There are some things that you would naturally hesitate to buy used. For example, a used mattress or swimsuit. Even a good mattress only lasts eight or ten years, anyway, and a used swimsuit, well, that may be a bit gross. Automobiles, being mostly mechanical objects, don't suffer from the same issues that these other things do as they age, which is a great reason why you should consider buying a used car over a new car.
Make and Maintenance
Brand has a big impact on how well automobiles age, and not all automobiles are created equal. As the saying goes, “Those who buy cheaply will pay dearly” or, “You get what you pay for.” You'll be sure to spend a lot of money repairing low-quality engines and transmissions or replacing low-quality parts. This is pretty much the opposite of what anyone buying a new automobile wants to do.
Depending on who you ask, maintenance could be the biggest factor in the longevity of any vehicle, be it economy or luxury model. For example, most automakers recommend regular oil changes, every five-, eight-, twelve-, or sixteen-thousand kilometers. Automakers may also recommend replacing fluids, such as engine coolant, transmission fluid, brake, and clutch, at certain intervals, as well as timing belts or accessory belts, among other items, to ensure good performance, efficiency, and longevity of your vehicle. Still, ignore these items on even a well-branded vehicle, and it'll be in the junkyard before you know it.
Today's vehicles, especially well-branded ones, are more reliable than ever, and buying a two- or three-year-old used car is well worth the time. It isn't unheard of for well-branded and well-maintained used cars going as far as 500,000 km with no significant repairs.
Expenses and Depreciation
Perhaps the biggest factor in buying used or new is depreciation, that is, how much value you lose driving a new car off the lot. Some vehicles lose as much as 20% of their value in the first year, which can be disappointing. If you buy a $30,000 car today, and try to sell it eight or twelve months from now, you'll be fortunate to get even $25,000 out of it. Of course, if you are in it for the long haul, better than four or five years, then perhaps the extra expense is worth it. Basically, don't buy a new car thinking that you can sell it later and get your money back.
If you buy a used car, you'll most likely have to front the money to repair or replace some wear items, such as tires, brakes, or battery, but these costs pale in comparison to new car payments. Additionally, a used car, just a few years old, won't require any major repairs for at few years, anyway. The best thing you can do to assure a good future is to buy a good brand, see if it has been maintained over its lifetime previous to your buying it, and have it checked by a trustworthy technician.or the long haul, better than four or five years, then perhaps the extra expense is worth it. Basically, don't buy a new car thinking that you can sell it later and get your money back.
The Bottom Line
Really, the biggest determining factor has to be what you can afford as compared to what you are looking for. Keep in mind, however, that you can often get into a better used vehicle at the same price of a new vehicle. For example, take a look at the pricing of a new vehicle with the basic stereo system and cloth seats. You might be able to get into a used vehicle, even one or two years old, with power package, leather interior, and upgraded stereo system, for about the same price. At the same time, you won't be sacrificing reliability or performance which, in the end, is what really matters.