A simples guide

Should I buy a new or a used car?

Choosing between a brand-new or a used car can be difficult. We explore the pros and cons of both to help you make your decision.


If you’re ordering a brand-new car direct from the factory, you’ll be able to get it to your exact specification, whether that’s having candy-pink leather seats or a high-end entertainment system. But if you’re not too worried about customised interiors, then buying something nearly new (usually less than three years old) or used might be perfectly okay.

There’s a huge choice of nearly new and used cars on the market, so you should be able to find something that has all the features important to you, such as enhanced security. Plus, if you’re looking for a model that’s no longer manufactured, then the used car market could be right up your street.


New cars will always come with a warranty, the length will depend on the manufacturer but most will offer something between three and five years. Having a warranty offers peace of mind – if there’s a fault with your car, it’s down to the manufacturer to sort it out.

Depending on how old your nearly new car is (and where you bought it from) it should still have a fair amount of manufacturer’s warranty attached to it. Most used cars will have very little (if any) of that warranty left, unless you’ve opted for a model with a longer guarantee.
If you’re buying a used car from a dealer, they may offer you a warranty of their own (the length of the warranty is up to them).

And if you’re buying from a private seller, the chances of having a warranty are extremely slim, so it’s up to you to ask the right questions about the car and check it thoroughly before you buy it.

car driving

Consumer Rights Act 2015

The Consumer Rights Act states that new and used cars from official car dealers must be:

  • Of a satisfactory quality (taking into account the car’s age and its mileage)
  • Fit for purpose
  • As described

If the car doesn’t meet these requirements, then you’re entitled to reject the car within the first 30 days after you’ve bought it. If you discover a fault with the car after 30 days but before six months, you’re entitled to ask the dealer to repair the car, replace it or give you a refund. If a fault comes to light after six months, then the onus will be on you to prove the problem was there at the time you bought the car.

Reliability and technology

New cars will feature the latest technology, which should make the driving experience easier and better. On the whole, new technology also means that brand-new cars are safer than their older counterparts – they often have cameras and sensors to keep track of dangers you might miss or alerts that warn you of a potential hazard.

New cars should be more efficient, so fuel and road tax (or vehicle excise duty) may not cost you as much as an older model. They should also be more reliable – however, bear in mind that if the model is brand new, there may be unforeseen problems that only get discovered over time.

Nearly new or used cars will usually have had a long line of antecedents, so any early-model quirks and gripes will usually have been sorted out on more recent used versions.


As a general rule, new cars will be safer than older models and you should be watchful of comparing cars of different ages. The Euro NCAP tests are used to rate cars for their safety (the more stars, the better). The tests are updated regularly and become more rigorous almost every year – that means that a car that was awarded five stars a few years ago might not achieve the same score today.

car wheel and sunset

Initial cost and depreciation

One of the key advantages of buying a nearly new or used car is that it will be cheaper. Less expensive doesn’t mean you get less to choose from either, as there’s a huge number of used cars on the market; and as your money goes further, you might find yourself a higher spec model than you could otherwise afford.

You can still get a good deal on a brand-new car if you get a dealership desperate to meet its sales targets. Some dealers also offer 0% finance packages that might be worth considering.

If you decide to buy your car so new that it comes from the factory, then bear in mind this can add to the cost. You may also have to wait until your car is shipped over – which can take weeks or months depending on the model. You can avoid delays and extra expense by buying a pre-registered car; these are still brand new but have been bought by the dealership as stock. However, you may not be able to get a pre-registered car that meets your exact specifications.

Depreciation is probably one of the biggest arguments in favour of buying a used car as some brand-new cars lose as much as 60% of their value by the end of their third year. Some cars will depreciate slower than others – fuel-efficient models, for example, tend to depreciate more slowly because of their increased popularity.

Is it cheaper to insure a new or old car?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer as to whether it’s cheaper to insure a new or old car. It’s true that part of your insurance premium will be based on your car and, generally, the newer the car, the better its security and safety, which may attract a lower premium. Equally, it may cost an insurance provider more to replace a brand-new car than an older car in the event of a claim.

Car insurance is tailored to you, your car and where you live. So to find the right policy for you, start comparing the market. We’ll compare more than 100 car insurance providers to find a deal that suits you, at a price you can afford.

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