Buying a car is an exciting time - but as anyone who has been through it before knows, it can also be stressful. After all, you're trying to get the best deal on price while also deciding on the make, model and features you need.  Of course, I can't really help you become a master negotiator when it comes to buying a car. But I can give you a few things to consider when you're looking around the lot - and when you're trying to answer the age-old question of "new, or used?" Read on with an open mind, and you might just come to a different decision the next time you're on the car lot.

New Cars

Ah, that new car smell. It's a bit of a cliche, but it's one of the things that people love about climbing into a brand-new car. And while they make air-fresheners that give you that same smell for your used car, it just doesn't seem the same, does it? Still, there are other benefits to buying new - and of course, there are drawbacks as well.

  • PRO: Maintenance. Some manufacturers offer free scheduled maintenance fora  set period of time after you buy the car, and you likely won't need a new battery, tires, etc. for several years after you purchase.
  • PRO: Peace of Mind. Your new car may have a warranty for up to 10 years, and is also covered by "lemon laws" that could allow for a replacement or refund if the car has serious defects.
  • CON: Cost. Depending on the make and model, buying a new car is almost always more expensive (at least in terms of the purchase price) than a used car.

It's also worth noting that if you purchase a new car in its first model year (meaning it's a new model for the automaker), there won't me many user reviews available and data on reliability and repairs will be limited. In addition, sometimes newly introduced cars have some kinks that are generally ironed out by the second and third model years. These aren't necessarily serious issues, and the warranty should cover them, but in some instances you and your car could be headed to the shop more than you'd like.

Used Cars

Don't care about the new car smell? Looking to save some money on your purchase? Well, a used car might be right for you. There are many advantages to buying used, but you'll want to be a little more careful. After all, it's hard to know exactly how well the previous owner treated the car. But you can limit your risk with a little bit of work.

  • PRO: Cost. New cars depreciate quickly after they're purchased. By buying used, you're letting someone else take that financial hit over the first few years of the life of the car.
  • PRO/CON: Reliability. Buying a used car is less of a gamble than it used to be, particularly with the advent of "certified pre-owned" programs many automakers now offer. However, used cars generally don't carry the same warranties as new cars, even though the original manufacturer's warranty is usually transferable to a second owner. 
  • CON: Maintenance. While a used car theoretically shouldn't need more frequent maintenance than a new car, you'll likely need to replace things like tires, headlights, etc. earlier. And scheduled maintenance probably isn't covered by the automaker.
  • PRO/CON: History. You'll need to check the car's title history to make sure it hasn't been in a serious accident or salvaged. Ask the dealership to provide this information, usually from Carfax.

Of course, whichever car you purchase, the important thing is that it's a good fit for you. Bear in mind that certain makes and models can result in higher insurance costs for you, so feel free to check with us before you buy. Have fun shopping - and we'll see you on the road!

Want more information on buying a car? Check out this page in our research center: Buying a Car