Sometimes when looking for deals, we end up making choices that cost us more over time. Here are some items you should always buy new — or refurbished and warrantied. Tara McAlister, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers
Computers. Unless you're buying a refurbished unit that comes with a warranty, a used computer can be a bad choice. It could be riddled with glitches or other problems, shortening the already short life of technology.
.Car seats. As one of the most important items you'll buy for your child, car seats must be properly installed and in proper working condition. Once in an accident or severely misused, the seat's effectiveness is compromised. When buying a new car seat, go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website (nhtsa.gov) to make sure the model hasn't been recalled. If you are inheriting a car seat, trust the source and know for sure the car seat has not been in an accident.
TVs. From personal experience, the best way to get a great deal on a new TV is to get out early on Black Friday. Don't buy somebody else's problem TV.
DVD players. The key component of a DVD is the laser, but they can and will wear out over time. Buying a new one ensures the laser passed the factory inspection.
Vacuum cleaners. With two dogs and two children, my vacuum gets a huge workout. When buying a used vacuum, you have no idea how heavily it's been used. On eBay, there are refurbished models of high-end vacuums. These may be great deals — if there are accompanying warranties.
Digital cameras. Check out RefurbDepot.com, which offers lots of refurbished products with warranties.
Mattresses. I would put toothbrushes and hairbrushes in the same category. I don't think much explanation is needed here.
Helmets. Similar to car seats, this protective gear is key to your survival. It is critical that your helmet is in top-notch condition. Buying a helmet from someone else puts a great deal of trust in the previous owner. There is no cost comparison between a new helmet and major head trauma.