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Jeruba's avatar

Some advice on car buying? (Question 3)

Asked by Jeruba (41856 points ) August 7th, 2012

(Question 1. Question 2.)

In terms of price-versus-value tradeoffs, am I better off with a new car or one that’s a year or two old?

And is it true that this (August-September) is the best time of year to shop?

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18 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

A brand new car costs you thousands of dollars the minute you drive it off the property in lost appreciation. A used, very low mileage car is a much better deal. We have always bought the demo car, with around 30 to 100 miles on it – they come loaded and you get all the extras free if you argue with them – as in “We only want a basic car, and we already saw one at another dealer, but they are far away. If you will give us their price, we will buy here”.

Do your due diligence first. Look online and visit several places.

fremen_warrior's avatar

The best strategy imo (if you can afford this option) is to buy a new one, sell it after 3 years and buy a new one again. That way you sell it just after the warranty on it expires, and the car itself hasn’t devalued that much yet. Furthermore you are always sure that your car came from a trusted source: the factory.

If on the other hand you must buy a used car always take a trusted mechanic / friend who knows a lot about cars with you, you would not believe how dishonest people can be about a car’s hdden flaws. Not really sure when the best time to shop for a car is though. Hope this helps.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Demo or left-over from previous year. One of the local dealers still has 2011 cars on his lot. Big discounts are available.

JLeslie's avatar

If you are going to keep it 5+ years I say buy new, get exactly what you like in perfect condition. @YARNLADY is right that the second you drive a new car off the lot it depreciates like crazy. So, financially it is better to buy a used car, but I think you need to look at all the factors, not just that one.

End of year prices are better. Once they start receiving the 2013 models they will want to dump their 2012 models. The only negative with that is you have to usually choose from a car they have on the lot (if they have multiple dealerships in a region it could be from cars they have at any of those dealerships) so it limits color choice and upgrades. Most Japanese cars have upgrade packages, so it is less of an issue with cars like that, because the cars tend to have similar features. Oh, there is one other negative that if you want to sell it in a couple years, the model year will be older obviously, even though it was not driven until the end of the year. But, if you plan to keep it 4+ years I wouldn’t worry about that.

I don’t recommend demos, only because people kind of abuse them sometimes. My husband once bought a demo, and it was ok, but I still shy away from it.

jerv's avatar

Definitely last years model. The best car my stepfather ever owned was a dealer-demo from the previous model year. Practically new (<5k miles) yet half the price. He went on to rack up another 350k and when he sold it, it was still in excellent shape; enough that he almost got his money back despite the mileage and the intervening 15 years.

Compare that to losing 10–40% of the value just for driving a new car off the lot.

CWOTUS's avatar

I doubt that I will ever buy a “new” car again, even though I could afford that in cash, too (well, sometimes).

I’ve been looking at reviews of the 2012 Camry hybrid, and I think that may be my next car, in 2 – 4 years or so.

marinelife's avatar

When you drive your new car off the lot, it’s value drops immediately by thousands. You are much better off with a low-mileage used car.

Sunny2's avatar

The 2012 model is the best bargain right now. I always preferred to get a new car because I didn’t want to inherit a former owner’s problem. If I knew enough about the mechanics of of an automobile, I might consider second-hand, but I don’t. My new car (a 2012 Hinda FIT) had 3 miles on it when I drove it out of the lot. It’s mine to train to start quickly. It will truly be MY car.

jerv's avatar

@Sunny2 Certified Pre-owned is pretty safe. If nothing else, they often come with warranties. It’s when you get into normal used car lots and private sales that you run the risk of a bad car.

Gabby101's avatar

I think it is a matter of preference. I prefer to buy a new car and then drive it for a while. I feel like I get exactly what I want and I know how the car has been treated from day one. If you use one of the pricing services on the internet, you can get a good deal on a new car, with used cars, it is much harder to negotiate because of all the variables (condition of the car, mileage, etc.) – that’s another reason I prefer new cars. If you are comparing sticker to a used car price you will think you’re getting a great deal, but again, if you buy a pricing report, you will pay much less than sticker for a new car. Cars that are like brand new with very low mileage are in very high demand, so it’s not that easy to get a bargain.

hearkat's avatar

With the trend toward “certified pre-owned” programs that offer warranties comparable to a new car, you can get a much nicer car for less money. The down side is not knowing how the previous owner drove the car. Sure, the CarFax will tell you if it had any accidents or major repairs, but the wear-and-tear that some people put on a car may not become evident until further down the road. My current car is the first used car I’ve ever bought, at 40,000 miles and 4 years old. I’ve put over 53,000 miles on it in the 2 years since, and it’s holding up fairly well. There were cosmetic issues in the interior that might bug some, but I’m not very anal about such things.

JLeslie's avatar

FYI carfax only shows repairs done through insurance companies.

Judi's avatar

For a while, used cars were going for a lot of money when the banks weren’t lending. Now there are some great bargains out there on low mileage used cars.

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hearkat's avatar

@JLeslie – When I bought my car, the CarFax also showed maintenance done at dealerships.

If one is buying Certified Pre-Owned through a dealership, the vehicle is usually a former lease or is less than 4 years old, and typically has been under warranty for most or all of that time. Plus the dealer is seeking it with an extended warranty, so it’s a little less worrisome.. If one is buying an older model, or from a private seller or used car lot, I’d be less inclined to trust any CarFax reports. If buying from a private seller, I’d hope they’d have all their service records to show.

I also just remembered that it is good to shop towards the end of the calendar month, because the sales staff are more motivated to boost their numbers for that month to ensure they meet or exceed quotas and boost ratings with the parent company and get a fatter commission that month.

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat Right, dealerships would show up too, I had not thought to mention that. Since crashes are usually not done at the dealership it didn’t occur to me, and I was in the mindset of researching crashes. Most cars we buy used the owners have all the documents for maintenance and repairs, but probably the average owner does not keep all of that? I don’t know. I think certified pre-owned probably is more reliable than just a regular used car on a used car lot, I agree. Although, I will say I like the experience I have had at Car Max better than most dealerships. The salespeople. if I were buying a used car I would stick to Japanese cars.

I really doubt @Jeruba is going to buy a used car from everything she has written, but I easily could be wrong.

YARNLADY's avatar

When we went in to buy our latest car, we wanted a brand new car. They had a loaded car that was last year’s model, still carried the warranty and all, but only had a few miles on it.

They really needed to get rid of it. We love it, especially the pull down DVD player, which I would never have bought, but came with.

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