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News: Buying Used vs. New Cars: Which is Better?

JUN 17, 2024

The car market in Cambodia is varied making it a hard decision to consider buying a used vs a new car. There are many brands to choose from and many decisions to make. This article aims to provide various aspects when deciding between new and used cars, with a focus on the Cambodian market, catering to both locals and expats. 

Being equipped with insights and knowledge will lead to a smart choice that best fits your needs and budget, ensuring you get satisfaction from your purchase.


It's crucial to weigh the pros and cons of buying a used vs a new car. New cars offer the latest technology and warranties but come at a higher cost and depreciate rapidly. On the other hand, buying used cars is cost savings, and slower depreciation, but may require more maintenance and lack the latest features.

In Cambodia, the car market presents unique challenges and opportunities for both new and used car buyers. Understanding the local market, including regulatory policies and consumer preferences, is important for making a wise investment.

Factors to consider between a used and a new car

In this section, we will thoroughly examine the essential factors that you should take into account when evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a new car versus a used car within the specific context of Cambodia.

Cost considerations

Initial purchase price

New cars: Higher upfront costs

One of the most apparent differences between new and used cars is the initial purchase price. New cars come with a pricey price tag due to their fresh-out-of-the-factory status. In Cambodia, the cost of new cars can be even higher due to import taxes and tariffs. 

Used cars: Lower purchase costs

In fact, used cars are much more affordable. Their prices are significantly lower because they have already undergone depreciation. For budget-conscious buyers in Cambodia, used cars offer a great way to own a vehicle without the need to earn too much. The initial savings can be allocated to other essential expenses or savings.


New cars: Rapid depreciation in the first few years

Depreciation is one of the key factors buyers need to take into account when purchasing a car. Within the initial years of ownership, new vehicles experience a significant decrease in value. As a matter of fact, a new car can lose up to 30% of its value in the first year alone. 

This rapid depreciation means that even if you decide to sell your car a few years down the line, the selling price is likely to be significantly lower than the original purchase price.

Used cars: Slower depreciation as the value is already reduced

On the flip side, pre-owned cars have already gone through a sustained drop in value. As a result, although they will continue to depreciate, the rate will be much slower compared to the brand-new vehicles 

For consumers in Cambodia, this translates to better value retention over time. The decreased depreciation rate also means that there is potential to resell the car at a price that is closer to the original purchase price, making it a more financially savvy investment in the long run.

Financing and insurance


New cars: Lower interest rates, attractive financing deals

New cars often come with attractive financing deals, including lower interest rates and special promotions from dealerships and manufacturers. These incentives can make the purchase of a new car more appealing despite the higher initial cost. 

For instance, Liberty Carz usually offers some good deals for new cars and even provides loan support. Besides, in Cambodia, some dealers might offer zero-interest financing for a limited period, reducing the overall cost of the loan. 

Used Cars: Higher interest rates, but lower overall loan amounts

On the other hand, financing options are available for used cars, they typically come with higher interest rates. This is because lenders view used cars as a higher risk due to their age and potential for mechanical issues. 

Nonetheless, the lower purchase price of used cars means that the overall loan amount could be smaller, potentially leading to reduced monthly payments.


New cars: Higher insurance premiums

Insurance premiums for new cars are generally higher due to their higher value and the cost of replacing parts with brand-new ones. Additionally, comprehensive coverage is often required for new vehicles, which adds to the overall insurance cost. In Cambodia, this can be a significant expense, especially for high-end models.

Used cars: Lower insurance costs

Used cars, due to their market value, usually come with lower insurance premiums. The cost of repairing or replacing parts for used cars is generally less expensive compared to new cars. This can make insurance more affordable, which is especially important in Cambodia, where many car buyers have budget constraints that impact their decision-making process.

Maintenance and Repairs


New Cars: Covered by manufacturer’s warranty

One of the significant advantages of purchasing a new car is the assurance of a manufacturer’s warranty. This warranty typically covers most repairs and maintenance for a specified period, usually ranging from three to five years or a certain number of miles, whichever comes first. without additional costs.

Another benefit is, since the car is brand new, and hasn’t undergone wear and tear, minimizing the chances of mechanical failures. New cars are built to the latest manufacturing standards and often incorporate the latest technology and safety features, which can contribute to their overall reliability and performance.

Used Cars: Potential for higher maintenance costs, need for thorough inspection

While used cars may be cheaper initially, they could incur greater maintenance expenses. With aging vehicles, there is a need for more frequent repairs and part replacements. Outdated technology in older cars may lead to difficulties and higher costs in finding compatible replacement parts.

It’s worth mentioning the need of conducting a thorough inspection before purchasing a used car to avoid buying a vehicle with hidden problems. This inspection should include a detailed examination of the engine, transmission, brakes, tires, and electrical systems. Potential buyers should also request a vehicle history report to check for any past accidents, repairs, or maintenance issues

Features and Technology

Latest Technology

New Cars: Access to the latest safety and tech features

One of the major attractions of new cars is the incorporation to the latest technology and safety features. From advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) to automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring, new cars are equipped with cutting-edge innovations. 

Their cutting-edge features in new cars can include heads-up displays, wireless charging, and even semi-autonomous driving capabilities. These features enhance safety, comfort, and convenience, providing a superior driving experience.

Used Cars: May lack modern features, need to compromise

It can be seen that used car owners, especially older models, may lack many of the modern features that have in new cars. For buyers in Cambodia who prioritize the latest tech and safety features, this could be a significant drawback.

In terms of infotainment, used cars might not offer the latest connectivity options, touchscreens, or high-quality audio systems. This can affect the driving experience, particularly for those who value in-car entertainment and connectivity. Hence, older vehicles might lack efficiency improvements and eco-friendly features such as hybrid or electric powertrains, which are increasingly common in new cars.


New Cars: Ability to Customize to Preferences

Whenever buying a new car, one of the key benefits is the extensive customization available. Here are the main aspects you can tailor with a new car:

  • Color selection: Choose from a broad palette of exterior and interior colors to match your personal style. Whether you lean towards a classic black, a vibrant red, or a sleek metallic finish, the decision is entirely yours.
  • Interior materials: Pick from a variety of choices, including leather, cloth, and premium fabrics. You can also select the color and texture that best fit your taste and comfort needs.
  • Technology packages: New cars offer a range of tech packages that may include advanced driver-assistance systems, premium audio systems, upgraded infotainment setups, and connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • Performance upgrades: If you have specific performance requirements, you can opt for engines with varying power outputs, enhanced suspension systems, and other performance-related features.
  • Additional features: Customize further with options like sunroofs, alloy wheels, spoiler designs, and more. Manufacturers typically offer optional extras that can enhance the vehicle’s aesthetics and functionality.

This level of personalization allows you to tailor your new car to your exact preferences and needs, making your driving experience uniquely satisfying.

Used cars: Limited to available options

With used cars, your choices are considerably limited to what is available in the market. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Pre-selected colors and materials: Used cars are sold with the color and interior materials chosen by the previous owner which is not align with your preferences.
  • Existing technology and features: The technology and features in used cars are restricted to what was included when the car was originally manufactured. While some used cars might have decent tech, they likely won’t include the latest advancements found in new models.
  • Limited performance options: The performance capabilities of a used car are fixed according to its original specifications. Although aftermarket modifications are possible, they can be expensive and might affect the vehicle’s reliability and warranty.

Despite these limitations, the cost savings from buying a used car can often outweigh the lack of customization options. Buyers should focus on affordability and practicality over the ability to personalize every detail of their vehicle.

Selection and Availability


New cars: Abundance of choices 

New car dealerships provide a diverse selection of vehicle models, features, catering to specific needs and preferences. In Cambodia, these dealerships frequently feature the most recent car models, presenting customers with the opportunity to explore the latest vehicles available in the market. 

Used cars: Limited selection, need to search for specific models

The selection of used cars is restricted to what is currently available in the market. Finding a specific model with your desired features can be challenging, as the inventory depends on what previous owners have decided to sell. 

This can require buyers to spend more time searching and potentially compromising on some aspects, such as color or additional features. However, platforms like streamline this process by offering a wide range of used cars in one place, making it easier to find a suitable vehicle.

Market Conditions

Impact of Cambodia's import policies and availability

Cambodia's import policies significantly impact the availability and pricing of both new and used cars. Import taxes and tariffs can make new cars more expensive, while used cars may offer more value for money. Understanding these market conditions is crucial for making an informed decision. 

Environmental impact

Fuel efficiency

New cars: More fuel-efficient, latest emission standards

New cars are typically more fuel-efficient and comply with the latest emission standards. This not only reduces fuel costs but also minimizes the environmental impact. For eco-conscious buyers in Cambodia, this is a significant advantage.

Used cars: May have lower fuel efficiency

Older used cars may not be as fuel-efficient as newer models. They may also produce higher emissions, contributing to environmental pollution. However, buying a used car can still be considered environmentally friendly as it extends the vehicle's lifecycle and reduces the demand for new car production.


Used cars: Reusing vehicles, reducing demand for new car production

Purchasing a pre-owned vehicle is an environmentally conscious decision because it encourages the recycling of existing cars, thereby decreasing the need for new car manufacturing, which significantly affects the environment. Opting for a used car in Cambodia can be a means to support environmental preservation.

Resale value


New Cars: Significant drop in value over the first few years

As mentioned earlier, new cars depreciate rapidly, losing a significant portion of their value within the first few years. This steep depreciation can result in a lower resale value if you decide to sell the car later.

Used Cars: Slower depreciation, potential for better resale value

Used cars depreciate at a slower rate, which means their value remains more stable over time. If you decide to sell your used car, you may be able to recoup a larger portion of your initial investment. This is an important consideration for buyers in Cambodia, where resale value can significantly impact the overall cost of ownership.

Local considerations in Cambodia

Regulatory and import policies

Impact on availability and pricing of new vs used Cars

Cambodia's regulatory and import policies play a crucial role in determining the availability and pricing of both new and used cars. High import taxes on new vehicles can drive up prices, making used cars a more attractive option for many buyers. 

It's essential to stay informed about these policies and how they affect the market. Here’s a more detailed examination of how these policies impact the market:

High import taxes on new vehicles

One of the most significant factors affecting the price of new cars in Cambodia is the high import tax. The Cambodian government imposes substantial tariffs and taxes on imported new vehicles. These can include:

  • Import duties: These are taxes levied on cars brought into the country, calculated as a percentage of the car’s value. This can significantly increase the cost of new cars.
  • Value-Added Tax (VAT): This tax is applied to the sale of goods and services, including cars, and typically ranges around 10%.
  • Excise tax: This additional tax is imposed based on the engine size and type of vehicle, further raising the price of new cars, particularly those with larger engines or luxury features.

These taxes collectively drive up the final retail price of new cars, making them less affordable for many buyers. The high costs associated with new vehicles can be prohibitive, pushing consumers to consider more cost-effective alternatives.

Impact on used cars

Used cars, on the other hand, are subject to different tax regulations which often make them more affordable. While there are still import duties and VAT applied to used vehicles, these taxes are generally lower compared to those for new cars. Here’s how the policies impact used cars:

  • Lower import duties: Used cars often have lower import duties compared to new ones, making them a more economical choice.
  • Depreciation factor: The value of used cars is based on their depreciated value, which reduces the overall tax burden. This makes the initial purchase price more attractive for buyers.

Availability of used Cars

The market availability of used cars is influenced by several factors linked to regulatory policies:

  • Import regulations: Cambodia has specific regulations governing the age and condition of used cars that can be imported. These regulations aim to ensure that imported used cars meet certain safety and environmental standards, affecting the types and models available in the market.
  • Local demand: High demand for affordable vehicles means that used cars are often quickly resold, maintaining a robust second-hand market. The regulations ensure a steady supply of relatively newer used cars that comply with the current standards.

Environmental and safety standards

Cambodia’s regulatory framework also includes standards for emissions and vehicle safety. These standards can affect both new and used cars:

  • Emission standards: New cars must comply with the latest emission regulations, which can make them more expensive but also more environmentally friendly. Used cars, depending on their age and origin, may not meet these newer standards, potentially limiting their import or use.
  • Safety requirements: There are specific safety regulations that all cars must adhere to. New cars are designed to meet these standards, while used cars imported into Cambodia must be inspected to ensure compliance.

Market dynamics and consumer preferences

The regulatory environment creates a dynamic market where consumer preferences shift based on policy impacts:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Due to the high cost of new cars driven by import taxes, many consumers prefer used cars, which offer better value for money. This preference supports a thriving market for second-hand vehicles.
  • Supply chain: Dealers and importers adapt their supply chains to meet the regulatory requirements and consumer demand, ensuring a consistent availability of compliant used cars.

Popular car brands and models in Cambodia

Consumer preferences in Cambodia often lean towards certain brands and models. Brands like Toyota, Honda, and Ford dominate the market due to their reliability, affordability, and suitability for local conditions.

Understanding local preferences can help you make a more informed decision and ensure that you're buying a car with good resale value and available service support.

Overview of consumer preferences

Consumer preferences in Cambodia’s automotive market tend to favor brands and models that are renowned for their reliability, affordability, and ease of maintenance. This preference is influenced by several factors, including the local driving conditions, availability of spare parts, and the overall cost of ownership. Here’s a more detailed look at the most popular car brands and models in Cambodia as of the latest industry updates.

Toyota: The leading choice

Reliability and resale value

  • Toyota is the most popular car brand in Cambodia, with models like the Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, and Toyota Land Cruiser being top choices among consumers.
  • These models are celebrated for their exceptional reliability, which is a crucial factor for Cambodian drivers who often face challenging road conditions.
  • The resale value of Toyota vehicles remains high, making them a prudent investment for those looking to sell their car in the future.

Affordability and maintenance

  • Toyota vehicles are known for their affordability, both in terms of purchase price and maintenance costs.
  • The widespread availability of spare parts and the extensive network of service centers across Cambodia make it easier and cheaper to maintain a Toyota vehicle.

Honda: A strong contender

Fuel efficiency and innovation

  • Honda is another top brand favored by Cambodian consumers, particularly for its fuel-efficient models like the Honda Civic and Honda CR-V.
  • The brand’s commitment to innovation and the inclusion of modern features in their cars attract tech-savvy buyers looking for a combination of efficiency and advanced technology.

Reliability and comfort

  • Honda cars are also praised for their reliability and comfortable interiors, which are significant considerations for families and daily commuters.
  • The Honda Accord is especially popular for its spaciousness and smooth driving experience.

Ford: Rising Popularity

Durability and performance

  • Ford has been gaining popularity in Cambodia, particularly with models like the Ford Ranger and Ford Everest.
  • These models are known for their durability and performance, making them ideal for both urban driving and off-road adventures.

Safety features

  • Ford vehicles are equipped with advanced safety features, which appeal to buyers prioritizing family safety and vehicle security.
  • The robust build quality and higher ground clearance of Ford vehicles also make them suitable for Cambodia’s diverse driving terrains.

Other notable brands

Hyundai and Kia

  • Hyundai and Kia have also made significant inroads into the Cambodian market with models like the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage.
  • These brands offer a blend of affordability, modern design, and comprehensive warranties, attracting a growing number of buyers.

Luxury brands

  • For those seeking luxury and performance, brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus are becoming increasingly popular.
  • These brands cater to the higher-end market segment, offering premium features, superior build quality, and prestigious brand value.

Impact on resale value

  • Choosing a popular brand and model can significantly impact the resale value of your vehicle. In Cambodia, well-known brands like Toyota and Honda hold their value better due to their established reputation and demand in the second-hand market.
  • Vehicles from these brands are easier to sell and often fetch a higher resale price compared to lesser-known brands.


To sum up, the decision to buy a new or used car involves weighing several factors, including cost, financing, insurance, maintenance, features, and environmental impact. In Cambodia, where market conditions and local preferences play a significant role, making an informed decision is crucial.

Summary of key points:

  1. Cost considerations: Used cars offer significant savings in purchase price and slower depreciation.
  2. Financing and insurance: New cars come with attractive financing deals but higher insurance costs.
  3. Maintenance and repairs: New cars have lower initial maintenance costs, while used cars may require more frequent repairs.
  4. Features and technology: New cars provide the latest features and customization options, while used cars may lack modern tech.
  5. Selection and availability: New cars offer a wide range of choices, while used cars may require more time to find specific models.
  6. Environmental impact: New cars are more fuel-efficient, but buying used cars promotes sustainability.
  7. Resale value: Used cars retain their value better over time compared to new cars.
  8. Local considerations: Cambodia's import policies, road conditions, and consumer preferences significantly impact the decision.



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