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Life Guides Lifestyle

10 Important Must Know Tips and Tricks When Buying a Car

A car is one of the most significant purchases you will make in your life. For that reason alone, it is important that you made all the right moves and decisions when it comes to buying the right car. This can be stressful, as getting the best quality car for the lowest possible price would be your main priority.  Here, we have included 10 essential must-know tips and tricks you must consider when buying a car, to ensure a stress-free purchase, especially for a first-timer.


Your Budget and Affordability

When considering a car, it is important for buyer to be as realistic as possible when it comes to money and expectation.  Not only that, on top of the car price, you must consider all other associated costs. Some of the costs include but not limited to :

  • Insurance premium
  • Rego
  • Stamp duty
  • GST
  • Extended warranty
  • Transfer of Ownership
  • Spare parts costs
  • Road side assistance
  • Ongoing Maintenance.

These can easily add up to your initial estimate.  You can work towards reducing the car prices to your budget by honing your negotiation skills, however, the rest are pretty much expenses that come with owning a car. The safest bet is to estimate possible spending and stick to what you can afford. There will be plenty of temptations to buy big, shiny and expensive. There will always be people to impress, but you also don’t want to spend your life worrying about making your monthly repayments.

On top of that, knowing your affordability would also allow you to decide to purchase your car outright, using a personal finance or through leasing

When buying a car, the first thing I say to the sales person is ” What can you get for 20 Grand? “.  Done my research and I know that, that amount can buy me a decent small to medium car. The salesperson now know that I know how much I want to spend and won’t likely to go beyond my budget. Salesperson loves indecisive buyers, that’s when they know they can convince you to buy cars you don’t need and cannot afford. So come prepared with a budget in mind and firmly stick to it.


What do you Need

Ask yourself, what are your non-negotiable’s,  must haves and nice to have in a car?  Is the car for driving your kids around and to run errands within your locality ? or do you drive a long distance to work every day and need something that is fuel efficient? Once you have determined this, stick to your requirement when shortlisting your possible cars.  When we bought Ida a car recently, she wanted a something that can carry stocks, and fit our extended family when they come to visit. Her main must haves is:

  • Economical
  • Automatic
  • Big and spacious
  • Late model
  • Have done less than 20,000 km
  • Airbags
  • ABS

It took us time to find a car within our budget that has the above requirement and are worth buying. But all the above requirements and more were met and the car drives like a dream!



Vehicle Safety Rating

Vehicle safety should be your most important non-negotiable’s. While looks and your must haves are important, nothing beats the significance of a car’s safety factor. Available information such as Australasian New Car Assessment Program ANCAP rating and Used Car Safety Ratings UCSR report will provide you with new and used car’s safety information.

Helpful information such as vehicle’s crash protection, crash avoidance, driveability and child safety are provided to assist you in making your decision. The best practice is to aim for the highest star ANCAP and UCSR rating that you can afford. In Australia, while dealers do not have to show a vehicle safety rating on cars that are for sale, but you can check your car safety ratings from the ANCAP Website



New or Pre-Owned

There are pros and cons to buying both New or Pre-owned cars. Your budget and affordability can play a factor in deciding weather to buy new or pre-owned car. New cars, while are glamorous and packed with state of the art latest features and warranty,  does boast a hefty price tag. Pre-Owned car, on the other hand, are cheaper in price and if researched correctly, you can find a great, well-maintained value for money car. When buying a pre-owned car, it is also important to purchase from a reliable vendor. A car dealer must confirm there is no money owing on the car and also whether it has had hail or flood damage.



Fuel Consumption and Emission

Fuel cost will be a constant weekly spending, hence it is an important consideration in your car buying decision. Your car can be Petrol, Diesel, LPG or Electric driven.  A well-done research will help you avoid fuel guzzling option hence will help you save money in the long run :

LPG : cheaper than petrol and causes less air pollution

Petrol : efficient engine, widely available and more green house gases.

Diesel : More efficient than petrol, lower emission, expensive.

Electric : extremely cheap to run especially if you have solar power, charging station may not be widely available yet.

It is also noteworthy to find a car that has a reduced emission and impact on the environment. The Australian Government Initiative Green Vehicle Guide provides Australian buyers with information on the environmental performance of your potential cars.



Do your Research

We cannot emphasize enough on the importance of doing your own research on your potential cars before you go for a test drive. Do not rely on salesperson to do the right thing by you. Knowing information from a vehicle performance, technical specification, pricing down to dealers reputation will benefit you in making fewer mistakes when buying a car



Test Drive

Now you have information on the cars that you want, the next phase is to test drive it. This is when you affirm everything you want in a car, IS in the car and it works well. Test driving a car will ultimately give you an indication if the car is right for you. Previously when looking for a potential car, Ida test drove a vehicle that was number 1 on her list. She absolutely loves the idea of owning this car as it has everything she wants at a great price range. However, when she started driving the car, she realises that the car is simply too big for her, making it difficult for her to maneuver and see over the windscreen. We ended up buying car number 4 on her list. She felt the most comfortable driving that car.

If the salesperson suggests a shorter route, repeat the drive a few times. Don’t worry about offending them, you are looking to spend a lot of money on a necessity that you will use daily for years! Make sure your test drive includes parking and driving on a decent road stretch (like a highway). When test driving a used car, make sure to check for any signs of mechanical issues, rattles, scratches, dents and paint finishes


Resale Value

This factor tends to be overlooked by car buyers.  Why would you think about the end outcome when you haven’t even started right? Some cars hold their value better than others, so it is worth checking it out.  You would not want to end up with a car that has a difficulty of selling or have a lower trade-in value when you are looking to purchase another car.




Inspection by a trustworthy independent mechanic is essential when buying a used car. This is to make sure you don’t end up buying a lemon. Proper pre-purchase vehicle inspection looks at things comprehensively,  beyond basic visual checks.  This is also to verify sellers claims that the car is roadworthy, has no major defects or mechanical issues. With proper inspection, you can buy a used car with confidence and save you money in any unexpected hidden defects that will cause a whole lot of pain to repair.


Car History Report

When purchasing a used car, one of the biggest gripes is not fully knowing the history of the car. The second-hand car industry is flooded with sellers hiding serious defects to buyers, costing them thousands of dollars in repair costs afterward.  This information may not be available from a private seller or used car dealer. However, you can still do your own investigation through available resources such as the PPSR Register and Car History Report. Spending a bit of money on obtaining a car history report can save you thousands. These websites offer essential used car information such as :

  • finance owing
  • write-offs/stolen
  • previous accidents
  • odometer wind backs
  • Car ownership history

Overall, the best piece of advice would be to do as much research as possible before you go out there to buy a car so you can make informed decisions. Also, be more practical and less emotional. Oh yes, don’t forget to have fun while you are at it!

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