An Old Piece of Car-Buying Advice Might Not Be Relevant Anymore

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When you tell people you want to buy a new car, they often inundate you with all kinds of advice. People have their opinions on just about everything—favorite makes and models, whether to buy from a dealer or a private owner, how much to put down right away, what kind of car loan to sign—the list is endless.
One thing many people swear by is avoiding the first model year of any vehicle that interests you. They think that automakers iron out the kinks found in the first year and improve the model as time goes on.
But is that true? While buying the first-year model of a car involves an element of the unknown, especially in the first year it’s available, reliable data shows that first-year models often rank well for dependability.
Keys, money, and a toy car sitting side-by-side
Some people are afraid to buy the first model year of a car | Twenty20

The argument against first-year models

With any new product, there is, of course, an element of the unknown. Cars are no exception. While automakers vigorously test their concepts before releasing them to the public, nothing can replace good, old-fashioned time on the road. If the unknown makes you uncomfortable, you might want to avoid brand new models.
The second or third version of a car often comes with updates and improvements that weren’t available at the time of the model’s first release. This is true every year, no matter the product, but if you’re deciding between used cars, you might want to choose a later version for this reason.

The argument for buying first-year models

Despite having less experience in the hands of owners, the process new models go through before entering the market has become more and more effective. New cars are tested under extreme weather driving conditions. The reality is that major issues are unlikely to pass through unnoticed by automakers.
The numbers support this. J.D. Power, from data collected for their Vehicle Dependability Study, claims that 2020 was the best year for dependability overall. New models averaged just as well as their more experienced rivals.
When it comes to added features, new models always have the same features as the other vehicles made in that year. Future versions might have new tech or improvements, but that will always be true, no matter what model you buy. The industry will always develop new ideas and adapt to new technology.

Insuring your car, no matter the model-year

If you’re shopping for a car, it’s better to do your research on the specific cars that interest you rather than deciding what to buy based on their model years. The same is true for car insurance.
Insurance premiums vary widely from make and model. The age of a vehicle will often make a difference, but the model’s version probably won’t. You’re better off focusing on more dominant factors like your driving record and credit score.
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