Set your budget
1. Set your budget
Remember, as well as the price of the car, there is insurance and registration to consider. Plus, you have to allow for ongoing maintenance and servicing costs.
2. Decide what you want
As early as possible, decide what make and model you want. You are then able to check what’s available and what the market value is.
3. Aim for a recent model
Narrow your search to the most recent models that fit your budget. That means you get the best possible safety features available.
4. Ask questions
No matter who you are buying from, you must ask lots of questions. And make sure you are happy with the answers before you proceed. Ask the seller:
- Is any finance owing on the car?
- Did you buy it new?
- Why are you selling the car?
- Does it get garaged each night?
- Has it been in a crash?
- Can I see the service book?
5. Find out the history
For your own protection you must get the car’s VIN number and check it against the official record in your state. (In some states there is a small fee for this check but it’s worth it.)
6. Get a quote for car insurance before you buy
Do you want to comprehensively insure your car for an agreed or market value? Agreed value insures your car for a specific amount of money agreed on by yourself and the insurer. Insuring your car for market value means that, in the event of a claim, you would be paid up to the market rate for your car at that time.
Or do you only need third party property insurance? This covers any damage your car might cause to someone else’s car or property.
The car insurance quote will also depend on the make and model of vehicle (and how costly it is to repair) and whether any modifications have been done to the car.
There is also the question of an age excess. An age excess normally applies to any driver under 25 years of age and means there would be an additional cost to pay in the event of a claim.
7. Take the car for a test drive
A few of the things you need to check include:
- Steering – does the car drive ‘truly’ or does it wander to one side?
- Brakes – you want a smooth stop in a straight line.
- Exhaust – blue smoke is not a good sign.
- Transmission – you want smooth gear changes.
- Suspension – listen for rattles when you drive over bumps.
8. Take a friend
For everyone, a car is an important purchase, so take a friend or relative with you. Your friend may notice something that you miss.
9. Getting an inspection
Getting a qualified, independent person to inspect a vehicle before you buy, can be very worthwhile. A qualified car mechanic can do this for you or you can call on a motoring body like the NRMA or RACV.
10. Time to talk price
When you are satisfied that you have found the car you want, then you talk price. Some people love to negotiate, some people just pay the asking price. Either way, it is best to do your research. Become informed. And pay only what you believe is reasonable for the particular car given its history and condition.
11. Paperwork is not boring
In Australia, the rules vary from state to state so it’s important to check what applies in your state. In all cases you need to get registration papers. There are also roadworthy certificates and transfer forms that may apply to you.
If you are handing over money for a deposit or full payment, you should get a dated receipt with the seller’s full contact details – including driver’s licence number if it’s a private sale.
12. Get everything!
Before you drive away in your new car, make sure you have everything:
- Service books and owner’s manual
- Receipt of sale and any other documents
- Instructions for the alarm (if there is one)
- Security number for the radio.