Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Car
Yes, you can save a lot of money buying used, but you may not be aware of all the downsides which may affect your decision.
Advantages to Buying a Used Car
The biggest advantage to buying used is the cost savings. New cars depreciate heavily during the first 3 years of ownership - dropping by an average of 50% compared to the original MSRP.
When buying used, you're letting the original owner absorb most of the depreciation cost.
Some cars tend to depreciate a lot quicker than others, so it's smart to pay attention to the residual values when buying a car. If it depreciates quickly, you should really lean towards buying used.
The other advantage is that you will typically have to pay less for insurance. As cars get older (and the value decreases), they're simply cheaper to insure.
Disadvantages to Buying a Used Car
One disadvantage to buying a used car is you won't have as much choice when it comes to colors, styles, and options. You're limited to whatever is on the market and you may have to shop around for a while before finding one you like.
Another big disadvantage is the possibility of being stuck with a lemon. Unlike new cars, most used ones don't come with a warranty. If you're buying a late-model used car, it may still have some factory warranty left - in which case you can always extend the warranty without incurring huge costs.
This is why it's very important to get a used car thoroughly inspected by a mechanic before buying.
A final disadvantage is that you'll have to pay a higher interest rate when financing. Most lenders simply charge a higher interest rate on used vehicles. New cars will often come with financing incentives as low as 0%, so they definitely offer an advantage here.
If you really want to save some serious money and have peace of mind, it's usually best to buy a 3 to 4 year old used car and apply the savings toward the purchase of an extended warranty.
My Recommendation for Car ShoppersTrueCar No-Haggle, Edmunds Price Promise and 1-800 Car Show are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan
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About: Gregg Fidan
Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.