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General Car Buying Tips

CarWale Team , 17-May-2008

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Is the car you're looking to buy suitable for your needs? It may sound like a simple question - but it is so easy to be distracted by impractical cars when you're looking for a new car. Prioritise your needs. Is it space or speed? Looks or practicality? There's no point buying a sports coupe if you want to transport a family of four. Likewise, why buy a big clumsy off-roader if you're a city dweller? Why consider mileage as top priority if you travel less than 10km a day? Petrol or diesel? To answer these questions, and make your buying and selling experience as easy as possible - read on - we've compiled the guide that should provide the answers to all your questions.

New or Used

  • Nothing beats the smell of a new car, the thrill of driving away in a car that is yours, one that's never been owned by anyone else, but it comes at a price, namely, depreciation. You can virtually write off 20 per cent of the purchase price the moment you drive away from the dealer because it is then a used car. Cars depreciate faster in the first two or three years of their life and the new car buyer has to bear that for the pleasure of being the first owner. By buying used it is possible to avoid the heaviest depreciation. Cars will still depreciate in the years that follow, but at a slower rate. New car buyers can choose the engine, transmission, the colour of the paint and the interior trim, and accessories, but used car buyers have to take what's available.
  • New car buyers have the reassuring backup of a new car warranty so they know that if anything goes wrong they won't have to suffer the consequences of a big repair bill. Anyone buying from a used car dealer will also have a warranty, but it won't be for the same duration as a new car warranty. Private buyers don't have a warranty at all.
  • By buying used it is possible to get behind the wheel of a better car than you might when buying new. For the cost of a new Zen or Indica it is possible to purchase a used City or Scorpio.
  • There is always the risk of buying a 'lemon' when buying used because there is no way of knowing how previous owners have treated a car.

Petrol or Diesel

Both petrol and diesel engines have their advantages and disadvantages. The gap is narrowing day by day so you can choose either on the basis of your needs.

Diesel engines used to be slow and noisy, but the latest diesel engines are as refined as petrol ones. Now diesel engines are fitted in a number of high-performance models also. Diesel engines emit less carbon dioxide, so they are better in terms of pollution. However, diesel engines tend to pump out more particulates, which are associated with smog formation, respiratory and cardio-vascular illness. Increasingly, diesel engines are being fitted with particulate filters, but this is by no means widespread at the moment.

Petrol engines are getting cleaner and more economical, too. Direct-injection technology now features in a number of models. Performance-minded drivers still tend to opt for petrol cars, though many diesels can accelerate faster than petrol equivalents at speeds from 50-80kph - a more useful advantage in everyday driving.than a quick 0-60 standing-start time. The prices of new diesel cars are usually slightly higher than for similarly-specified petrol models, but they have better resale value.

Diesel is only three quarters the price of petrol and is therefore easy on the pocket. Diesels also travel further on a litre of fuel compared to their petrol counterparts. However, bear in mind that a diesel car makes financial sense only if your annual mileage is more than 13,000-15,000km. If your annual mileage will be less than that, opt blindly for a petrol. If your usage is less than 12,000km annually never think diesel.

Now, if you have made up your mind to buy new or used car, we strongly recommend you read's New car buying tips and Used car buying tips before taking any further decisions.


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