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Whether you’re buying the car of your dreams or one just to get you from point A to point B, it’s a huge financial decision — one that can serve you for many years at that. Comparing your options for where you buy your new set of wheels may be able to save you enough cash to mod your ride — or just fill up the tank a few times.
|Cost||Potentially more expensive||Potentially cheaper||Potentially cheaper||Cheap|
|Speed of purchase||Depends how much you shop around||Can be time-consuming||Can be time-consuming||Very fast|
|New cars available||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Used cars available||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ease of purchase||Easy||Varies — depends on the seller||Varies — depends on the seller||Easy|
If you want a shiny new set of wheels and that new car smell, you’ll probably visit local car dealerships. You can find dealerships for all major brands in cities and towns across the country — it’s just a matter of visiting your top choices to start test-driving models.
Peace of mind is the biggest advantage of buying new. A new car is just that, new — you won’t have to worry about parts being worn down, and it’s much less likely to develop issues as quickly as a used car. You also don’t need to worry about service records, previous body damage or any outstanding finance from the previous owner.
Unfortunately, buying a new car from a dealership also means paying a premium price. You can get a car with all the latest features, a new-car warranty and any options you desire — but you’re always going to pay more than you would for a used vehicle.
Finally, buying face-to-face means dealing with sales staff. Car salespeople may not have the best reputation for honesty or integrity, so keep an eye out for the dodgy sales tactics some dealers use to prey on unwitting customers. You’ll also need to deal with the pressure of sales pitches at every dealership you visit.
A used car may not have the same level of glamor and excitement as a new vehicle, but buying used allows you to save thousands of dollars. You’ll also find plenty of well-maintained used cars that have been regularly serviced and treated with the utmost care throughout their lives, so it’s certainly possible to find excellent value for money.
The trouble is not all used cars have led trouble-free lives. Mechanical problems, poor servicing history and questionable repairs following previous accidents are just a few of the potential problems lurking just beneath the surface. Dealing with used car salespeople, who have a well-established reputation for dodgy sales tactics and questionable ethics, is another drawback.
Many people begin their search for a new car online. Websites like Cars.com, Carvana and Kelley Blue Book let you browse thousands of new and used vehicles from private sellers and car dealerships.
The biggest advantage of buying a car online is that it’s extremely convenient — you can compare a wide range of vehicles and prices without having to get off the couch, and without feeling pressured to buy. Of course, you’ll still need to visit the seller to inspect the car and take a test drive, but shopping online can remove a lot of the legwork and hassle of comparing your options.
However, one of the problems with shopping online is the ad you see posted may not match the car for sale when you turn up to inspect it. There’s also no way of knowing whether private sellers that list their cars online are trustworthy, so it’s important to get an inspection done before you buy, check the car’s history and make sure there’s no finance owed on it.
Not all private car sales take place online. You could see a car advertised in the classifieds section of your local paper, or maybe just marked on the side of the road with a for-sale sign on the windshield.
Buying privately potentially allows you to score a great deal. When you find a mechanically sound car with all the features you want, you can haggle all you want with the seller and try to negotiate the best possible price.
However, you’ll need to watch out for several traps and pitfalls. A clear title isn’t guaranteed, and you could potentially be buying a stolen car. You also won’t get a warranty, so having it inspected by a mechanic is critical before you buy.
Buying a car at auction is the quickest method available, and can come with significant savings compared to buying from a dealer. Although auctions aren’t generally targeted toward private buyers, you can find a great deal if you know what you’re looking for.
You’ll typically get to inspect a vehicle before bidding, but test drives aren’t available. Some cars come with a limited warranty and others won’t — the auctioneer will announce this before bidding begins.
With this in mind, it’s important you research ahead of time and keep a cool head when bidding starts.
One final option worth considering is buying a demo car. Demo models are usually vehicles that have been used as test-drive cars, but they can also be vehicles used by dealership employees or even used as loan cars.
Because demo cars can have thousands of miles on them, you can enjoy substantial savings compared to the cost of a new vehicle. And since they’re often used to show off the best a particular model has to offer, they commonly include a range of top-of-the-line features and extras.
Keep in mind you’re not buying a completely new vehicle, so checking the car’s history before you buy is crucial.
No matter where you choose to buy a car, keep the following tips in mind to help you find the right vehicle at the right price:
If you’re willing to do your research and shop around, you can likely find a reliable car with all the right features, and without breaking the bank. To get the most out of your money, you can also compare financing options for cars.
Picture: Getty Images
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