I keep my cars for 10+ years. I want to make sure it's been treated properly, serviced correctly, etc to make sure it lasts as long as possible. When you're buying used, no matter how much you try to find out about it, you can never be 100% certain of its history. I understand that a lot of people disagree with this, but in my case, I choose to purchase new.
Then you're choosing to overpay.
My wife and I bought brand new our first time, too. We had the same plan as you: drive it into the ground.
Well, it got driven into the ground, alright. It was totaled when a teenage girl on her cell phone rear-ended my wife and shoved her under a school bus (photos here
) before we'd even finished paying for it.
After that, we realized that even the best-laid plans can be ruined by events beyond our control. We looked at what we'd paid for that car ($40,000 for a Jetta!
) and what the insurance company thought it was worth ($13,000).
It turns out that cars with 15k - 30k miles on them are still practically new, but much, much less expensive. You can tell yourself "you can never be 100% sure" if it makes you feel better about throwing your money away, but the truth is, it would take a heckuvalot of maintenance problems to equal the amount you'd save by letting someone else eat the depreciation. Do you really care if your 1-year old, used car costs you $1,000 in repairs that first year, if you bought it for $5,000 less than the brand-new model?
Keep in mind that a $5,000 price difference isn't really accurate. You'd have to add tax on that, so you're saving the extra taxes, too. Then, you have to factor in the extra interest you'd pay by financing a larger amount, too. Finally, keep in mind that you're doing all this with after-tax dollars. How many extra hours would you have to work to earn the difference in price between that new car and a 1-year old car?
I think you should ask yourself - is it really
likely that a 1-year old car will cost more to repair than you'd save over buying new, or are you just trying to rationalize buying something new and shiny?
If you really want to buy a new car because you think you deserve it, or you just really really want it, that's fine, it's your money. I'm just saying, at least be honest with yourself (and your spouse?) about your reasons. The reason you gave here doesn't hold any water, when you sit down and do the math.
This is a forum about eliminating debt and getting rich, not how to get the best deal on an overpriced, superficial status symbol.