You've picked your car and you're ready to get your own set of wheels - but are you looking to buy new, or buy used? We look at the pros and cons.

Buying a used car from a dealer

While buying a used car might not seem as exciting as buying a brand new one, there are so many options – and many of them might be just as good as having that new car smell. 

Pros: If the car is less than 10 years old, you’ll get a statutory warranty and might even have the option to purchase additional warranties. You don’t have to worry about money owing on the car either, because the dealer would’ve taken care of it. You can research the dealer before heading there and even trade in your old car, saving time. 

Cons: Buying a used car from a dealer will likely be more expensive than buying one from a private seller. You may also feel pressure to make a quick decision, as you’ll be dealing with a professional sales team. 

'For sale' sign on car at dealership
There are so many options when buying a used car to suit your budget

Buying a used car from private sale

The most important thing to do when buying from a private seller is to figure out what kind of history the car has had. 

If the car you’re looking at is an older model, keep in mind the ongoing costs for maintenance and fuel. Things start to wear out more frequently as a car gets older and older cars are generally a little less fuel efficient than their younger counterparts.

Pros: Buying privately can often be cheaper than going through a car dealership. If the seller is in a hurry to sell their old vehicle, they may accept a quick deal. If they’ve taken good care of their vehicle, this can be a great selling point – a well-maintained car at a discount.

Cons: These sales are unregulated and can carry some risk if you don’t do some research before making the purchase and inspect the car well when you see it. Do a PPSR check to see whether the car has money owing on it. 

Here’s how to avoid buying a lemon

Buying a brand new car

It’s a great feeling driving out of the dealership with your very own brand new car. But buying a new car may or may not be the best option for you, so before you fall in love with that shiny machine, there are some things to consider. 

Pros: Buying new can offer peace of mind. It’s less likely to break down, and will be covered by a warranty. The car’s up-to-date technology means better fuel economy and better safety features. 

Cons: New cars depreciate much more rapidly than an older used car, and depending on the model can lose about 40 per cent of their value within the first three years. To see just how much depreciation impacts on a car’s value check our car running costs guide.

Last updated December 2017

Used or new – be ready regardless

Before you decide on your dream car, check in with RAC Finance for a pre-approved loan. That way you know how much you can spend, plus you can be ready to sign if you’ve found the one.

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