Buying guide

Should I buy a new or used car?

Deciding whether to buy a new or used car is hard. We'll walk you through the pros and cons of each option.

One of the biggest calls to make when choosing your next car is deciding whether you want a brand new car or used vehicle. Each option has its merits, so let’s focus on what’s most important.

In with the new?

The lovely thing with a new car is that it’s brand spanking new, never been mistreated or run into the ground by an ex-owner and you can confidently expect that the car will be in pristine condition when you take ownership.

The not so lovely thing with a new car? The depreciation of its financial value can be a bitter pill to swallow. On average, a new car plummets in value by between 20–30% the second it leaves the dealer’s lot. Ouch.

New car pros:

  • The car will likely feature the latest technology.
  • No questionable owner history or potentially dodgy repairs.
  • The odometer reading is certain to be accurate.

New car cons:

  • Massive vehicle value depreciation.
  • Higher cost to get a good car than the equivalent used version.

Picking pre-owned?

There are various reasons why the majority of Kiwis prefer buying a used car, but the key motivating factor is that we need to buy a car that fits within our lifestyle budget and, more often than not, this means opting for a used vehicle. Also, we’re a smart, practical bunch and we don’t like seeing our assets depreciating within the blink of an eye.

So that means a used car is the way to go, right? Maybe, but it’s not as simple as that. It might not plummet in value the second you hang your furry dice from the rearview mirror, but there are other potential pitfalls you need to consider with a used car purchase.

Remember, used cars will always have a history and can come with some potential baggage.

With this in mind, we highly recommend getting a comprehensive mechanical check on the vehicle. This will help establish if your potential next car has been badly treated by its former owner or if it’ll soon have some hefty maintenance issues.

If buying used, do yourself a huge favour by getting a Vehicle Information Report (VIR) from MotorWeb. Amongst other things, this would help ensure that by purchasing the car you’re not inadvertently committing yourself to the burden of any existing money owing on it.

Used car pros:

  • More bang for your buck – a great car for less money.
  • The vehicle value will depreciate far less rapidly.
  • Improved build quality of cars means used vehicles are lasting longer than ever.

Used car cons:

  • More checks required: background and mechanical etc.
  • Potentially dodgy vehicle history or money owing.

Hopefully, this advice makes it less of a dilemma for you when deciding if a new or used car is your best option. Check out our other advice and tips on how to successfully complete your car buying journey.