In my personal experience, I have always bought a used car and both were Japanese cars. The first one was a 1999 Nissan Maxima and I then traded it in for a 2011 Nissan Altima S special edition. Prior to purchasing the vehicles, I did shop around and when I narrowed down to the vehicle, I had to check first what was the mileage as that is very important to the depreciation factor and second get a Carfax report to check the history of the vehicle such as repairs done to it, the maintenance and if there were accidents. The last thing one would want is purchasing a lemon which will end up in major repairs costing unrealistic amounts of money.
With both vehicles the mileage was low as it was pre-owned by an individual that did not drive much and both had a clean report. I did purchase the used car 3 year warranty but the mistake I made with the Nissan Maxima which I have learned with my current Nissan Altima and that was not reading the fine print of the warranty. There is always a minimum requirement needed for not voiding the warranty and in my case it was the maintenance done every 6 months. The dealers do not tell you that and you have to ask all the questions before you sign the purchase contract.
Trade-ins can be negotiated when purchasing the newer used vehicle and cash backs that are offered. What I have found out with Nissan is they have a loyalty program when you buy from them again which can be used against the purchase price. I am sure this applies with other car companies.
I was very close this year in purchasing a new Nissan Leaf as I was contemplating that I would save since it is an electric vehicle; however, through discussions with family and looking at reviews, it is too early for me to think about purchasing an electric vehicle as the mileage on a battery charge is still low plus the added costs associated with a theoretical accident and having to replace the battery which is phenomenally expensive. The other factor was that since I still have debt to pay on the current vehicle, I do not want to add another 5 to 7 years to be in debt again. The technology of electrical vehicles will improve in the next 3 to 5 years and when it is the right time I will consider whether should I buy a new or used vehicle; preferably electrical. Below is a link from Autotrader.com that provides questions to ask yourself to decide on a new or used car. What are your thoughts on buying new versus used vehicles? Would you consider purchasing a gasoline, hybrid or electrical? Do you have any tips when negotiating about purchasing a vehicle? What should one look for so not to be trapped with a burden of expenses on a vehicle?