6 tips for buying your next car

3 min read

Sexy and safe – two words which might just represent your future car. A car can be one of your biggest assets in terms of cost, your safety and emotional attachment so researching before you buy is crucial. It can also give you confidence when it comes to negotiating a price and paying for your car.

Here are our 6 top tips on what to look at in your research.

1) Budget

Knowing what you can afford at the start can fine-tune your research, after all, you don’t want to fall in love with a luxury sports car when your budget looks more like a standard sedan. It can also help you decide whether buying a new car or a second-hand car will be better for you. Don’t forget when you budget to include costs such as insurance, extras (if it’s a new car) or potential repair work (if a second-hand car). Look at the MoneySmart Cars app for help planning this.

As part of this, it is worth investigating financing if you might need it so you can find an appropriate loan for you in advance rather than having to rely on the contracts offered at a dealer group at the last minute.

2) Lifestyle and comfort

Pick a car that is suitable for your lifestyle. If you live in the inner-city where parking is minimal, mostly drive in the city and are on your own, a 2-door hatchback might be a better option than a large-scale 4WD. On the flip-side, you might need a bigger, more durable car if you have a large family and drive long distances regularly.

You might also look at specific features of cars depending on your lifestyle, for example, whether you need a tow-bar on the car or roof racks. Or whether a navigation system would be valuable because you often drive to areas you don’t know well.

People also often forget to see if the car is going to be comfortable for them to drive. Is there enough headspace or cabin space if you are very tall? Or if you are smaller, you might want to make sure you have unobstructed vision in the car and that the design doesn’t make it hard for you to see other traffic. Test driving the cars you like the look of can help with this aspect of research.

3) Safety

There’s no question that driving can be a dangerous activity – for you, your passengers and for others around you. Checking the safety ratings and features of cars is vital. Cars in Australia are typically rated according to a star rating using ANCAP or Euro NCAP and ideally, you want your car to be four or five-star rated. You can find out these ratings on sites like carsguide.com.au for both new and used cars.

4) Fuel efficiency

The cost to run your car can make a big difference in its affordability for you over the longer term. It is measured in two ways. One way is litres per 100 km (L/100km) where the lower the number is, the more fuel efficient it is. Another way is kilometres per litre (km/L) where the higher the number is, the more fuel efficient it is.

Depending on the age of the car, it might be less fuel efficient due to improving technology. For example, a new car might be able to access the latest hybrid or electric technology to reduce your costs. This shouldn’t put you off an older car though. What you spend on fuel will also be influenced by your driving habits so that two-year old hatchback might be just as suitable for you.

5) Pricing

Look around to work out typical prices for the car you want by looking at car dealers, sites like redbook.com.au and carsales.com.au. If you are looking for a new car, it’s also worth checking what rebates car dealers might offer and getting a range of quotes from different businesses. The more you know about pricing, the more confident you can feel in negotiating a fair price for your car, or setting a price to sell or trade in your old car.

6) Car history

If you are looking at buying an older car, don’t forget to check the car’s history to make sure it isn’t stolen, there are no existing debts on it and it hasn’t previously been written-off by doing a car check through your state motor registry or sites like revscheck.com.au and checkmyrego.com.au. You’ll just need the vehicle identification number (VIN) to do this.

Define your finances for your future lifestyle.
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This information has been prepared by Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL & ACL 233714 (Westpac) and is current as at 13 November 2017. BT Advisers are representatives of Westpac. BT Advice is a division of Westpac. The information in this article is general information only. It does not constitute any recommendation or financial product advice. It provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. Before acting on it, you should seek independent financial and tax advice about its appropriateness to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This information may contain material provided directly by third parties and is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. It should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.  ©BT Financial Group 2017