Buying a car is a significant financial decision, that carries far reaching implications on your daily life. Due to the significant expense of buying a car you need to know that you will have something you can trust for the years to come. It doesn’t matter if you are first time buyer or an experienced driver, knowing what to choose between buying a new car versus a used car is important, and can potentially save you thousands of pounds.

In this article, we will delve into the decision of buying a car, weighing the pros and cons of new and used cars. By exploring factors such as cost, reliability, and personal preferences, we aim to equip you with the knowledge needed to to make the right decision and how to protect yourself from buying a dud.

Should I buy a new car or a used car?

The answer depends on your situation. If you peace of mind and reliability are more important to you than purchase price, and you plan to hold onto the vehicle for a long time a new vehicle is the way to go. If you are on a budget or prefer to find a bargain then a used car is better, however you should expect higher running costs.

Lets take a closer look.

New Car vs Used Car

New CarUsed Car
ReliabilityGenerally reliableCarries risk
WarrantyTypically 3 years3 months from dealers
Resale ValueLoses value fasterGenerally maintains value
InsuranceGenerally cheaperGenerally more expensive
Fuel EfficiencyGenerally more efficientGenerally less efficient
SafetyGenerally saferMore safety risks
Environmental ImpactBetter for the environmentGenerally worse for the environment
Maintenance CostsRequires less maintenanceRequires more maintenance

As you can see from the table above, newer cars obviously carries a lot more benefits such as reliability, safety, fuel efficiency, requires less maintenance and is better for the environment.

But dont forget the cost of the car is one of the most important factors for a lot people, however that includes the price of the actual vehicle and the cost of running maintaining the vehicle. One area where used cars are significantly better is price and resale value, however new cars generally require less maintenance and are much more fuel efficient making them cheaper to run.

buying new car vs old car - graph showing What do people consider very important when buying a car
What do people consider very important when buying a car

Buying a New Car

If price is not as much of a concern and you place more importance in peace of mind and lower running costs, a new car makes more sense. But a new car does come at a premium.

Benefits of Buying a New Car

  • Fuel Efficiency You would be surprised at how much fuel efficiency has improved over the past decade. Take the ford focus for example, 10 years ago the average model would achieve 30-50 mpg, the newer models are capable of 40-60 mpg and this rises even higher for certain hybrid or electric variants.
  • Maintenance – Regular maintenance tasks like oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections are generally less frequent during the early years of ownership. Additionally, new cars benefit from the latest automotive technology, which often includes advanced diagnostics systems that can detect issues early, making it easier for technicians to address problems before they become major concerns.
  • Warranties – As new cars tend to have warranties, you would not need to worry about any major repair costs whilst you are covered. The typical warranty for a new car lasts three years.
  • Advanced Safety Features – New cars are equipped with the latest safety technologies, including advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and more. These features can help prevent accidents and enhance driver safety. They are also better rated for crashes.
  • Environment Impact – New cars are subject to increasingly stringent emissions standards. They are equipped with modern engine technology, including more efficient combustion and emission control systems, to meet these standards. As a result, new cars tend to produce fewer harmful emissions, contributing to better air quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Drawbacks of Buying a New Car

  • Price – New cars are significantly more expensive than used cars. The average cost of a new car falls between £13,000 -£40,000. This of course depends on the size, performance, features and efficiency of the car.
  • Resale Value – New cars tend to lose around 15-35% of their value in their first year. By the end of the third year you should expect the vehicle to have lost 50-60% of its value. Used cars still lose value with time, but its generally at a much slower rate.
buying a new versus used car - used ford focus

Buying a Used Car

If you have more of a budget or do not need the features of a new car a used car can be a great option. However you should also expect higher running costs and a higher potential for problems, but if you know what to look for you can save thousands.

Benefits of Buying a Used Car

  • Price – One of the most compelling reasons to consider buying a used car is the significantly lower upfront cost compared to a new one. The price range for used cars can be notably more affordable, allowing you to get behind the wheel of a vehicle that might have been out of your budget if purchased new. This financial advantage can free up your resources for other important expenses.
  • Resale Value – Used cars often hold their value better than new cars in terms of depreciation. While new cars can lose around 15-35% of their value in the first year, used cars tend to depreciate at a much slower rate. This means that you’re less likely to experience a sharp drop in your car’s worth over time, which can be beneficial if you plan to sell or trade it in later.

Drawbacks of Buying a Used Car

  • Maintenance – When opting for a used car, you may encounter more frequent maintenance requirements compared to a new vehicle. As cars age, they may require additional attention to keep them running smoothly. It’s essential to budget for potential maintenance and repairs, especially if you’re purchasing an older used car with higher mileage.
  • Warranties – While some used cars may still have part of their original warranty remaining, many used cars are sold without warranty coverage. When buying from a dealership, you might get a limited warranty that covers you for a few months, but if purchasing from a private seller, there may be no warranty at all. This lack of warranty means you’ll be responsible for repair costs.
  • Advanced Safety Features – Older used cars may lack the advanced safety features found in newer models. While new cars come equipped with modern safety technologies like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring, these features may be absent or less advanced in older used cars. It’s important to consider your safety priorities when opting for a used vehicle.
  • Environmental Impact – Used cars, particularly older ones, may not meet the stringent emissions standards and fuel efficiency requirements of newer models. This could result in higher emissions and increased fuel consumption per mile driven. While the environmental impact of a used car varies depending on the specific model and maintenance, it may not be as eco-friendly as a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle.

In summary, buying a used car offers the significant advantages of a lower price tag and potentially better resale value. However, it comes with the drawbacks of potentially higher maintenance costs, limited or no warranties, potentially fewer advanced safety features, and potentially higher environmental impact, especially in older models. Weighing these factors against your budget and preferences will help you make an informed decision.

Other Things to Consider

What About Road Tax?

New cars typically align with the governments climate change policies and therefore pay a reduced rate of tax. However if you consider a used car produced after April 2017 you will still likely pay a reduced rate of tax. Read more about how much road tax should cost you.

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Cars

When considering a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) car, buyers benefit from a unique blend of value and assurance. These vehicles undergo extensive inspections, ensuring they meet manufacturer standards for quality and reliability. Often accompanied by extended warranties, CPO cars offer peace of mind that goes beyond typical used cars. They strike a balance between the lower cost of used cars and the assurance of new ones, making them an attractive option for those seeking a trustworthy, affordable ride.

CPO programs vary by manufacturer, so it’s crucial to research specific brands and dealerships to understand the exact benefits and coverage offered. These programs may include perks like roadside assistance, limited warranties, and vehicle history reports, providing buyers with additional layers of protection. While CPO cars generally come at a slightly higher price than standard used cars, the added peace of mind and warranty coverage can make them a compelling choice for those seeking a reliable, pre-owned vehicle.


New cars typically have lower insurance costs compared to used cars when the value is relatively low. However, as the value of the new car increases, especially for luxury or high-performance vehicles, insurance costs can become more expensive due to the higher replacement cost in the event of damage or theft. So, while new cars often offer lower insurance rates for standard models, it’s essential to consider the specific make and model when assessing insurance expenses.

Used cars, particularly those with a reputation for safety and reliability, often come with more budget-friendly insurance rates. Vehicle age, make, and model play pivotal roles in determining insurance costs. If the vehicle has a higher rate of failure and is deemed more of a risk, you can expect to pay higher premiums.


Making the choice between a new and used car is a significant financial decision that impacts daily life. This decision hinges on factors like cost, reliability, and personal preferences. New cars offer advanced technology, warranties, and enhanced safety features, but they come with a higher price tag and rapid depreciation. In contrast, used cars provide cost savings upfront and often hold their value better, but may require more maintenance and lack the latest safety advancements. In this article, we’ve delved into these aspects to equip buyers with the knowledge needed to make an informed choice between a new or used vehicle.

Additionally, we’ve discussed other key considerations, such as road tax implications, the advantages of Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) cars, and insurance costs. Each factor plays a crucial role in the overall ownership experience, and understanding them helps prospective buyers navigate their car-buying journey more effectively, ensuring the right decision for both their preferences and budget. Ultimately, whether opting for the dependability of a new car or the budget-friendly appeal of a used one, the choice should align with individual needs and priorities, guiding the way to a satisfying and cost-effective driving experience.

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