Decisions, decisions

So tonight I drove a very nicely equipped 2005 Mazda 3.  I talked the dealer down to $17,200.  I really liked the car, even though it has some things I don’t necessarily want (automatic transmission and nav system).

I’ve been looking at numbers.  The same dealer will give me the same car except brand new, for about $20,500.  That’s a $3,300 difference.  Which is a lot, but it’s not as big a difference as I thought there might be.

If I go with the brand new one, here’s what I get for my three grand that I wouldn’t get otherwise:

  • A much better sound system (this is big)
  • Heated seats (I’ve gotten used to having this in my wagon)
  • Automatic climate control
  • Automatic lights
  • Automatic rain-sensing wipers
  • A built-in MP3 player jack
  • Electronic stability control
  • [EDIT] The possibility of getting it in black.

All of the car buying wisdom I’ve ever heard says that buying brand new is for fools with money to burn.

On the other hand, some of that stuff would be kinda nice.  The question is, is it worth the extra ~$70 a month?

(Does anyone know anything about aftermarket car stereo equipment?  I think it might be difficult to upgrade the stereo system in this car because the stereo is totally integrated with the console, there’s no replaceable stereo component the way there is on other cars.  But I don’t really know much about the subject.)

ADDENDUM: My decision is complicated by the fact that I’m making an effort lately not to automatically do the “wise” thing, and to do the “fun” thing instead now and then.  The sensible answer is obvious: pinch pennies!  But if I really wanted to pinch pennies there are much cheaper cars and/or trim levels I could be looking at.  So I’m already allowing the desire for Nice Things to influence my decision.  The question is, where to draw the line?

ADDENDUM 2:  I guess one way to look at it is: assuming a $70 difference in monthly payments, what other nice things could I get if I went the cheaper route?  That’s a new outfit, or a stack of books, every month.  An X-Box in two months.  Stretch it out longer and it becomes an electric guitar, or a new PC.  Used starts to look better and better.

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  1. The minute you drive the new car off the lot it immediately loses most of it’s value. I say go for something used. It may mean more looking but you may just find everything you want and more for less. I know car buying sucks. I hated looking for/at cars. It was very stressful. It also depends on how much you drive/time you spend in the car. How long you intend to keep it.

    I can certainly understand about not wanting to be too senseable and just have fun in terms of treating oneself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Buying a car should be a senseable decision but it can be a “oh…pretty” decision too. Balance is key.

    1. As soon as you drive any vehicle off the lot it immediately loses it’s value. That’s because we’re not in the position of selling it.

      It’s apparent that the value between new and used is less than $3,000 in this case is it not? The used vehicle is priced approx. $3,000 lower and lacks features of the new vehicle.

      This means to me one of two things:

      a) go for the new with more miles left on the vehicle

      b) go for the used, but make sure you get them to drop another $2,000-$3,000 minimum on the used one.

  2. Just curious…

    You didn’t mention a difference in miles between the new and used? And that is probably one of the most significant aspects.

    For instance. We bought nused. It was a new vehicle but had 6,600 miles from use as a demo/executive vehicle. My previous vehicle was bought used with 40,000 on it.

    Everyone always said you’re crazy to buy new. But I’ve noticed that in recent years the difference in cost between new and used is not always all that substantial. The sticker price we paid for our new vehicle with the 6,600 was only a $1,000 than the used Durango we looked at a couple of weeks earlier. Not only did we have like 30,000 less miles. Our vehicle had the V8 Hemi (more power and more fuel efficient), leather interior and many more options. It actually was more economical to buy “new”. Our price was basically $30,000 (but after tax, a 100,000 mile extended warranty, and pipe steps it came out to about $36,000).

    I had looked at some other used vehicles. FORD want $30,000 for a used Expedition with approx. 40K on it. I had been given an offer of $19,000 for a used Tahoe with 60K+.

    I decided to go with the one we went with because it was new (more lifetime under warranty – I have bad luck with vehicles. So I like warranties.) Furthermore, newer vehicles are much more efficient. I’ve actually managed to get as high as 25mpg on the highway driving from York to Maryland. That’s impressive for a giant 7+ passenger SUV. There is no way those older vehicles without the newer engines technologies (ie: variable displacement) would get even close to that mileage.

    So I actually feel better with having gone new. And the heated seats are wonderful… 😉

  3. Does the used one have a comparable warranty? Obviously in this case the new car isn’t losing that much of it’s value, plus it really only matter if you plan to sell it relatively soon. Heated seats are really nice, Of course if you could put in a different sound system, 70 bucks a month would probably go a long way towards that to.

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