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  • Writer's picturerebwastetire

Choosing Between a New and a Used Sports Car

Like with any type of car, the first decision to make in choosing the right model: Will you buy a new or used one?

Buying a brand-new sports car certainly has its benefits. New cars have the very latest safety gear and engineering improvements, not to mention a bumper-to-bumper factory warranty. With a new vehicle, you know what you’re getting; you don’t have to worry about potential service problems, concealed collision damage, or wear from abusive driving. Further, you can have your choice of color, trim line, and option level. And financing rates are typically lower than for a used vehicle.

The key drawback to buying a new sports car is how quickly it depreciates. They’ve been known to shed half their value in the first two to three years. However, the depreciation picture can change a lot from year to year, depending on competitive forces, fuel prices, new model introductions, and other factors. Financing a new vehicle with a small down payment can easily make buyers “upside down” on the loan, where they owe more than their car is worth.

Buying a used sports car can save money upfront and over the long haul. Plus, the U.S. used-car market is about three times the size of the new-car market, so there are plenty of choices. One of the best strategies is to find a car you like that’s only 2 to 3 years old—likely a vehicle that has been returned from a lease. Such a vehicle has already taken its biggest depreciation hit and should have the majority of its useful life ahead of it. Modern vehicles, if soundly maintained, can stay on the road for 200,000 miles or longer. Moreover, checking CR’s reliability data can help you zero in on a model that might give you fewer headaches down the road.

However, considering that some sports cars are driven hard, special care should be taken when buying used. We strongly recommend taking any used sports car to a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection. Check carefully for excessive wear to the clutch, brakes, and tires (brand-new tires on one axle only may be an attempt to cover up abuse), or signs of collision damage repair.

Moreover, be careful of any car that has been extensively modified; some owner-added mods can void any remaining factory warranty. Modifications such as power-enhancing computer chips, bolt-on superchargers or turbochargers, lowered suspension components, and different wheels and tires can enhance a car’s performance if they are installed properly, but they can also cause big problems, particularly with emissions testing. Even if you plan to customize the car, it’s always best to buy an unmodified example.

Again, focus on reliability when selecting a good new or used car, even if the vehicle is still covered by its original factory warranty. Check with Consumer Reports to find those that have top-notch reliability scores. (See our guide to car reliability.)

Whether buying new or used, it is important to do a little homework to choose a good model and to follow that up with effective

Moreover, be careful of any car that has been extensively modified; some owner-added mods can void any remaining factory warranty. Modifications such as power-enhancing computer chips, bolt-on superchargers or turbochargers, lowered suspension components, and different wheels and tires can enhance a car’s performance if they are installed properly, but they can also cause big problems, particularly with emissions testing. Even if you plan to customize the car, it’s always best to buy an unmodified example.

Again, focus on reliability when selecting a good new or used car, even if the vehicle is still covered by its original factory warranty. Check with Consumer Reports to find those that have top-notch reliability scores. (See our guide to car reliability.)

Whether buying new or used, it is important to do a little homework to choose a good model and to follow that up with effective negotiation.


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