Used Cars Pros and Cons

Your Guide to Buying a Used Car

Find out everything you need to know about the pros and cons of buying and owning a used car right here.

Volvo V40 Cross Country

The pros and cons of buying a used car

Buying a car costs money – and a significant amount if it’s brand new. Some people get around this problem by purchasing a used car at a price that is within easier reach of their budget.

For anyone considering this option, there are many great reasons to go used – or ‘pre-loved’ – though there are also some issues to be wary of during the process. To help make your decision easier, and help get you the best car for your needs and budget, we have outlined some factors to consider.

Vehicle Depreciation

Strictly speaking, every car on the road is used. No matter if it has been driving for 20 minutes or 20 years, that ‘new car’ label is effectively ripped off the windscreen the moment someone signs their name on the purchase form. 

This split-second change can end up involving a fair amount of cash. How much? On average, new cars lose 20 per cent of their value the very instant the wheels pull off the lot and onto the road. So, for a $50,000 car, that instantaneous loss in value is about $10,000. Every situation is different, however.
Volvo S60
Volvo XC60
Depreciation numbers are a significant factor for many people who consider resale value and issues of that nature. Others do not mind the cost since it comes with benefits that many used cars do not have: a manufacturer warranty, pristine condition, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your vehicle will have been treated only the way you like it. 

Even with all those benefits, though, paying the extra money for a new car is not a luxury everyone can afford and it deserves attention as a key component of car buyer journeys around Australia.

Condition and maintenance

One concern about buying used cars is that there is no way of knowing how well the previous owner maintained the vehicle. That owner may also have driven the vehicle extra hard – taking every turn like Scott McLaughlin and testing the brakes at every traffic signal. This type of wear and tear may not show on the body or the engine, but can increase maintenance costs in the long run and shorten the lifespan of the vehicle.

Most car dealerships will be aware of this type of issue and try to protect customers (and their own reputation) by giving each vehicle a thorough inspection. Some lots have their own certification program that comes with a warranty and a maintenance plan. Occasional customers are even lucky enough to find a vehicle still covered under the manufacturer warranty.
Luxury Interior Volvo

Ownership costs

Ignoring potential maintenance, a pre-owned car will typically be far cheaper to own. Insurance, registration, taxes and other factors are often more affordable for used cars when comparing the exact same model bought new.
In addition to that “new car smell”, many auto enthusiasts want to buy new to get the exact vehicle they had their sights on. If they do not see the features or colours they want, the dealership can often track down the perfect model from the manufacturer or an affiliate dealer.

People buying used cars will have to choose from what is available. Shopping around can help you find the perfect make and model for your needs, but maybe without some of the options you were hoping for. Your dreams of a shiny red SUV could be dashed when the only models they have are in silver or green.
Then again, because used cars are cheaper, you can afford to upgrade to a vehicle that would otherwise have been beyond your available budget if new. You can spring for a luxury model rather than an economy car, for example, and you just might happen to find a car you want that includes a sunroof for next to no added cost.

In the end, the decision to buy a new car compared to the decision to buy a used car depends on the person. It also depends on the information available on both the potential used car and new car. What are the launch reviews saying about the new car? What can you gather about the maintenance history of the used car?
With all this in mind, there are plenty of positives and negatives about each, and our primary advice is to weigh up all the factors along your car-buying journey. 

Volvo’s Selekt programme offers carefully selected used vehicles which are under five years old and have less than 100,000kms. These vehicles also include 12 months unlimited kilometre factory warranty and Volvo Roadside Assistance.