Should I buy a new or second hand car?

Lesson Type
Last updated: 14 Nov 2019

Shopping for your first car is possibly the most exciting part of the whole learning to drive process. Your very first proper vehicle, no matter what it is, represents freedom and, for younger drivers, the start of adult life. Obviously you’re going to want the best car possible, but is it worth forking out thousands of pounds on a brand-new car when there are so many perfectly good second hand models for sale?

The appeal of a shiny, brand-new car (complete with that amazing new car smell) is massive, but did you know that your beautiful brand-new car will lose 40% of its value before its first birthday? Or what about that unpleasant fact that you’re more likely to be involved in a car accident in the first year after passing your test than at any other time in you life?

We’ve put together a pros and cons list comparing the merits of an older car or a brand new one for your first ever vehicle.

Pros of new cars as first cars

  • Freedom to choose the exact specification you want
  • No MOT to worry about for three years.
  • Reliability.
  • Warranty.
  • Attractive finance deals.
  • New car smell.

Cons of new cars as first cars

  • Expensive to buy.
  • High chance of bumping or scraping it in your first year of driving.
  • Potentially higher insurance costs.
  • You might love your 1.0 litre Fiesta now, but will you want a bigger engine before you’ve finished paying for it?

Pros of used cars as first cars

  • Massive choice allows you to get very close to your desired specifications.
  • Cheaper.
  • Warranties available if bought from dealer approved used car salespeople.
  • Far wider choice of styles to pick from.
  • Older cars and the bangers which make traditional first cars are full of character.
  • Potentially lower repair costs (in case of the bumps and scrapes mentioned earlier).

Cons of used cars as first cars

  • Potentially less reliable, depending on age and model.
  • MOT and servicing costs.
  • No warranty if bought privately.
  • Uncertain history.
  • Condition won’t compare to brand-new models.

Really, it’s up to you if you want a new car or a used one. However, no matter how good you were during your driving lessons, you’re more likely to be involved in an accident in your first year of driving than at any other time. Imagine how you’d feel seeing your beautiful new car with a scratch or dent in it. With that in mind, you may want to have a look at our top 5 affordable cars for young drivers.