If You're in the Market For Some New Wheels, Is It Financially Better to Buy a New or Used Vehicle?
About the author: Lamar Watson, CFP®, is a Fee-Only Financial Advisor in the Washington, D.C. area that works with clients virtually across the country. Lamar's work with his clients focuses on budgeting, employee benefits, paying down debt, buying their first home, and investing. Lamar is the Founder of Dream Financial Planning, a virtual Fiduciary Financial Planning firm specifically designed to help young professionals and minorities take control of their finances and fulfill their dreams. Feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn how we use the DREAM Financial Planning Process ™ to help our clients achieve their goals.
When shopping for a new car, it can be hard to decide whether to buy brand new or save some money and get a used one. Neither option is entirely perfect, which is why we have gathered pros and cons to both new and used vehicles to aid you in your decision.
Pros of Buying a New Car
Purchasing a new car typically means you can have peace of mind knowing it won’t break down anytime soon. And in the off chance, there is an issue, the car is likely under warranty for the first few years or couple thousand miles of its life.
From automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control to lane-keeping assistance, these safety features are standard in most new cars sold today. If advanced safety features like these are important to you, purchasing a brand new car may be the way to go.
Buy With Ease
Not only will you have more options in makes and models, but car dealerships tend to do a lot of the legwork for you when it comes to paperwork, pre-purchase inspections, etc. It likely won’t be hard to find the type and model car you’re interested in purchasing, and you won’t have to worry about looking into accident reports, previous maintenance checks, or owner histories.
Buying a new car is a favorable option in the eyes of a lender, meaning most borrowers seeking auto loans will get better interest rates when purchasing a new vehicle.
Cons of Buying a New Car
Higher Price Tag
Car prices are rising, and new cars are costly. The average cost of a new car is over $38,000, 3.9 percent higher than the average in August 2019.1
Since you’ll be taxed on the entire price of your new car, you’ll likely be paying more in taxes than if you were to buy a used car.
Lenders and leasing companies may ask you to have gap insurance to cover the difference between what you owe on the loan or lease and your new vehicle’s value. Your lender may also require you to have certain auto insurance, such as collision and comprehensive coverage.
Pros of Buying a Used Car
Not only are used cars priced cheaper, but you’ll also likely be paying less in sales tax. Buying a used car could save you thousands, and you may not need to obtain an auto loan to purchase it if you have enough saved up (saving you interest as well).
(Potentially) Lower Insurance Premiums
If you’re purchasing a used car, you may not need to or be required to obtain the same level of coverage as you would when purchasing a brand new car. The make, model, and year of the car you’re looking to insure will also affect how much you pay in insurance premiums.
Maybe you can’t afford your dream car brand new yet, but you could potentially buy one that’s been used. You have to be willing to take a car that has higher mileage or a few imperfections. This may also make upgraded models more affordable, meaning you could buy a used car with heated seats, leather interior, sunroof, etc.
Avoid a Depreciation Hit
A car depreciates in value as soon as it's purchased - sometimes significantly. When you buy a used car, you let the original owner take more of a depreciation hit since most of a car’s value is lost during the first few years of ownership.
Cons of Buying a Used Car
Choices Are Limited
It may be harder to find the exact model or specific features you want when looking at used cars. You’ll also likely be buying the car as-is, meaning that you’ll be buying any potential issues that it already has.
No Warranty Coverage
Unlike new cars, used cars do not typically come with warranty coverage. If you’re buying your used car from a dealership, you may have the option to purchase a warranty yourself. The exception to this is certified pre-owned vehicles, which typically will include some sort of warranty.
Financing Is Challenging
If you’re planning to purchase a used car with the assistance of an auto loan, you may find that interest rates could be higher than if you were to purchase a new vehicle. In turn, you could expect more expensive monthly payments on your vehicle.
Researching cars can be tedious and cumbersome - but narrowing your search down to new or used vehicles can help make your decision easier. Consider the pros and cons of both before heading to the dealership, as this can help drive the direction of your car search.
Dream Financial Planning Process ™
Whether you're managing student loan debt, starting a family, or considering buying your first home, the DREAM Financial Planning Process™ is tailored to the unique needs of busy professionals in their 30s and 40s. This process focuses more on short-term goals while you grow and evolve in your personal and professional life. If you're looking for guidance on Financial Planning, optimizing employee benefits, budgeting, student loans, and managing your 401k or investments, we can help.
With uncertainty surrounding the economic stability of our country, it's okay to have fears and anxieties surrounding your own savings and investments. The most productive course of action from here is to reach out to Dream Financial Planning (or whoever your trusted advisor might be) and discuss your options. It's easy to have knee-jerk reactions when it feels like the bottom is falling out, but it is imperative to make decisions using research-backed data and a level head. If you'd like a Complimentary Review and risk assessment of your investment portfolio, feel free to send me an e-mail.
On the first Thursday of every month, I send out a monthly newsletter with tips and tricks to help you manage your finances. Will your portfolio allocation lead to a $100,000+ mistake? In The January Newsletter, I discuss the benefits of an aggressive portfolio allocation for those in their 20s and 30s. There's also an article from The Wall Street Journal where I discuss the benefits of Flex Spending Accounts. Last but not least, there's a blog post about The Breakdown On Capital Gains & Taxes and Vanguard Portfolio Allocation Models.
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