Used vs New: Which is Best to Buy?

Does everything you buy have to be brand new? The answer is, not necessarily. Sure, we all like new things with their new smells and feel. Who doesn’t like that new car smell? Buying new does have its advantages, such as store and manufacturer guarantees and warranties. New cars typically come with 3-year/36,000 mile warranties. Most stores do have a return policy.

But, buying everything new can be expensive, and some things can be bought used, still be of great quality with most of its life left, and save you a lot of money as well. But you do need to know what types of products are best bought new and what types of products are best bought used. Some items, like cars, can be bought used without problems, if you do it right. Here’s what I’ve learned about which products are best bought new and which are best bought used. The list is by no means complete, but it may give you an idea of where you can score great bargains and where you need to splurge on the new item.

Electronics: In General, Buy New! The biggest reason I say this is due to the safety factor. New electronics have been tested, and not abused or worn through day-to-day use. And, they are made to conform to the most recent safety standards. You don’t know where used electronics have been, or if there is a short somewhere inside, or a frayed section of wire that may spark an electrical fire.

Then, you may not be able to test the used item in all ways, if at all, and later find that it has issues. A used computer may lack a complete operating system, or have an inferior version, or may have a part that doesn’t work, like an internal fan. The internal fan is used to dissipate a computer’s internal heat. You may not notice that the fan didn’t work when you tested it briefly at the flea market, but when you bring it home and try it out for an extended period, it ends up quitting on you or doing strange things because its internal temperature got too high, due to the inoperative fan.

Now, there is an exception to this rule. If the item is new in the box, or is an item you know very well because it is your best friend’s old computer, which you’ve used almost as much as he has, then go ahead and buy it. If you read my post , “Garage Sale & Flea Market Bargains? Yes, and They Don’t Have to be Crappy!“, you would have read about the Sony clock radio I bought at a very good price. It was new in the box and I could see it had never been used, so I made the exception. Actually, this exception could really apply to any item!

Cookware and Dishes: Buy New! Again, you don’t know where the used item has been, or how it was used, and, since it will be used for eating, well, let’s just say I would be leery unless, again, you are already familiar with the item or it is new in the box.

Books, CD’s, DVD’s, Records, and Tapes: Buy Used! Often you can find great prices for these items, especially at flea markets! Of course, the one problem is finding the artists you’re interested in where CD’s , records, and tapes are concerned. Oftentimes, I see CD’s by artists no one has ever heard of. Of course, you may be a fan of one of these obscure artists and so this may be just right for you. And, with most paperback books going for $6 and up in the bookstores, the dollar or less you pay for the used version is a real bargain!

Knickknacks and Collectibles: Buy Used! Knickknacks and other decorative pieces are not going to be used for eating and are not usually electrical, so buying these used makes a lot of sense and you can usually score some great bargains!

Toys: Buy Used with Caution! Toys can be bought used generally, but do make sure that they are intact, with no small pieces coming off them. For larger toys that kids may ride or climb on, do a thorough inspection for structural soundness, and also look for any surprises, like a bolt or latch that doesn’t work right despite not looking worn or broken. Make sure games are complete and that battery operated toys actually work when batteries are added.

Bicycles: Buy Used with Caution! Bikes, like toys, can be bought used and at great prices, but again, as above, do inspect the bike and try it out first. Look for wear, broken parts, and rust. And be sure the gear shift and brakes work and that nothing is still loose even after it is tightened.

Non Cloth Furniture: Buy Used! I’ve seen coffee tables , cribs, dining sets, and other furniture pieces that looked really good being sold at garage sales and flea markets. And I’ve seen crap, too. The biggest problem is finding what you want. Those nice furniture pieces may not be what you are looking for. But if you do find something, you can score a great bargain! Just be sure you can get it home, since I know of no flea market or garage sale that offers delivery!

Cloth Furniture: Buy New! Not knowing where the used item has been, I wouldn’t buy used cloth furniture, or anything used with cloth or fabric, unless it is new in the box! Can you say, “Bedbugs“? And who knows what else?

TV Trays and Small Tables and Shelves: Buy used! Again, great bargains can be had. My TV trays that I talk about in my post, “Garage Sale & Flea Market Bargains? Yes, and They Don’t Have to be Crappy!” is a perfect example! $10 for a set that would set you back $39 new in the store!? Can’t beat that!

Cars: Buy Used with Caution! If you do your research and due diligence, you can score a great bargain with a used car. I did this and have no regrets. And, the good news is that brand name car dealers, independent used car dealers, and private parties all sell used cars. A brand name car dealership is usually safest, but the used cars may be the most expensive here. Used car dealers vary in how honest or dishonest they are, but you still have a chance for recourse with them if things go wrong. Buying from private parties carries the most risk, though a savvy car buyer can score the best bargains from private parties. Fortunately, the internet provides lots of sites that can guide you in your quest for a used car. Be sure to get a Carfax report!

So, these are my opinions on used versus new products. Please feel free to comment and to mention products you would add to this list! Also, if you know anyone who is indecisive about whether to buy something new or used, send them here to this site!

Thanks for reading!  🙂

One thought on “Used vs New: Which is Best to Buy?

  1. Pingback: Why I Now Prefer Pre-Owned (Used) Cars | lifespaceblog

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