The Disadvantages vs. the Advantages of Buying a Used Car

by Neil Kokemuller

Buying a used car is often a bit more risky than purchasing a new vehicle, but a lower price point, lower auto insurance premiums and reduced upfront depreciation are core benefits. You normally do miss out on warranty, safety and environmental benefits with a used auto purchase, though.

Used Car Pluses

Cost advantages are a key driver of used vehicle purchases. A new car typically loses up to 45 percent of its value within its first three years, according to Infinity Auto Insurance. Therefore, when you buy a used vehicle, you aren't paying this upfront premium on the product only to see it lose value right away.

Another cost advantage with a used car purchase is lower insurance premiums. Infinity reports that insuring a used car is less than coverage for a new one. Taxes and registration fees are also usually lower with a used car.

Used Car Disadvantages

Primary drawbacks of purchasing a used vehicle center on the uncertainty. You can have a car independently inspected before a purchase, but it is often difficult to identify the effects of wear and tear that could lead to problems shortly after you buy. With a used car, you can expect to deal with more wear and repair needs than you do soon after a new car purchase, according to Cars.com.

Buying used also means you aren't getting the latest design and technology features on the market. Depending on when the car was manufactured, you may also miss out on new safety developments, according to Infinity. New cars also tend to have less toxic effects on the environment.

If you do buy used, expect to put more research time into the process as well. You have more risk with a used vehicle because of the more limited or nonexistent warranties and the uncertainty. Getting a vehicle history report and having a mechanic look over the car before purchase are among time-consuming steps.

Impact of the Provider

Not all providers are the same, which may affect the value of a used car purchase. Some buyers get a lower price by purchasing a car from a private seller, but private sellers may not provide details about accidents or mechanical trouble. You rarely get a warranty with a private purchase as well. Therefore, purchasing a vehicle history report is essential. Angie's List points out that less-reputable dealerships may present greater risks than a private seller, though.

Dealerships often offer dealer or factory-certified preowned programs to put buyers at ease. These programs outline the various car maintenance inspections conducted by the dealer or manufacturer.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.