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Here’s Why You Should Buy a Used Car

New vs used choice concept, two direction arrows on asphalt.

One of the first decisions you will probably make when it’s time to buy a vehicle is whether you should go for a used model or something brand new. This is a big decision, since it affects the types of cars and trucks you’re going to look at and it can have a major impact on what’s available to you within your budget. When you’re looking around online or at some local dealerships, you’ll hear a lot about the used car values and depreciation, about the risks involved and all the features you’ll get with a new model.

In fact, by the end of a few hours at a dealership, you’ll probably hear so many options, statistics, and numbers that your head will be spinning. We’ve all been there. And while you have to be the one to decide on whether you want a new or used car, there are a few things you should keep in mind when making that decision. This isn’t about bashing new cars; it’s about what makes used and pre-owned cars so appealing.

More for Your Money

Let’s start off with the biggest perk: choosing a used car will almost always get you more value for your money. Since new vehicles tend to go down in price so quickly once they have been sold and owned, a used car that is only a couple years old is often much less expensive than the brand new version of the same model. That means you can often get options and advanced configurations that you might not be able to afford in a new car when you choose a used or pre-owned vehicle.

In fairness, you might miss out on the very newest bells and whistles – including things like rearview cameras and LCD displays with navigation features. But since those features have been around for a while, and rearview cameras have become legally mandated in many vehicles over the last few years, they are becoming more common even in used cars. Plus, with the money you save on a used vehicle, you may be able to make some after-market additions and upgrades to get some of the trim items that you didn’t find in your new ride.

More Options

Plain and simple: choosing a used car gives you exponentially more options than looking to buy a new car, truck, or SUV. If you go to a dealership and look at new vehicles, you will find dozens, potentially a few hundred, different models and configurations of this year’s and perhaps next year’s vehicles. That can be plenty to choose from, but if you really want something that calls your name and fits you just right, then those options might be too limited.

This is where choosing a used or pre-owned vehicle really shines. Looking at used cars means you have potentially decades of vehicle models and makes to choose from. Even just in the last decade, the number of different models of used cars is vastly higher than what is available brand new. When you want to find a car that is new for you and really stands out from everything else you see on the road each day, looking at used cars is a great choice.

Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

One of the biggest risks when it comes to buying a used car is that you do not have the security of knowing your vehicle is brand new and backed by a manufacturer warranty. In the past this was a very serious disadvantage that could outweigh some of the potential benefits involved in choosing to buy a used car. Now, however, this drawback has been largely offset by “Certified Pre-Owned,” or CPO, programs that many manufacturers and dealerships have begun offering.

A CPO car has typically been purchased back by a manufacturer or dealership, thoroughly inspected and maintained, and is being sold with the assurance of quality from that party. You can purchase these vehicles at the lower price of used cars, but with much more peace of mind knowing that the manufacturer backs the vehicle and offers a warranty on it. While choosing a CPO vehicle does restrict some of your freedom of choice, you’ll have to weigh the benefits of more options vs. buyer confidence.

One thing to note, however, is that there are CPO programs and vehicles offered by both manufacturers and dealerships. Manufacturer CPO cars typically have longer and more comprehensive warranties than those offered by dealerships. When looking at used cars that are labeled as Certified Pre-Owned, be sure to pay attention to whether it’s a manufacturer or dealership program, and check all the specifics of the warranty.

Lower Insurance Rates

This benefit can vary quite a bit depending on the state you live in and your insurance provider, but in general used cars can be insured for less money than those that are brand new. You can check with your insurance company to see how their rates vary, both in terms of different vehicle models and regarding new compared to used cars. While your insurance might be one of the last things on your mind when you want to buy a vehicle, the long-term costs involved with higher or lower rates can certainly make a big difference over the years that you plan on having the car.

It’s also worth noting that state taxes and fees for car ownership can also vary and be lower for used cars. Again, you’ll need to check with the licensing and taxing agencies in your state to see how different cars compare. But in some states the difference in taxes for a car that is brand new compared to one that is just a few years old can be significant.

Used car values cars in parking lot

A Community of Used Car Owners

As Americans, we love our cars. It’s bred into us and just a part of our DNA at this point. And in few places can that be seen as clearly as when you get into communities of aficionados and lovers of certain used cars. Not only are these folks incredibly passionate about certain older vehicles and year models, but they are intricately knowledgeable.

These types of communities, which often have strong online presences, not only help make you feel welcome as an owner of one of these used cars but can also make maintenance easier. You can ask questions and get advice about routine maintenance, and even find parts that you might have a hard time locating otherwise – especially for much older and classic cars. This may seem like a silly benefit until you find yourself trying to figure out a feature on your car and discover a welcoming online community with all the answers and advice you need.

Depreciation (Had to Say It)

So, this used to be the major selling point in terms of used car values, but now it’s at the end of the list. Why? Because pretty much everyone knows about it at this point. Most brand new cars and trucks can lose as much as 20-30% of their value the moment they are driven off the lot. Many vehicles depreciate as much as 50% over just the first few years. This means you can pick up these used cars for much cheaper than they would have been a year or two before.

But that’s not the reason you should buy a used car – unless you are really concerned about your vehicle as an investment (by the way: that’s what mutual funds are for). You should buy a used car because you can make your dollar stretch, choose from thousands of different models, and find other people passionate about the car you chose. Be proud of your used car, not because it’s somehow a wiser investment, but because you made the choice!

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