Why buy used?Used. Pre-owned. Previously enjoyed. Gone are the days of the shark-skin-suit-clad used car salesmen offering heaps that were owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays. Today, late-model used cars are not only a safe buy, they make good financial sense. This article will highlight the advantages of buying used over new, so you can decide which is best for you.
The same car for less moneyWhen you buy used, you miss out on the heaviest depreciation hit. A new Honda Accord LX will set you back around $21,500. Buy a similarly-equipped two-year-old Accord with 24,000 miles and you'll pay about $4,000 less. (And that's for a car that holds its value well. A Mitsubishi Galant ES costs about the same new as an Accord; 2 years and 24,000 miles later it's $7,000 cheaper.)
More car for the same moneyA nicely equipped new Toyota Corolla XRS will set you back around $18,000. But what if you want something bigger? For the same amount of money, you could buy a two-year-old Toyota Camry loaded to the gills or a three-year-old Avalon, Toyota's biggest sedan. Planning on growing your family? You'll find plenty of four-year-old Honda Odyssey minivans in the new Corolla's price range.
You can also move up in prestige. A new Toyota Camry XLE V6 with all the bells and whistles is a nice ride; at $30,000 it had better be. But for the same price (or even a couple grand less), you could be stylin' in a two-year-old Lexus ES330, Audi A6 or BMW 325i.
Certified pre-ownedMore and more manufacturers offer "certified pre-owned" programs. Cars sold as certified pre-owned (CPO) bridge the gap between new and used. They are subject to a rigorous inspection and repair process, and usually are covered by a warranty from the manufacturer. CPO cars will usually cost a bit more, but the added warranty and peace of mind makes them a good value.
Why not buy used?Are there disadvantages to buying used? A few. Financing is generally more expensive for used cars (though this may be offset by cheaper insurance rates), and if you prefer to lease, a used car probably isn't a viable option. By buying a used car, you may be missing out on some of the latest-and-greatest safety and technical gadgets. And, of course, there's that new car smell. Let's face it: Having a new car is a great feeling.
In the end, all of these things have a price, often several thousand dollars. Is it worth it? That's up to you -- but if you're looking to stretch your car-buying dollar as far as possible, it's hard to argue against buying used.