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Buying a car, new or used?


Being involved in the automotive industry, people often ask me what car they should buy; I find this a very problematic question. I need to know specifics, like budget, space requirements, lifestyle, purpose, brand preference, mileage coverage and perhaps even a bit about that specific person.

One question that I do try and answer right off the bat is whether one should buy a new or used vehicle; I usually go with used, but as I discovered, used is perhaps a short-sighted answer.

Buying a used car

There are many advantages to buying a second-hand vehicle; primarily it is the lower price versus a newer model’s price. A used vehicle has also very often taken its biggest knock in terms of depreciation and therefore the previous owner has absorbed that blow. The other advantage is that you do not have to pay for the extras that might be fitted to the vehicle nor will you pay emissions tax as you would on a new car.

The problems associated with buying a used model is of course the fact that something could go wrong with the vehicle. There is the Consumer Protection Act, which would help in such a situation however there are no guarantees in this scenario and that Act only covers you for a certain period after purchase. The buyer of a used car does not have as much freedom to pick and choose when it comes to preferred specification and colour.

Buying a new car

Then again, on the new car front, there are many advantages too. For one, you are not inheriting someone else’s problems and you’re getting something that’s brand-new, with a factory warranty and in many instances a service plan, covering most maintenance costs for the first few years. There is also the benefit of specifying your own car, which would also allow you to make full use of the latest technology available on the automotive market. A new car will last longer too, as all of the components are new versus used components on a pre-owned model.

The disadvantages that are associated with new-car purchasing is of course the immediate knock one usually takes when driving the car off of the showroom floor. That initial depreciation is something that must be considered. New cars are also subject to emissions tax, should your vehicle emit more than 120g/km of CO2. All of those goodies that you’d like to see on your pride and joy, the bigger wheels, the bigger infotainment system, the cameras, radars and various other tech feature now available, all cost money, the type of money a dealer will tell you adds value but rarely does, when it comes time to sell.

The local market

New car sales have been taking a pounding after the past year so, with many outlining that the used car market is doing much better business. I approached a few of my local dealerships to see what they had to say. Without mentioning any dealer in particular I noted that three major dealerships in the Johannesburg area admitted that the used car section of their business was what kept many afloat during this period of economic uncertainty.

We have seen new car prices inflate as our currency continues to struggle. The problem that I see with people only wanting used cars is the disproportionate new versus used cars on the road. At some point in the future we will come to a place where we have less used cars that are of a reasonable age because people have been reluctant to purchase new cars over a certain period.

The other trend that we see emerging is people downsizing their vehicles to something smaller, more efficient and cheaper to maintain. It is only logical for us all to go down this road if we want to save money on transport costs

So… new or used?

When people ask me whether they should buy a new or used car I would probably still say used, however there are still benefits associated with a new car and you, as the consumer, just need to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Do you buy new or used vehicles? Share your reasons for either choice, with us.

Article written by Sean Nurse
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