For most of us shelling out for a car, whether it’s new or second hand, is a big investment and no-one wants to make a mistake. Before you go shopping, doing the research and figuring out what you want, need and can afford, is essential.
Here are eight easy steps to help you find the perfect wheels!
1. Make the car fit the job
While you might dream of a sleek two-door red sports car, if you have kids and pets you may need something more practical. Get clear on what distances you travel each week, whether they’re in the city or country, whether it’s for business, leisure or both, the number of passengers or drivers that are involved and the frequency of use. All these factors will start to influence the sort of car to choose to best suit your needs.
2. Get clear on your non-negotiables
Safety features, a fantastic sound system, cup holders, sunroof or a spacious boot – get clear on your must haves and spend time on the listed model specifications and accessories. If environmental impact and being more fuel efficient is important to you then the Australian Government’s Green Vehicle Guide can help you out.
3. Set your budget
Price point and how much you can afford to spend is normally central to any car buying decision. You may be able to afford to buy a car outright or you may need to organise finance. If you’re borrowing money, consider getting pre-approval before you start looking so you'll be in a better position to bargain and will know exactly how much you can afford to spend before you start shopping around for deals. Researching the best car finance can take time. Try comparison sites Infochoice, Canstar and Ratecity where you can compare different rates and offers.
4. Scope all the costs
The financial implications of buying a car go way beyond the purchase price. Initial costs that need to be factored into your budget include:
- Insurance - Compulsory third party (CTP or Greenslip) or comprehensive car insurance
- Mechanical and other inspections
- Stamp duty and transfer fees.
Ongoing costs may include fuel, tolls, parking, insurance, loan repayments, regular servicing, maintenance and repairs, annual registration, roadside assist and Automobile Association memberships.
5. Get reliable info
If you’re looking to buy a new car the Australian Automobile Association’s Australia’s Best Cars is a comprehensive and independent consumer focused vehicle testing and award program and acts as a new car buyer’s guide and includes news and reviews on more than 300 vehicles. RedBook and Carsguide are great second hand car resource guides for price, model and make of car.
6. Do the safety rating
So you’ve found a car. It’s the right price and looks good, drives well, and it suits what you need. But does it cut it in the safety stakes? It’s worth checking consumer advocates ANCAP and Choice who provide safety rating assessments for new and used cars. Security is also something to look at.
According to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, a car is stolen somewhere in Australia every six minutes and you don’t want yours to be one of them. NRMA Insurance's Car Theft Ratings highlights what security features the car is equipped with and can help you choose a more secure vehicle
7. Check the regulations
Each state and territory has different regulations, warranties and cooling off periods around buying and selling used cars. If you are buying a used car check your state’s Fair Trading website to know your rights and responsibilities.
8. Get an inspection
If you're buying a second hand car and are not comfortable inspecting the car yourself talk to a trusted mechanic. You can also organise an independent expert inspection through your state's motoring organisation. A comprehensive inspection will detail the current state of the vehicle and can help you negotiate on price, and could save you thousands by revealing mechanical problems and previous damage.
9. Check the car is debt free
Car dealers are legally obliged to guarantee that the car has no finance against it. For private sales you should check the Australian Government’s national Personal Property Securities Register.
Bottom line – don’t impulse buy. Take your time, do the due diligence and you’ll get it right.
- Read the Green Vehicle Guide
- Try comparison sites Infochoice, Canstar and Ratecity
- Visit Australia’s Best Cars website
- Access second hand car guides RedBook and Carsguide
- Check safety rating assessments for new and used cars
- Read NRMA Insurance's Car Theft Ratings
- For private sales visit the Personal Property Securities Register
- Visit the NRMA website for Car Insurance information.