New or used car - which one to buy?

Unsure whether your next car should be second-hand? We'll help you decide on a new or used car

John Evans
Nov 7, 2018

Choosing between a new or used car has never been tougher. Improved reliability and low-rate finance offers for second-hand models means that there are fewer clear differences to help make up your mind.

Approved used schemes offer minimum standards and guarantees too. These provide used car buyers with even more assurances - plus the confidence to buy online without seeing a car first.

And when you consider that a new car will lose value as soon as you drive it away - and could be worth less than half of its new price after three years - buying a used car can seem like a no-brainer.

But the lure of a shiny new car, built to your specification and available with tempting manufacturer offers is strong. Read on to help you decide which car you should buy. Click on each point for more details further down the page.


New or used car: the key differences

Reasons to buy a used car

Reasons to buy a new car


Buying a used car: the advantages 

Less expensive than a new car

Every brand new vehicle is sold at a premium - partly because people will pay more for a shiny new car. But that factor evaporates as soon as the car is delivered, and its value decreases.

So there are big savings on nearly new cars, which may be less than a year old. Pre-registered models can be good value too: dealers have registered these cars and put themselves as the first owner in order to hit sales targets. They are usually sold on with generous discounts, even though they may only have ten miles on the clock.

After three years, many vehicles are less than half the price that they were new, which can mean that they are tens of thousands of pounds cheaper.


Buy a better used car for the same budget as a new one

Your money goes further when you buy used. You can pocket the difference or upgrade your expectations, with a better car for the same budget.

Instead of a new city car, you might opt for a tall and rugged used crossover. You may decide to buy a high-specification used model with leather seats, sat-nav and climate control instead of a spartan entry-level new car. Or, perhaps you would prefer a used premium-brand car instead of a brand new mainstream one.


Approved used schemes provide reassurance

Buy an approved used car and you can be reassured that there are no skeletons underneath the bonnet. Every car has a thorough mechanical inspection and history check to ensure that it meets strict standards and that there is no finance outstanding, serious crash damage and that the mileage can be guaranteed. A warranty is also included. All used cars sold by BuyaCar are approved used models.


Reduce your car tax bill

Buy a new vehicle and car tax will be charged under a new (ish) set of rules. Unless you have a fully electric vehicle, this will cost you at least £140 annually, from the second year of ownership.

But if you choose a car that was first on the road before April 2017, you could pay a lot less, as long as it's rated as a low-emissions model, emitting less than 121g/km of carbon dioxide (CO2). The maximum rate of tax you'll pay for one of these models is £30 a year.

Much older cars that were first registered before March 2001 face a different, and much higher, rate of tax.


Flexible finance available at low rates

Finance options for used cars have been transformed in the past decade, and used buyers now have the same flexible offers available to new car customers, at low rates of interest.

The most popular form of finance is Personal Contract Purchase (PCP). You can pay a deposit, although it's not always needed, and then make a set series of monthly payments. At the end, you can hand the car back with nothing more to pay or buy the vehicle for a lump sum. If the car is worth more than the lump sum (which is common but not guaranteed) then you can return the car and use the difference towards the deposit on another car.

Virtually every used car is available with Hire Purchase (HP) finance, which divides the cost of the car into equal monthly payments. At the end, you own the vehicle


Warranty still valid on used cars up to seven years old

Most new cars have a three-year warranty which stays with the car when it’s sold. So, buy a one-year-old car, and you have two years’ cover remaining. But some manufacturers are now more generous. Renault, as well as, er, Ferrari and Lamborghini, offer a four-year warranty. Toyota, Subaru and Hyundai provide five years-worth of cover, while Kias come with a seven-year warranty. Even if you buy a three-year-old car, you'll have four years cover left.

Immediate used car delivery

Waiting times for the most popular new cars can stretch for months, making the process infuriatingly long. You don't have that problem with used models, including pre-registered cars, which offer many of the benefits of a new car without the wait.


Buying a new car: the advantages

Built to your specification

Whether you want an economical model that looks like a racing car, or a panoramic sunroof that lets you switch off the air conditioning, buying a new car that's built to your specification means that you're in control - as long as you can afford the extra options.


Personalisation options

Buying a new car doesn't just give you a choice of paint: more and more models can be personalised to suit your tastes, with a contrasting roof colour, graphics, and premium interior materials. The result should ensure that no other car on the road is quite like yours.


You'll be the first owner

You won't need to worry how your car has been driven or if any scratches have been covered up because you're its first owner. You'll have complete control over how it's driven and maintained from day one.

Further reassurance will come from the full manufacturer warranty.


The latest technology and safety equipment

Some car makers update their vehicles every year as the pace of development threatens to make even newly-launched cars obsolete. For example, Bluetooth for connecting your phone wirelessly is giving way to more advanced systems, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allow you to easily control your phone through an in-car touchscreen.

Advanced safety technology that can steer you back into your lane if you're drifting into danger is now available on the humble Nissan Micra, while automatic emergency braking is fast becoming standard. And efficiency gains are claimed to make the latest engines cleaner and more economical.

It means that there's often a marked difference between the very latest cars and those that are only two to three years old.


The very latest design 

The warm glow of knowing that you have a newly-launched product helps drive millions of sales each year - from phones to cars. And if it brings you pleasure, then you're likely to be in the market for a brand new car.


Manufacturer-supported finance deals

You can take advantage of low-rate finance on new and used cars, but the offers for brand new vehicles tend to be the most attractive. It's not unusual for new cars to come with 0% APR finance, which eliminates any interest charges.

However, you can't always combine rock-bottom rates with other new car discounts and your monthly payments may still be higher than if you bought a nearly-new model.


Discounted car care packages

Many new cars are now sold with free or reduced-price servicing for the first three years, saving you money on running costs. The savings are often only available when you buy the car, so aren't offered to used car customers.



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