/ Motoring

Why I will never buy a new car

As soon as a new car rolls off the forecourt it’s already losing value rapidly, so getting the best price is key. But for the best value, I’ll only ever buy a used or nearly new car.

When you’re looking to replace your car, what do you do? Do you head to a main dealer showroom and pay top dollar? Or do you find a private seller or a small garage with a nearly new car, haggle hard and save yourself thousands on a barely run in motor?

Though brand new cars may have that ‘new car smell’ and only a handful of miles on the clock, you really do pay through the nose for the privilege. Especially if you head to a main dealer and pay the list price.

You can find big savings on new and used cars

We’ve already seen how Which? Car’s Rob Hull saved Sue £3,000 on a brand new car, and every week we fish out hot car deals to give you 20-30% discounts. But if you’re happy with a nearly new car with maybe 5,000 or 10,000 miles under its tyres, you can save much more than that.

Last year I helped my mum buy a one-year-old Skoda Octavia vRS diesel which had covered just 10,000 miles. Despite having two years of warranty remaining, immaculate bodywork and a pair of new tyres, my mum paid around £8,000 less than a new model would have cost. And this was from a Skoda main dealer. Head to a smaller garage and prices should be lower still.

After a year of stress-free motoring and just one puncture to its name, the car has been a model of reliability. So why would you buy a new car, unless price is really not a concern?

Buy used for even bigger savings

I’ve just taken things a step further by buying an 11-year-old car this week with 75,000 miles on the clock – all for half the price of the UK’s cheapest car.

Sure, car tax, fuel bills and maintenance costs will be much higher than for a new car, but with very little depreciation to contend with and a thorough service history, I can now run a premium car on a shoestring.

Many of you may not want to take the plunge with an 11-year-old motor, but would you consider buying a nearly new car rather than a brand new model? And if you wouldn’t plump for a nearly new model, would you head for an online broker for the best price on a new car?

Tricia_TD says:
25 February 2014

Nearly new is best, as you don’t pay the VAT that you do on a brand new car.

Don’t be silly. Of course you pay the vat, or at least a proportion of it. If you buy a used car for half its new price, you’re paying half the vat!

Andy teal says:
17 December 2016

If you are paying VAT and in business you will need the vendors vat number.
If you are buying off a vendor who is not vat registered pay no vat simply maths. . 😃

Likewise for me too. I usually look for a main dealer, ex-demo about 6 months old with about 5k on the clock. These have usually be well looked after, are mainly used by a staff member (one of the sales team) and are kept pristine.

I agree with Chris that second hand cars are better value in most cases. There is an alternative approach that also works and that is buy a new one and keep it until it’s scrap. This works With cars that last. In my case a Volvo now 14 years old 145k miles. I am aiming for 200k then the capital cost is spread. Get it serviced at your local independent garage and keep maintenance costs lower while still maintaining the car.

Like Blair Breton, I rather prefer the option of buying from new and running the car into the ground. My last car (Astra) ran 110,000 miles over 11 years and I parted with it when it became too expensive to service/repair. The purchase price worked out at about £1000 a year. That might be more expensive than a nearly new car, but is a price I’m happy to pay for the warranty included, a lifetime warranty on my current car (or 100,000 miles).

Jeff Evans says:
28 February 2014

I fully agree with Richard. And before buying any 2nd hand car, do your homework!

My current car was bought new, from a main dealer, but with various discounts it actually worked out £1000 cheaper than a 1 year old model. They then gave me “scrappage” of £1000 on my old car which had done 225,000 miles. So I got the factory fitted extras I wanted AND saved money; some of these work out cheaper than after-market fittings for the same price, and the long, long warranty is an excellent bonus.
An example of savings when buying new: Factory fit detachable towbar £305: After market £525. Full size spare wheel, tools and jack in place of a useless sealant kit: £87 which is £35 less than the price of a new tyre.
I’ve just ordered a new car for my wife. Similar deal to that one above. Works out the same price as one almost a year old with 5,000 on the clock.

One of my big bugbears with 2nd hand cars is that many have been driven badly. I used to work in Macclesfield and you could smell the clutches on Hibel Road (quite steep) when the traffic lights were red and about 10% of drivers slipped the clutch moving slightly backwards and forwards instead of using the handbrake (too much roll-back when taking off if held on the footbrake). I don’t want to buy any car that has been abused.
Just make sure to do your homework (again) as used is not necessarily better!!!!!

Apart from two cars I bought from my father, I have always purchased new cars to avoid the possibility that the previous owner has slipped the clutch or otherwise abused the vehicle. I have kept my cars for up to ten years so depreciation is not a big issue.

I have considered buying a demonstrator car but have been put off by tales that sales reps sometimes abuse new vehicles even if they keep them clean and polished. I am not sure if this is true or just a myth.

When I last changed my car I paid a deposit on a pre-registered but unused car that was on offer at a good discount price. I thought I had achieved good value for money without any haggling until the dealer phoned to say that he was terribly sorry but a colleague had sold my car. 🙁

SRM says:
17 March 2014

Jeff , which car allows option of full size spare wheel plus kit ?

Jeff Evans says:
17 March 2014

I think that you’ll find that almost all of them offer either a space-saver or a full size one.

However, if the car that you choose doesn’t have it as an option, provided there is space for one, then you could buy a wheel (with tyre) a jack and a wheel brace (or even a cheap socket set). That’s what my son-in-law has done.

I don’t really see that your choice of car should be dictated by whether it has a spare wheel. After all, punctures are less frequent nowadays compared to when we drove on crossply tyres. It’s just that for me, the option was there and it made very good sense to choose it at the price.

Jeff – According to Which? less than 30% of new cars came with a spare wheel in May 2013.

Having had many punctures despite covering a modest annual mileage, the first thing I told the salesman was that I would not consider any car without a spare wheel.

Jeff Evans says:
19 March 2014

Yes, I know that few cars now come with a spare wheel as standard.

But for both my current cars it was a very reasonably priced optional extra. Less than the price of a tyre alone.

You may as well refuse to buy a car if they charge extra for the metallic paint that you like the look of.

I go for dealers that take part-ex’s from main dealers. Yes they are average miles for the year but this doesn’t matter if you buy the right brand and it has full service history.

Last year I bought a BMW 2007 123d Msport in black with loads of extras for 9.5k with 80000 on the clock.

Many people would run at that mileage accumulation but the service book was immaculate, serviced every year regardless of miles, all verified by the main dealer who did it. Plus average for the age and nothing for a diesel

Since then I have put 12,000 miles on the clock and the only things I’ve needed to replace are consumable items. I serviced it when I bought it, put new brakes/pads on all round, recently new rear tyres and that’s all.

It is a model of reliability, driving excellence, economy, comfort (despite the massive wheels) and performance.

Jeff Evans says:
28 February 2014

I hope that your BMW isn’t one of those that needs a new timing chain at 100,00 miles. It is an expensive job, and prohibitively so to repair the engine if the chain snaps in use.

It’s cheaper, in the long run, to buy a new car and keep it, say, six years, than buy a three-year-old one and change it every three years. Buying new (at a substantial discount through a broker) will get you the latest technology and hence savings on fuel and road tax, almost certainly a higher spec, a 3-year (or more) warranty, new tyres and other consumables, the chance to buy a bargain up-front servicing package, and so on. And then there’s the pleasure of owning a brand-new car.

Dealer cars will have been driven by many people and usually come with the scuffs and so on that result from being driven by someone who doesn’t own it or care too much.It will probably have been driven hard from new instead of being gently ‘run in’.

For the second time, I’m about to order a new BMW through Drive the Deal @ 15% discount. It will come from a BMW main dealer, be trailered to my door with a full tank of fuel, and cost less than the pre-registered and ex-demo cars I’ve been offered by my local dealer. Last time, when I knew which dealer was supplying, I was able to persuade them to throw in mats, mud flaps and a glovebox torch, despite the discount I was receiving.

If you’re thinking of buying a ‘bargain’ one-year-old car, be sure you know exactly why it’s being sold so young!

Margaret says:
3 March 2014

My car is nearly 10 years old. I bought it new for less than the same car 1 year old but mine is a higher spec. It has never broken down. I had 3 years peace of mind with the warranty. It paid for itself years ago. Thorough research is the clue to getting the best deal in a vehicle along with haggling until you know the dealer doesn’t like you anymore :O). It’s really the only way with an item that is way over-priced to begin with and just a new pile of scrap. Drive safely :O)

NukeThemAll says:
9 March 2014

There’s often good, logical reasons to buy new: firstly, if you want particular options (which may be very important for you) finding these on a used car can be damn near impossible. Secondly, I’ve found dealers, especially when faced with internet broker quotes and my intransigence, willing to do good deals on new cars, but they seem to be very, very reluctant to do sensible deals on used vehicles. So do your sums very carefully, because new cars often come with servicing deals, breakdown cover etc and these are real things that you’d otherwise have to buy. My last new car was about £500 cheaper than a year-old used (non-ideal spec) vehicle even allowing for some discount. And I got a car which hasn’t been abused or pre-crashed****

***Someone I know bought a year-old car from a car supermarket, after a few months it needed new tyres and he had the tracking checked. It’s on the ramp, tyre fitter calls him over, points out the ‘misalignment’ of the underneath which explained its slightly wayward handling – yep, it had received a rear-end shunt and had been shoddily repaired. What happened next? That’s another story……

Jeff Evans says:
9 March 2014

Got a call from the dealer yesterday. New car has just arrived.
Checked prices again, and it works out about £800 more than a similar model a year old with 10,000 miles on it. And the same price as a few month old car with 2,000 miles, but without the £1,000 of factory fitted extras that I’m getting.

BUT also this is a brand new model of the same car which has just come out. On this model the CO2 emissions are 99grams whereas last years model (with 10 bhp less) falls into VED band D. So straight away I’m saving £105 per year on VED.
The claimed fuel economy of 76 mpg may not be reached, but that compares to a claimed 56 mpg on the previous model, and I estimate I will get about £300 per year saving on fuel. So it will work out much cheaper over the next 8 to 10 years that I expect to keep the car.
And I know that the car is fresh as I ordered the exact spec built to order and it hasn’t been abused or crashed.
Allied to a vastly improved spec and it makes no sense for me to buy a used car.

Before you collect your new car, check that it has a spare wheel, jack and spanner for the wheel bolts.

I inspected my neighbour’s new car this morning and although he has paid £95 extra for a space-saver apology for a spare wheel, the dealer did not include the tools.

Apologies if this is already taken care of, Jeff. Many don’t realise that tyre sealant cannot be relied on in the event of a puncture. My neighbour found this out with his previous car.

Jeff Evans says:
10 March 2014

Thanks for the comment, Wavechange! I too am always wary of this sort of thing.

Went first thing today to do the paperwork etc. ready to pick it up tomorrow.
And yes, I checked the boot and all the right stuff is there. Made sure the towbar was folding properly, and the 2 other options were also there. Also noted that it has Michelin tyres fitted. I regard these as the best – my other car has Micheln Energy Savers that have so far lasted 44,000 miles on the front with 2.5mm left; (rears still have 5.5mm), and my caravan had a blowout on the cheap Chinese tyres that the manufacturer had supplied it with, and that has had Michelin Agilis tyres on for 9 months which have also made it more stable in winds or when being passed by coaches.

I’ve long been impressed by the life of Michelin tyres, Jeff. Your impressive figures suggest that that driving style might also be a factor. 🙂

Jeff Evans says:
10 March 2014

Yes I drive with sympathy for the car.
But I don’t drive slowly. Always at the speed limit (unless it’s unsafe), and also try to keep my speed up round corners, but without scrubbing the tyres (and NEVER brake in a corner or turn the steering too quickly – rather ease it in maintaining the momentum of the car.)
A high speed driving course at Donington helped me greatly in learning this technique.
When I worked 38 miles from home I used to love being closely followed at 60, the speed limit, and then losing the following car when I went round corners that they couldn’t manage at my speeds. Even better when it was someone in a flash car who had been trying to push me to go faster in the 60 bit. My car is a very boring 7 seater without a lot of power.

Also drive with sympathy for the Dual Mass Flywheel that diesel cars have. Violent dropping of the clutch can seriously damage the DMF (as well as the clutch).
My current car (which we are keeping for at least another 4 years) is credited with 47.1 mpg combined. I have kept a spreadsheet since the car was new (6 years) and it has averaged 48.4. So I’m hoping that the new one will achieve its claimed 76 mpg combined.

NukeThemAll says:
14 March 2014

Jeff, I drive in much the same manner. Thus given where I drive (not that much in towns) I can always match or even exceed the manufacturer’s quoted combined fuel consumption. Thus it’s easy to ‘do the sums’ and work out the likely cost saving if buying a newer, more fuel-efficient car.

In contrast, a colleague often complains about his mpg. I had a (mercifully brief) ride with him, and I’m not surprised at his car’s apparent thirst – full acceleration and hard braking from traffic light to traffic light, zero anticipation, excessive speed (you all get the picture). He’s only avoided speeding fines because where we live there is virtually no Police presence on the roads and the speed cameras are fixed and obvious (yes, he emergency brakes for those of course!)

I have recently purchased a Citroen C3 Picasso HDi over £3,400 less that dealer prices. I was not charged for colour,£600, got Citroen mats, valeting kit, emergency kit (first aid box, fire extinguisher, hi-vis vests, torch), warning triangle all thrown in for free. I got a very good trade in price for my old. The car was delivered to my house and the old C3 taken away.

I purchased the new car through the CSMA as I am a member. It is worth checking if any organisation that you belong to can offer such a good deal, which I have never had from any garage.

Jeff Evans says:
23 March 2014

CSMA does have some good pices, but I checked the price of my new car on CSMA/LLoydsTSB and there was very little saving. I negotiated a much better discount.

But also watch out. One of the cars I looked at was actually dearer than list price via CSMA. I can’t remember which one and currently the carselect website is down so I can’t backtrack to find out.

Well, whilst I agree that a near new car is much better value, don’t go on about it too much or everyone will buy them and no one will buy new. End result no near new cars to buy.

Jeff Evans says:
3 April 2014

I don’t agree at all. Nearly new cars are not necessarily good value.
With a 2nd hand car you’ll struggle to get 100,000 mile warranty, £3,000 discount, the latest ecomony tweaks which manufacturers do to reduce the emissions (and therefore the road fund licence and taxation costs to company car drivers) and you might not get exactly which features and extras you want. Add on to that the fact that you don’t know if has had some intermittent problems that haven’t been fixed, or if it has been abused or even crashed and repaired, then I’d rather not bother.
There must be a reason that someone sells a nearly new car. Maybe a company employee leaves and their company car is surplus to requirements, but even then, the companies that I worked for shuffled the cars around when this happened so that they would minimise losses on the now nearly new car.
You need to be very careful with nearly new cars.

As someone who is concerned about the history of a secondhand car, I can relate to these concerns, but you will save rather more than £3000 by not buying new. That first journey from the showroom wipes a great deal off the price of a new car. Also, the price of new cars is inflated because those that sell them know that people want discounts, so you are not really getting a huge discount.

I used to assume that there must be something wrong with cars for people to replace them. Many replace new (and used) cars that are working fine. But I agree that you have to be careful buying anything secondhand.

It depends on your use of a vehicle. When I did a high annual mileage (25,000 a year), I bought new diesel estates and ran them until the annual repair costs exceeded the cost of leasing a similar model. This was usually around 180,000 miles. At this mileage, usually they required a massive suspension replacement, and the car was worth about £500. During the 180,000 miles, the vehicles rarely needed any repairs except for “wearing and perishable parts” Hoses, belts, CVD gaiters etc. Apart from that over 20 odd years there was a water pump, a rear screen wiper motor, a repaired radiator and a flasher unit.
On one occasion, I got what I thought was a good deal on a 9 month old demo vehicle, with about 10,000 miles. I had to claim a new clutch under warranty and at 110,000 miles, it needed a new cylinder head gasket (very expensive). Basically, you don’t know what sort of idiot has been driving a second hand car; it could have been over-rev’d, the gear box and clutch misused etc.
For high mileage, Buy new, run until it is uneconomical is the cheapest overall policy. For low mileage a nearly new can be very economical.

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John says:
1 March 2015

I used to own a 2007 Fiesta 1.25 Studio which was listed at £8500, i got the car for £7000, but about 5years and 20000miles into ownership i discovered why, lost power on a hill, then the gearbox started to play up.

In August 2014 i bought a May 2014 (used) Kia Picanto 1.25 3 with 1262miles, it was £10250, but cost the 1st owner £13545, i went in for a Kia Rio 1.4 2 with 9000miles for £10500,

but in May 2016 i will be selling the Picanto what my grandkids call Picky or Pixel, i love the picanto because it is so roomy in the cabin, and it has the 2extra doors my Fiesta did not have

Yet the little Fiesta is still running for my daughter and with no faults,

will smith says:
26 March 2015

new is good because you don’t have pay the VAT that you do on a brand new car. and same thing for sell my car.

avalon111 says:
11 April 2015

I came extraordinarily close to buying a brand new car only a few weeks ago. I even got an insurance quote and measured the width of my gates.

Then for some reason I went and double-checked the spec against my old Ford Focus and realised that my old car had a lot of features the proposed new one was missing (the most notable being the heated front windscreen which is essential in Britain throughout the autumn and winter). I could get that feature, and lots of things I didn’t want or need, by coughing-up for a higher model (+£3k) but that took it well out of my budget.

Also missing was the lumber support, the electric seat height adjustment, the 12v socket in the boot, the securing posts in the boot, a full-size spare wheel, front and rear mudflaps…

One problem is that ten-fifteen years ago, British cars had a ‘British specification’ which was always higher than a ‘Euro specification’. Folk who thought they were buying a bargain when they imported from say Germany would soon stop bragging when they realised what was missing. In time the manufacturers have reconciled such inconsistencies and it’s the British motorist who has suffered.

So for the moment, though the Ford costs a bit in road tax, though I might not have a ‘Bluetooth interface’ on mine, I do get moving far quicker than my neighbors do on a cold morning!

Even if I won the lottery (Fat chance as I don’t do it!) I would never buy a brand new car. Two years ago I purchased a Mazda 6 which was four months old with under 5,000 miles on the clock. The car was that of the main dealers manager. Price new £24k I paid £19k. Best car I have ever owned. Best saving I have ever made.

No-one seems to have mentioned the spectacular value gained in buying older cars?
I bought a 2000 Honda HR-V in 2014 for £650, ran it for 50K miles and sold it with 175K miles on the clock 2 years later for £250. It cost me nothing in repairs, just usual servicing, brake pads and tyres.
I’m now on my second HR-V, a 2005 model which had similar miles – 128K – on the clock when I bought it 10 months ago. I’ve since put another 20K onto it with just servicing, tyres, brake discs & pads, and a battery.
If you are careful about who you’re buying from, the type of car you buy, and you treat it well, buying cars 10 years or older can be seriously cheap motoring. Oh and if one of them suffers an expensive problem you can simply sell it on for spares and buy another!
Paying out £20,000+ for a new car? You must be nuts!

I was quoted £12000 trade in from the Skoda dealer that I purchased it from 2year’s earlier at a cost of 25k against a manager’s special with a higher spec .which had done 1500 miles and was 18months old but I found that I could sell mine for £13600 and buy a new Skoda with the same spec cheaper on line .My message is if you must buy a new car, buy on line, it will be at least £1500 cheaper with the only difference a bunch of flowers and a cup of coffee.