When in the market for a convertible, the first consideration is whether to buy new or used. Buying a brand-new convertible 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 car, you know what you're getting; you don't have to worry about potential service problems or concealed collision damage. 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 car is rapid depreciation. A new car can shed half its value in its first two or three years on the road. If you finance the new car with a low down payment, you can easily find yourself "upside down" on the loan, where you owe more than the car is worth.
Used cars can be a welcome alternative. The used-car market is about three times the size of the new-car market, so there are plenty of cars from which to choose. One of the best strategies is to find a car you like that's only two to three years old. Such a car has already taken its biggest depreciation hit and should have the majority of its useful life ahead of it. Modern cars, if soundly maintained, can stay on the road for 200,000 miles or longer. Rust isn't nearly as big a problem as it was years ago, and solid-state electronics have eliminated the need for frequent tune-ups.
The key to selecting a good used convertible is to focus on reliability, even when a prospective automobile is still covered by its original factory warranty. Look for a car that has done well in our Reliability judgments. The convertible reliability stars in our records include models from Audi, Lexus, and Mazda.
CR's reliability scores are no guarantee, of course, but they do carry the weight of probability. If you shop for convertibles with top-notch reliability scores, the odds are on your side. At the same time, every used car is unique. A careful pre-purchase inspection remains a vital part of the process. If you do research and take care in the car selection, a used convertible can save you significant money in the long run.
Whether buying new or used, it is important to do your research to choose a good model, and follow that up with effective negotiation.
Learn more in our guides to buying a new or usedcar.
Check our Car Brand Report Cards to learn more about each automaker.