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Buying a 4WD is one of the biggest purchases you could ever make in your life, alongside trying to buy your own house.
So, even though you may buy several vehicles in your lifetime, it’s crucial that you get it right, otherwise you may be in for a world of stress.
Should you buy new or used? Well, your chosen approach hinges on numerous factors and may change depending on the market, your circumstances, or even your stage of life.
Which is best for you – new or used? That’s what we’ll tackle in this yarn – and along the way, I’ll smash a few vehicle-buying myths.
There are plenty of positives about buying a new 4WD.
For one, chances are you can strut into a dealership showroom, pick a car and that’ll be yours. There’s only pesky stuff to sort out like what spec level, colour, wheel type etcetera, if you get the urge.
If you want to, you can even organise financing on the spot at the place of purchase.
And a new car has next to no kilometres on the odometer – well, you’d hope – and it’s fresh as. There’s nothing like new-car smell, right? And being the first person to own and drive a car that will become your daily driver?
When you buy a new vehicle, you’re likely buying up-to-date emissions and fuel-consumption technology as well as driver-assist and onboard smartphone connectivity, media and navigation tech, as well as a level of build quality that you’d hope is the very best possible.
No, it isn’t because there are several downsides to buying new.
Your upfront costs may be astronomical and, unless you sleep on a bed made entirely of $100 notes, you’ll be paying off your shiny new 4WD for many years to come. Take a moment and wrap your brain around that notion.
Also, a new vehicle is a depreciating asset – the value usually goes down over time – so as soon as you buy it, it’s losing value. Yep, depressing. Well, that’s the theory anyway – in crazy Covid/post-Covid times, some vehicles have actually held, even increased, their value. But generally vehicles depreciate in value.
Order books for many of the most wanted vehicles are full to bursting and wait times before buyers actually receive the vehicles have blown out to the year 2070. Only joking – or am I? So, if you’re buying new, you’ll have to be supremely patient.
If you’re not patient, you might choose to settle for something that’s actually not your first, second or third choice – just to get in a new vehicle.
Buying a used 4WD is a great option if you’re not in the position at the moment to be able to spend as much as you would if you were buying new. Upfront costs when buying used are nowhere near as much as if you were buying new.
You won’t have to wait ages for the vehicle you want to be available because, on the second-hand market, pretty much any vehicle you could ever wish for is for sale. Lada Niva, anyone?
You won’t have to put up with a potentially smarmy car dealer’s pushy tactics because you’re going private, and hopefully that will end up being a mutually satisfactory exchange between buyer and seller.
However, there are myriad things to look out for when buying a used 4WD.
If the used 4WD in question has received a substantial aftermarket treatment – think bullbar, winch, suspension, mud tyres etc. – then, beware, because it has likely been driven energetically (read: thrashed) off-road.
If your potential secondhand 4WD purchase is plastered with bawdy stickers (you know the ones I mean), then chances are a red P-plater has been thrashing the 4WD off-road at some stage. Don’t even waste time looking at it.
Check the 4WD thoroughly for rust just in case ol’ mate has been driving his 4WD through water, including shallow waves along the beach, and not bothering to clean everything off afterwards.
Sure, the process of buying anything used has inherent risks, but if you do exhaustive research (that’s most of the fun, isn’t it?), get the vehicle scrutinised by a mechanic, and confirm servicing details, owner credentials and vehicle-specific information (VIN etc.), then you’re on the right track.
Buying used is fraught with potential strife, but you’re not buying someone else’s problems. There are documented and anecdotal instances of people buying absolute ‘bombs’, but thankfully those are infrequent rather than happening all the time.
Remember: buyer beware.
Sure, a second-hand 4WD will have quirks and character and some (all?) of its safety tech could be out of date, but if it was a good bargain, it runs well and you love it, then that’s a good news yarn right there.
There are positives and negatives to buying new and buying used and either way will better suit you at different stages of your life.
There are risks and rewards attached to both approaches.
The same rules apply to both methods, though: undertake thorough research, take your time and have fun.
This is a big purchase, so enjoy the process.