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How to Choose Between a Used or New Vehicle

Updated on April 1, 2014

Buying a new vehicle is not a bad way to go since you know what you are getting into with a brand new vehicle with less than 15 miles, but just know that once you drive the vehicle off the lot it loses value quickly. In fact, a newer vehicle will lose a big portion within the first year or two of owning it. A good judgement when buying a vehicle new is buying it the second year even with the same mileage as buying same year. This will be a drastic drop in price and you are still buying new. However, buying a used vehicle is not necessarily a bad option either; besides it's still new to you. Just be prepared to do some research on the vehicle you want prior to shopping. Shop around and go to a reputable dealer no matter what vehicle you want to purchase.

Ask your friends and family on their preference of a dealership. Do not settle for a “buy here, pay her” place unless they are willing to stand behind their product like the bigger dealers.

Rightfully there are multiple things to consider, but knowing what you want makes purchasing a vehicle seem like a breeze even with a checklist of things to consider. Used or New, as long as the vehicle is mechanically and structurally sound it doesn't matter which way you choose.

Personal Experience Checklist:

In my experiences I have compiled a list to go by when trying to purchase a used vehicle. I know sometimes the small things are really all that matter, but keep in mind when buying a vehicle it's usually for the long haul. In my opinion, the top main concerns when buying a used vehicle are as follows:

1. Engine: noise, operation and leaks.

2. Brakes: smooth pedal operation and pads/rotors.

3. Transmission: operates correctly with no noise or hard/delayed shift with no leaks.

4. Accessories: Make sure all work properly; any power locks, sunroof, or radio/navigation (these can be costly repairs).

Even if the vehicle is new, that doesn't mean something in it can't go wrong. The good thing about that is most, if not all, will be covered under warranty. Even used vehicles are still covered under warranty by the manufacturer if it still falls within the year or miles time frame.

Additional Tips to Consider:

If you want a reliable vehicle that you can be proud to own there are many important factors to consider before making the final leap. Besides, this vehicle is going to get you from point A to point B, then over to point C, and probably point D and back to point A, all in a single day.

1. Ask for Carfax and AutoCheck, make sure you ask for both. Sometimes there is an error that may not be correctable on one vs. the other. If you review both, being both clean, then you are on a good road to a sound vehicle. Also, one of these reports may show information that the other did not catch. Plus you can find out if the vehicle you are checking out was purchased at auction.

Even low mileage vehicles may have issues that the eye can't see, i.e. flood, frame, salvage. Just because it has low miles doesn't mean it isn't susceptible to collisions, hurricanes, flood waters, etc.

2. Ask for a visual or laser Frame Check. You want to make sure that your vehicle is structurally sound. In the used car market, dealers will buy their vehicles at auction and try to pass them off as good vehicles.

3. Shop around. Don’t settle for your first find. There is no harm in looking and test driving multiple vehicles. Also, if you find a make and model you like, test drive another of the very same to certify that the two drive similar.

4. When you find the one you want, don’t settle for the sticker price. Everyone knows there is definitely haggle room. If you are not happy with the price, stay firm. If you can’t afford it, go to another location with a similar vehicle and try again. You can go back and forth to the two dealerships to see which one is willing to give you the better deal.

5. Ask how the dealership got the vehicle; auction, new car trade, or just purchased from another seller. Ask for maintenance records.

6. Ask to see maintenance records if available. Make sure there are no abnormal noises coming from the vehicle.

7. Always take someone with you. You may not know the right questions to ask, but your partner might.

8. Find out what is left on the manufacturer’s warranty and if the dealership is willing to add extra time.

Wholesale Option:

Even when you think all is lost with buying a vehicle, thinking that it isn't affordable, only beat up vehicles are in your price range, or you just simply can't find any in your area. Just remember that most customer have access to go to a wholesale auto auction. Same vehicles at a lower cost. When dealers buy vehicle wholesale there is usually a mark up of at least $1,500-$2,000 on most vehicles, newer or older. This is what dealers don't want you to know.

Dealers will get there inventory a fast and easy way without the hassle of waiting on a trade from another customer. This isn't a always a bad thing, especially if you know up front where he is getting it. However, the downside to this option is not all auctions allow the retail customer to get in through the gates.

Fun. Fun. Fun.

All the points are valid and need to be looked into when purchasing, but that doesn't mean it has to be homework or another job you are doing. Make it fun and exciting, especially when test driving. Who else will let you drive an expensive Mercedes or BMW even when you can't afford it, shhh... no one has to know.

Eventhough there seems to be a lot to consider when purchasing a new or used vehicle, just know that when you do it's going to be a fun ride home.


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