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Choosing Between Buying a New or Used Car from "My Car, My Life"or Not (Part 1)

Updated on November 30, 2013

The Automotive Blog for Independent Women...

The time has come to replace the trusty old steed. Before you begin the paralysis-inducing process of determining which model from which manufacturer to make your own (the number of choices is mind-numbing), you need to answer one question: New or Used?

Back in the day, answering this question was pretty straightforward – If you were willing to put up with the cost of major repairs (and couldn’t afford a new car), then you bought used and crossed your fingers.

But cars are much more durable these days. Whereas 100K miles used to put a car at the gates of car heaven (aka: the salvage yard), many today are just hitting their stride. (50 is the new 40 anyone?)

So, if you buy right and buy smart, buying used might just get you more car for your money. Think of it like buying slightly-used couture.

Say you have Mercedes taste but a Civic budget. With a little smart shopping, you can get an older Benz in great shape and be smiling while you’re styling! Here’s the great thing about the German car manufacturers (Audi, BMW & Mercedes Benz) – they typically make major body-style changes every 10 years. And, truth-be-known, these changes aren’t really radical. They’re typically more evolutionary than revolutionary. And their designs are usually visually enduring so you’re never really going to look like you’re driving “last year’s shoes.”

Besides, older models are vintage and going vintage makes its own statement….

To ensure buying used is the smart choice for you, always have a trusted mechanic check out the vehicle. If you belong to AAA, they have recommended and certified mechanics at local shops who perform 86-point inspections – and the Club will rebate you $45 of the cost. Definitely smart!!

The other smart thing you’ll want to do is set aside a few thousand dollars in a savings account as a “just in case fund” – just in case something does break. If you never use it, consider it the down payment for your next vehicle (that’s truly better than using if for that new couture piece you’ve been eyeing, trust me.)

Now, suppose you’re in the situation that calls for the best car at the most cost-effective price. You may very well be the “Car as Utility” type of woman. In this case, your best option is to find a low-to-medium mileage Honda, Toyota or Nissan model. Why? They are “bullet-proof.” They tend to be extremely reliable when well cared for and won’t force you to raid that secret shoe fund if repairs are needed.

Food for thought – If you’re just starting out, buying one of these vehicles can really help you move up to what you really want, if you’re disciplined and are willing to work a four- to five- year plan. Details of this strategy in an upcoming article, so keep checking back and reading….

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