I'm a new driver – should I go for a used or brand new car?

Updated Mar 30, 2021 | Same topic: Best Advice for Car Buyers

Hold up new driver’s license holders, read this first before buying your first car.

Picture this in your head: you just finished up driving school a couple of months ago. On top of that, your Land Transportation issued driver’s license is a week old and still gleaming fresh. This qualifies you as a new driver. This makes you confident, happy, and thrilled due to the new possibilities that your driving skills can open up for you.

Several months later, you take a peek at your bank account. You then realize that you can now buy your first car.

But wait, you’re still a young novice driver and you know nothing about cars at all. So now you’re wondering; which is better for a new driver? A shiny, brand new car? Or a used vehicle?

A picture of a young man in a driving school

If you're a young person who went to driving school, please try to remember what they taught you

Pros of a brand new car for a new driver

Regardless of whether you’re a new driver or not, buying a brand new car can present a lot of advantages.

First, brand new cars come with a warranty. If, God forbid, something goes wrong with it, the dealership where you got the car can offer to replace the problematic part with no costs on your part.

Second, most brand new cars are the latest models of their respective nameplates. Take for example the Toyota Corolla Altis. It’s an old name in the car world, but the latest one has impressive interior quality, fuel economy, and there’s even a hybrid version.

Filipino driver

Buying a brand new car can present a lot of advantages

And of course, most brand new cars regardless of brand will tend to come with a guarantee of reliability….well, if you maintain it properly, that is. This brings us to our third point; a brand new car will teach a new driver/car owner basic car maintenance without being too overwhelming.

This is because breaking in a new car will have to involve shorter PMS intervals, which are of course opportunities to observe and learn. There you’ll learn how to drain the oil, check the tires, etc.

Sure, those are covered in the car’s manual, but seeing it for yourself is simply better. And let’s face it, some middle-aged adults who are new to driving (yes, those exist) will have a hard time bending over and moving around to learn how to fix a car.

A picture of a man fixing his VW Beetle

Moving around the car to get to tools and hard to get to spots is exhausting

And lastly, a new car will tend to have the latest updates when it comes to safety features. We’re not just talking about active safety technology, but also the way the crumple zones, the chassis, and the body of the car are constructed.

This is because when a car maker finishes a particular model and moves it to production, it doesn’t exactly mean that they’ll stop research and development for a car.

This makes new cars ideal for worrywart parents to give to their kids as a new young drivers. Sure, not all young people are reckless and irresponsible, but a good majority of them are especially when driving is concerned.

A picture of a young woman putting on makeup while driving

Young adults are most susceptible to distractions when driving

>>> Related: 3 Best cars for new drivers in the Philippines for 2020

New drivers: Disadvantages of buying a new car

Note though that there are disadvantages to buying a new car especially for a new driver and/or inexperienced car owner.

Being a new driver, you might get anxious about scratching up your car. It is, after all, a product of your hard work. Not that you’ll be better off in this regard with a used car, but if it was a used, banged up but still reliable beater, then you might feel more confident in using it every day to practice driving more. 

There’s also the point that brand new cars will tend to depreciate more than used cars. In fact, once you drive off the dealership’s lot, your pride and joy will have lost some amount of value.

A picture of a scummy salesman

We also can't ignore the fact that there are some sales people out there who will take advantage of you just because you're young

After a year, it will have lost around 20%. Some who are veteran car owners and drivers are used to this and will have planned accordingly for the future of his/her car.

For a money-strapped young adult who’s also a new driver/car owner, this might come as a cruel, unwelcome surprise.

Used cars are a mixed bag for new drivers

For both new drivers and veterans, one major advantage of used cars is that when you buy one, someone (the past owner) already shouldered most of the depreciation for you. That means more savings.

Second, an older car is easier to maintain especially if you have mechanical know-how and tools. Newer cars have high tech components that will need specialized tools or even computers to fix. An easy fix for a veteran, however, might become a total nightmare for a newbie.

Take for example the simple act of changing a car’s oil, changing a car’s brake pads, and changing a tire. Even worse are older, carbureted cars, spark plug cleaning, and changing a timing belt.

>>> Related: 5 best used cars for beginners in the Philippines

A picture of an old man about to drive

Do note however that older drivers will need the complex, driver assist features of new, modern cars

These activities might be easy for you, but for a young person who has never used, let alone, seen a spark plug wrench before, it can be daunting. But let’s face it, even elderly mechanics with years and years of experience will, in turn, have difficulties in dealing with newer car models. Why? Because computers that’s why.

In the same vein, the act of buying a used car might also be difficult for a new driver. There are a lot of things you have to check to make sure it’s safe for you, and if it’s a good buy. And yes, the checklist for buying a used car is extensive.

Another reason to turn to used cars are rare, and/or discontinued car models. What we’re talking about here are cars like the Nissan Silvia series, Toyota Celica, Honda Integra DC 9, the famous Honda Civic SiR, and many more. For a new driver, these names might not mean a lot, but for those with car knowledge, these are highly desirable cars.

A picture of a yellow Honda Civic Type R on a parking lot

Like the EK9 Type R. It's rare now and the few that's still around are very expensive

Do note that these rare names are also high-performance cars so they can eat up a lot of gas, and will need more maintenance. Couple that with the fact that there’s a great chance that these cars have had multiple owners.

This means that there’s also a great chance that their previous owner or owners might have driven them hard thus deteriorating their components faster.

Also, it’s not uncommon to see these cars filled with countless aftermarket modifications. If something goes wrong for these modifications, then it’s pretty hard to pin down especially for a person with no mechanical skills.

On the money side of things, pristine rare cars tend to fetch a high price due to the fact that some of these cars will ignore depreciation. Do note though that low depreciation rates aren’t exclusive to sports and there are also other kinds of cars that have high resale value.

A picture of a first generation Fortuner on an unpaved parking lot

Even the first-gen Toyota Fortuner can be a bit pricey

So yes, for those who are new middle-aged-family drivers looking for a sizable second hand SUV or a work truck, you’ll quickly find that those can sometimes be expensive too.

And finally, older used cars have a lot of aftermarket parts. This is especially true with the Honda Civic. So if you want to have a go with modding your car, the base car will almost always be an older model.

Do note that you can still modify a new car but it might be more expensive, and you might have fewer options, plus some modifications may actually void a brand new car’s warranty. We’re looking at you, impressionable young adult car owners.

So, as a car buyer, do you know where you stand now? For more useful car buying tips, keep reading here on Philkotse.com.

Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar G.B. Miguel


Cesar Guiderone B. Miguel was born and raised in Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology. He previously worked as a freelance writer for various websites, as a member of the Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management's training staff, and as a medical sales representative.

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