It’s hard to resist the lure of that new car smell. And, for many, a new vehicle is the ultimate status symbol. But if you’re on a budget, purchasing a used car can still provide the thrill of buying the ultimate big-ticket item — with a much smaller price tag.
|Lose 20-30% of value in first year||Already depreciated in value--you pay less|
|Covered under warranty||Certified used vehicles offer warranty|
|Attractive rates on dealer financing||Competitive financing available|
|Insurance coverage usually more expensive||Usually lower insurance costs|
|Wide selection of customized options||Expensive options already installed|
|No concern about vehicle history||Reputable dealers mitigate risks|
What to look for
Before you start car shopping, make a list of all the key vehicle features you are looking for. This will help you to separate what you need from what you merely want. Consider such things as:
- Does it have the cargo space you need?
- Are the driver controls comfortable to use and easy to find?
- Does it have the passenger space you need today — and may need for your growing family three years from now?
Take a test drive
Regardless of whether you buy a new or used car, taking a test drive is essential. Try to simulate as closely as possible your day-to-day driving patterns and make sure the vehicle handles well.
- If you do a lot of highway driving, take the vehicle onto the highway.
- If you’re a city driver, check out how easy it is to squeeze into tight parking spaces.
- If you live in a hilly area, test if the vehicle has the climbing power you need.
- If you often have a car full of backseat passengers, bring them with you, and get in the back yourself to see how comfortable it feels.
Being practical doesn’t mean you can’t go for a few bells and whistles. But make sure you buy a vehicle that is going to meet your needs and fit in with the reality of your daily life.