the time, and the value of used cars went up dramatically because so many people had to replace damaged vehicles. At the time, buying new was a better option for me. My next car will be used though! ;)

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5 Komodo Dragon

This is so true, Besides if you really think about it, once you drive out of that dealership, the car is not technically “new” is it now?

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6 Jake

I always bought new, but next car purchase i’m seriously considering going used. I’m tired of throwing my $$$ away.

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