Should I buy a new or used car?

Choosing whether to buy a brand-new or a used car can be difficult. We explore the pros and cons of each.

Choosing whether to buy a brand-new or a used car can be difficult. We explore the pros and cons of each.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 30 OCTOBER 2019

What to think about when buying a new vs old car

If you’re wondering whether to plump for a new or a used car, there are some considerations that you need to make.

Is the specification what I’m after?

If you’re ordering a brand-new car straight from the factory, you can choose it to your exact specification, whether you want candy-pink leather seats or a top-drawer entertainment system. But if you’re not too worried about customised interiors, buying something nearly-new (usually less than three years old) should be OK.

If you decide to buy your car new from the factory, you’ll have to wait until it’s shipped over. Depending on the model, this can take weeks or even months. To avoid delay, buy a pre-registered car. These are still brand new but a dealership will have bought them as stock. The downside of this is that it might not meet your exact specifications.

Will I get a warranty?

New cars always come with a warranty – usually between three and five years. Buying a nearly new car should mean it comes with part of the manufacturer’s warranty attached. But most used cars will have little, if any, warranty left.

If you buy a used car from a dealership, they may offer you their own warranty. But if you’re buying from a private seller, it’s up to you to ask the right questions and thoroughly check the car before you buy it.

What are my rights?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that new and used cars from official car dealers must be:

  • of a satisfactory quality (taking into account the car’s age and mileage)
  • fit for purpose
  • as described

If the car doesn’t meet these requirements, you’re entitled to reject it within the first 30 days after you 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, the onus will be on you to prove the problem was there when you bought the car.

What are the advantages of buying a new car?

New cars will often feature the latest tech, which should improve the driving experience. They’re likely to be more efficient and less polluting, so you may well pay less for fuel and road tax (or vehicle excise duty) than you would for an older model. The car should also be more reliable – although, bear in mind that brand-new models can develop unforeseen technical problems that are only discovered later, and when things go wrong, they can be more expensive to repair.

Which are safer, new or old cars?

As a rule, new cars are likely to be safer than old ones. New ones come with sensors and cameras that alert you to potential hazards.

The Euro NCAP tests rate cars for their safety (the more stars, the better). The tests are regularly updated and become more rigorous almost every year. So, a car that was awarded five stars a few years ago might not achieve the same score today.

Which are better value, new or old cars?

Obviously, the key advantage of buying a used car is that it will be cheaper. It doesn’t mean you’ve less to choose from, either, as there are a huge number of used cars on the market.

But even if you’re on a tight budget, a new car may not be out of reach. You can get a good deal on a new car if you find a dealer desperate to make their sales targets. Many dealerships also offer 0% finance packages.

One of the strongest arguments for buying a used car is depreciation: cars lose as much as 60% of their value by the end of their third year. Some cars depreciate more slowly than others – fuel-efficient models are popular and tend to hold their value more.

Is it cheaper to insure a new or old car?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer to this. The cost of your premium will depend partly on your car and, generally, the newer the car, the better its safety and security. But equally it may cost an insurance provider more to replace a new car than an old one, so this will be a factor, too.

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 a variety of car insurance providers to find a deal that suits you, at a price you can afford.

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