It's easy to see the attraction of a shiny new car that's built to your specifications, but the pull of landing a pre-loved bargain can be equally as enticing. Used cars can be more affordable than brand new models, and there is a lot of choice out there on the used market.
In fact, used car sales outstrip new-car purchases by three to one in the UK every year. And as cars are becoming more robust and reliable thanks to new technology, the risks of buying a used model carry less weight than they might have a decade ago.
If you’re caught in between buying a new or used car, read on. We’re here to help you make an informed decision about what the best option is for your needs and your budget.
There are many advantages of buying a new car, from choosing the exact specifications to enhanced fuel efficiency. Below, we’ve broken down the main benefits of buying a new car.
Whether you’re after an economical run-around or a sleek sports car, buying a new car enables you to choose the vehicle’s exact specifications. Finding your ideal used car can be a little trickier, but the payoff of finding a bargain that matches your desired specification can be hugely rewarding.
Aside from the standard custom potential like paint jobs, new car purchases often include personalisation options across a range of components, including graphics, premium interior materials and contrasting roof colours.
As the brand-new car’s first owner, you will have complete control over how it’s driven and maintained from day one, eliminating worries about how your car has been driven previously, or if any scratches or scuffs have been covered up. Your new car will also generally be covered by a full manufacturer warranty, providing further reassurance and peace of mind.
Many car manufacturers update their vehicles regularly, as cutting-edge technology gathers pace. Take Bluetooth compatibility; once a pioneering modification, it’s now outdated compared to more advanced systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which allow your car and phone to integrate seamlessly.
What’s more, tech advancements are not restricted to premium cars – they are fast becoming more prevalent in humble hatchbacks too. The Nissan Micra, for instance, now features technology (Trace Control) that steers you back into your lane if you’re drifting into danger. Therefore, buying a brand-new car ensures you’re getting the latest driving technology.
Brand-new vehicles may offer attractive finance rates, such as 0% APR finance packages. However, bear in mind that such rates are often counterbalanced by other new car discounts, so your monthly payments may still be higher than a nearly new model.
Approximately eight million used cars are sold in the UK every year, so there is considerable choice of motors to choose from. Another key consideration is that approximately 20% of a new car’s value is lost when you drive it off the forecourt – a financial hit you can swerve by buying a used car.
What’s more, many modern cars include extended warranties, meaning that they could still be covered when a buyer chooses to invest in a second-hand vehicle.
Most brand-new cars are sold at a premium price, due in part, to the willingness of consumers to pay for a shiny new car. Cars depreciate quickly though, so there could be major savings to be made on second-hand cars.
Car tax is a crucial consideration when buying a new car. If the car you decide to buy is not electric, for instance, your annual car tax will be at least £140 from the second year of ownership. Moreover, brand-new cars costing more than £40,000 also include a £310 yearly surcharge for the first seven years of ownership.
If you opt for a used car registered before April 2017, however, you will pay a lot less tax if it is a low-emissions model (less than 121g/km of CO2). The maximum you will have to pay for one of these models is £30 p.a. – a significant saving not to be sniffed at. Bear in mind however, that cars registered before March 2001 will face a considerably higher rate of tax. Before buying, determine your tax fee by checking the car’s emission figure.
Used car finance has significantly changed in the past decade, with buyers now having access to the same flexible, low-interest rates that new car buyers are offered. The most popular used car finance option is Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), due to its flexibility and budget-friendly monthly payments.
With PCP, the amount is directly related to the car’s expected value loss over the PCP term. New cars, on the other hand, depreciate quickly, so your monthly payments are likely to increase. In summary, used car finance may work out cheaper in the long run.
If a new car is sold with a three-year warranty, for instance, that warranty still applies when the car is sold, providing you with extra reassurance and peace of mind.
Waiting times for popular cars can stretch for months, while used cars bypass waiting lists so you can be on the road in no time.
There’s no easy answer to this question, and the answer will depend on your priorities. Generally, however, it’s fair to say that if you’re looking for a car that’s in perfect condition, you’ll be best looking at new cars, while if you’re looking for a bargain, a used car might be a better option.