The allure of a new vehicle can be powerful, but three times as many used vehicles as new cars are sold each year in this country. Your budget and mind-set -- some people just can't stand the idea of buying someone else's trouble -- may determine which is right for you. If you're on the fence, here's a breakdown of benefits and drawbacks.
New-car benefits and drawbacks
1. It comes with a comprehensive manufacturer's warranty of at least three years or 36,000 miles that will cover almost any eventuality. Some go to 10 years or 100,000 miles.
2. It will likely have the latest safety, comfort and convenience features available.
3. There are no surprises. You are the first owner, and there are no doubts about previous mechanical problems or accidents.
1. It will cost significantly more than a three-year-old used car.
2. Comprehensive and theft auto insurance costs could be significantly higher than buying used, although insurers offer discounts for new safety features.
3. It will lose 25 percent to 40 percent of its value the moment you buy it, likely locking you in to long-term ownership.
Used-car benefits and drawbacks
1. Significantly cheaper than a new car.
2. Comprehensive and theft insurance costs are likely to be less.
3. The rate of depreciation over time will be less than the first two years of ownership of a new car.
4. A buyer may be able to step up to a luxury model for the same price as a new plain-Jane version.
1. Questionable maintenance and repair history.
2. Comprehensive and theft insurance costs could be significantly lower, although you might miss out on insurer discounts for new safety features.
3. No comprehensive new-car warranty, though used-car warranties often are available at extra cost.
4. Higher maintenance costs as the miles on the vehicle climb toward 100,000.
5. Not as many safety and convenience features as a new vehicle.