Buying a new car is always an exciting journey, but it’s just that: a journey. Life is a highway, but you need the right wheels. As a Baby Boomer, you’ve likely already gone through the car-buying process before; however, with new considerations and safety features to manage, it’s important to carefully assess your options before making a final decision. While it can be tempting to buy the shiniest, fastest car on the market, there are a few things you need to consider before making such a big purchase.
About a third of all Baby Boomers intend to buy a vehicle within the next three years. Whether you count yourself among this number or you’ve never bought a car before, it’s important to consider your needs. If you’ll be helping a son or daughter get their first set of wheels, there are some additional considerations to work through.
Think about where the car will be driven, weather conditions, who will be driving it, and how long you need it to last. When you consider these factors, it might make it easier to choose between a new car or a used model. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a few more factors you should pay attention to when buying a car.
The Benefits of Buying Used
While Boomers are substantially more likely to buy new vehicles than Gen X or Gen Y, buying a used vehicle can still be a wise choice. Used vehicles are a great option for first cars or if you’re on a budget. Additional advantages of buying a used vehicle include:
- Lower insurance rates.
- Multiple financing options.
- You can pay cash instead of taking out a loan.
- Many used vehicles are in great shape with low miles.
Someone who buys a new vehicle and sells it, later on, takes the depreciation hit. You can usually get a used car for a great price, even if it’s still relatively new and in excellent condition. The potential drawback of buying a used car is you may not know what you’re getting into. You should always ask for the car history and any accident reports.
If you have a mechanic you trust, get them to do an inspection of the car you’re considering. It might cost you $100 or so, but it will be a lot cheaper than paying for mechanical failures and repairs later on if the car ends up being more of a “lemon” than you anticipated. That’s something to take seriously when you’re considering a used car since mechanical failures are responsible for about 10% to 15% of all car accidents.
Playing It Safe With a New Vehicle
As of 2015, the average cost of a brand new car was over $33,000. The biggest problem with buying a new car is depreciation. It’ll lose value almost instantly, and the value will continue to go down every year. If you ever want to sell it, you’ll end up getting a lot less money back than you originally paid for it.
But there are many benefits to buying a new car if you have the financial means to do so.
One of the biggest benefits is safety. Car safety features are advancing every year. As of today, you can buy new cars with features like adaptive cruise control that help to keep you at a safe distance from the car in front of you. Some cars even have automatic emergency braking to help you avoid rear-ending someone. These features can be extremely helpful for those intending to buy a vehicle for use as you move into your golden years.
There are typically a lot of bells and whistles to get excited about when purchasing a new car, too. Many of them are due to advancements in technology. If you’re considering the car for a teenager, you can even find some models with new driver technology that will issue a report card on that individual’s driving. It also encourages things like seatbelt use.
When they are properly taken care of, new cars are often a safer bet than buying used. But falling under a mountain of debt just for a new car is hardly ever worth it. Carefully assess your budget and spend accordingly.
Taking the Driver Into Consideration
Finally, when you’re considering buying either a new or used car, you should look for something that fits your needs (or whoever will be driving it). If you want to spend your retirement adventuring on the road, a new car might be your best option — especially if you have some money saved up. You might also be able to get lower insurance rates based on your age and driving record.
As noted above, remember that safety features can be important, depending on the needs of the driver. There are many impacts that aging can have on an individual’s driving capabilities. For instance, eyesight can start to decrease as people become older. Cars with technology to brake automatically, merge lanes safely, or keep a safe distance behind others can be beneficial for older drivers who may have some vision issues.
If your purchase is for yourself, think about your own lifestyle when you’re deciding on a make and model. Do you commute to work each day? If you’re working a lot and not getting a restful night’s sleep, you might want to consider a car with built-in safety features that will help to keep you alert. Some vehicles that can let you know if you’re drifting off the road. Obviously, no one wants to be in that position, but it’s better to have a car that alerts you of such things rather than ending up in a ditch.
Do you live in an area that sometimes deals with wintery weather conditions? If so, you’ll want something reliable to combat the snow or something that has features like four-wheel drive. Wintertime safety is hugely important when you’re behind the wheel.
From safety features to technology, and from budgets to your own personal needs, there is no ideal way to buy a car. Look for something that will fit your lifestyle — something that will last as long as you need it. Stay within your financial means, and you’ll undoubtedly be satisfied with your car purchase.
Are you thinking about buying a new car? What type of car would you love to drive? Please leave a comment below.