I got asked a question this week that gave me pause. Typically, when someone asks me a car question, I’m ready with a quick, educated and, if I’m feeling really good, witty response.
This question, though, left me silent for a few moments as I pondered my potential responses. My gut reaction and my logical mind weren’t cooperating with one another, and the resulting battle left me momentarily speechless. The question, in theory, should have an easy answer.
But all I could muster in the early moments of my response was a half-hearted, “Well, it depends, I suppose…”
Here’s the question. As usual, we’d love your input on this issue:
“When buying a car that I intend to keep until the day it hits the crusher, is buying new going to get me the best deal?”
Now that I’ve had some time think about this, my answer is clear. With one major caveat: It depends.
Factors to consider in this question include the class of car being purchased, the price, how far into the model history the car is, and depreciation. My friend was under the impression that the “best years” of a car’s life are the first two or three, and that’s where I got hung up. Typically it’s the first year or two when any significant problems will show up in a car if they’re going to. That’s especially true in a vehicle that’s new to the market and doesn’t have a long reliability history.
My advice, even for someone with such long-term plans, is to check out the CarGurus used listings and find a great deal on a car that’s one to three years old. Doing so will save money on the purchase price, the car will be just starting its prime years and will, most likely, still have some warranty left.
The only things given up are the satisfaction of knowing you’re the only owner and, of course, the memories of how good the car smelled as it rolled off the dealer’s lot brand new. The only real value of those items is created by the buyer. For me, buying used and saving money is worth the sacrifice, even over the long haul.
If you planned to keep your next car for 10 years or more, would you buy new?