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There’s a certain appeal to buying a brand new car right off the showroom floor. That new-car smell is pretty intoxicating. However, be ready to shell out the bucks for that short-lived sniff. The average price of a new car is a whopping $35,309 – an all-time high, according to Kelly Blue Book. On the other hand, used car prices are dropping fast, thanks to a glut of off-lease vehicles. With the over-abundance of used vehicles flooding the market, finding the right used car for the right price should be an easier task than in the past. A word of caution: Not all used cars are bargains. You need to do your homework before you walk onto the lot.
With that said, here is a list of six reasons why a used car is the smart buy.
If saving money is your goal, a used car will give you a whole lot of ‘mileage’ in that area. First, you won’t pay the retail price. The adage that a new car depreciates as soon as it’s driven off the showroom floor is still true today. The depreciation on new cars is about 30 percent in the first year alone. You can avoid that loss just by buying a one-year-old car, although that may be harder to find than one that is two or three years old. Used cars in this range will still depreciate but at a much lower rate.
Lower Insurance Premiums
Since a used car has less value than a new one, insurance premiums are lower. Now, you have to compare apples to apples here to determine the savings. The same coverage on a two-year old Corvette is likely to be higher than that on a brand-new Impala. If you’re financing the car, most states require a certain level of insurance. If not, you may decide to insure only the minimum required by law in your state, which is usually liability coverage.
With the flood of lease returns in the used car market, it will be easy to find a dealer that offers certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. Buying CPO offers all the benefits of a new car, including warranties and attractive financing, but at a much lower price. A caveat: Some dealers stamp CPO on their used cars because it passed a few inspection points. Manufacturer-backed CPOs are often sold with a comprehensive inspection (which can be hundreds of items) and a warranty that runs the same amount of time as that of a new car. Be sure to read through all the details to make sure you’re getting what you expect.
While it’s true that you are likely to find lower interest rates for new cars, think of the amount of time that you will be paying for the car’s financed price. Remember, a new car depreciates around 30 percent in the first year. A quick chat with your bank will reveal the true savings.
In the past, buying a used car was akin to rolling the dice. No one wants to buy someone else’s problems. Today’s vehicles are on the road well past the 100,000 miles of most warranties – many even last beyond the 200,000-mile marker, essentially doubling the useful life. Buying a car newer than four or five years old will provide you with years of reliable service. Services like Carfax and AutoCheck offer a report of a vehicle’s history for a small fee – saving you money and sanity in the long run. While there are plenty of clunkers out there, buying a CPO vehicle from a reputable dealer and doing your research will mitigate much of the guesswork.
Reduced Registration Fees
Most states set registration fees based on the cars market value. In some states, it’s not unusual to have a $500 or higher registration fee on a new car. If your car is three or more years old, you can save hundreds over the registration fee for a new car.
That new-car smell doesn’t last as long as we want it to. Do you really want to pay for the privilege of being the first to own your next car? By putting in the effort of researching and factoring in all the costs involved, from the initial purchase to long-term expenses, the math will show the benefit of purchasing a quality used car over a new one.