You need a new set of wheels, and making the decision between new and used can be hard. Is buying new the best choice? Is it OK to buy a used car? It turns out, a new car may not be the best deal for everyone. We’ve drafted a list of six types of people that may appreciate what the used car lot has to offer.
6 Types of People Who Should Consider a Used Car
- The Student
Brand new cars come with car payments, licensing and insurance — expenses most students (even students who are working their way through school) don’t have room for in their budgets. An obvious advantage of buying a used car is lower cost. Students just need reliable transportation between school and work and other activities, and most students can find a reliable used car that is more budget-friendly, and still leave them room for late-night pizza runs with their friends.
- The New Grad
If you just got your degree and are starting your first post-grad job, you may be tempted to make your first big purchase. No more ramen noodles — you finally have a little breathing room in your budget! Before cruising the dealership for a new car, consider this: Within the next few months, you will need to find an apartment, buy furniture and start paying off your student loans. New grads have a lot of expenses to budget for already — adding a new car to the mix may not make sense immediately after graduation. If you have a used car that runs well, consider changing the oil and doing a bit of routine maintenance so that you can drive your car a few more miles.
- The Mortgage Shopper
If you are looking to buy a house or refinance your mortgage, lenders will tell you that now is not the time to add expenses to your budget — including a new car. Many people will receive their initial mortgage approval and then buy a new set of wheels, but experts warn that this could put your new mortgage in jeopardy. If your car breaks down while you are in the middle of the house-buying process, consider a used car with low miles.
- The Researcher
You have likely heard that a car depreciates the moment you drive it off the lot. While it’s not quite that dramatic, cars do depreciate more in the first year than any other year after that. Most cars are built to run well for over 100,000 miles; would you rather buy the new car and pay $30,000, or would you rather buy a gently used car that is one or two years old and spend $17,000 for the same car? The person who thrives on research will likely elect to let someone else take the depreciation and save a large percentage of the purchase price.
- The Negotiator
If you shop for the best deal on everything (think: groceries to services and more) you know car buyers can find (and negotiate) the best deals on models that the dealership is trying to sell. Some dealers can offer bigger discounts based on the incentives they receive from the manufacturer. Dealer incentives are responsible for all sorts of discounts when the manufacturer is trying to get dealerships to make way for new inventory. Often you can find a better deal — or negotiate a better price — if you are willing to look at a slightly used car that they want to get off their lot. Deal shoppers live for this situation, and can negotiate a much lower price, and often a maintenance package that’s included.
- The Social Climber
Many people look at their cars as a status symbol, and driving a “luxury” car can fill them with pride. Why drive a Honda when you can afford an Audi, they say. If this is you, know this: For the same price as a new Honda Pilot, you could be driving a Land Rover, an Audi or a BMW that is just a year or two old. Many dealerships will offer maintenance packages and warranties that cover the car from bumper to bumper. These luxury brands tend to be more timeless, and don’t make drastic design changes from year to year, so age isn’t as apparent.
If you think buying a used car might be the right choice for you, do your homework before you step on the car lot. Plan your budget and have an honest understanding of what you can afford to pay. Arm yourself with tools that will help you determine the value of the car you want — Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds have tools that are easy to use.
If you are serious about a used car, ask the dealer for a CarFax report, which will give you the vehicle history, and detail things like accident and flood damage. Car dealers usually supply this to you free of charge. You can also ask to have the car looked over by a mechanic you trust before making the final purchase.
New or used, buying a car is a big decision. Make sure to contact your local Farm Bureau agent to make sure you’re covered when you drive off the lot.