Pre-owned versus new: what is the right car for you?

October 19, 2018

So, the time has come for you to look for a car. You have spent too many hours in your current one and need a change, but are not sure whether to buy a pre-owned or a new car. You might think that a new car gives you more options or you have had your eye on a zippy little convertible.

You might prefer the reliability of pre-owned vehicles because there is the guarantee that they have been maintained and cared for. If you are not sure, however, which is the best option for you, you can read on below for some advice on how to choose the best option for your needs.


It is important not to compare apples with oranges, meaning that a ten-year-old car is not the same as a one-year-old car in terms of comparability. A car with 200 000 km will not perform at the same level as a car with only 60 000 km on the clock, it is simple mathematics.

But a one-year-old car that has been well looked after by its previous owners might be more reliable than a brand new car fresh off of the lot. Any problems with a new car are usually experienced within the first few months, but, if you are buying one of the many pre-owned vehicles available from dealers, these issues will already have been worked out. While you might be looking for that “new car smell”, you are also going to have to put up with the new car problems.


One important factor to consider when buying cars is the depreciation rate of new and used cars. Both will experience some depreciation but it will be at different rates. For example, a new car which is priced at R200 000 in 2018 will cost you R160 000 in 2019. That is a depreciation rate of 20 percent over just one year.

Of course, a car will continue to depreciate after this but it will be in much lower increments, such as 14 percent after two years and seven percent after three years. Pre-owned vehicles are considered to be “like new”, but they will not experience the same rate of depreciation as a new car. That being said, a new car is not without its merits. You will likely not have to check it for any signs of damage, repairs or replacements before buying it.

Extra costs

Now, this could be the dividing factor of choosing a new or a used car. Used cars might seem cheaper at the outset, but you might have to take them in for repairs sooner than expected, which is an extra cost that can add up fast.

On the other hand, new cars come with their own set of extra costs. These costs include insurance, service plans, warranties and “on-the-road” charges. Once you have added all of these up, your car will end up costing you more than what you originally calculated. You will also need to take into account the carbon tax, which can be up to R75 for every gram per kilometre (g/km) of carbon monoxide over the threshold of 120 g/km.

Consider the condition

The condition of your car is important, as you will be using it on a daily basis to get you from point A to point B. A new car is likely to be able to do this without a hitch, as will certified pre-owned vehicles. But a used car might have a few issues with its condition that could be cause for concern.

There is no wear and tear on a new car, but that does not mean that every used car is in poor condition. You will find that many searches of “certified car dealerships near me” will bring up pre-owned vehicles in prime condition, even if they have been used for three years or more. The condition of the car is relative because if you find a new car with seat covers you do not like, you will likely not buy it. You will need to be sure to do a full inspection of any car you want to buy in order to ascertain any damages it might have.

Drive off in the perfect wheels

Choosing a car is not an easy decision. You have to consider every aspect, such as what the car will be used for, who will be driving it and (most importantly) what your budget is. Some aspects you will need to examine include the reliability, the rate of depreciation, the condition of the car and the extra costs associated with the vehicle you choose.

If you have a lower budget, then a used car might be the best option to choose. However, new cars do bring with them some benefits, such as lower maintenance costs, full warranties and more personalisation options. Whatever you choose, be sure to do your research beforehand to find the perfect wheels to suit your world.


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