The time has come to buy your first car! You've saved every dollar working your part-time job and you've aced your driving test! Now there's nothing holding you back. Buying a car is relatively easy once you know what to look for and what to avoid. Here are our top ten things you should keep in mind when buying your first car.
1. You need a budget
Before you even begin looking you should establish a realistic budget. If you are taking out a loan, consider how much you can afford to pay per month. Include expenses such as fuel, insurance, and parking. If you are thinking of buying an older vehicle, check out the Australian Government's Fuel Consumption Guide Database to gain an idea of how much you will be spending.
2. You should figure out what you WANT and what you NEED
Buying your first car can be extremely exciting, but before you decide on a model, consider whether it will suit your needs. Just because a car is trendy, doesn't mean it will meet the needs of your particular lifestyle.
3. Research is important
We know, this sounds boring and time-consuming, but in this day and age it could not be easier. The internet provides an incredible amount of information on anything you may want to know, from descriptions of car models, to reviews of car dealerships. For some extra tips on new vs used and dealer vs private, take a peek at the P-Platers Guide to Buying Your First Car.
4. You should shop around for the best deal
After you've decided on a car, start shopping around. Whether you're buying new or second-hand, it is worth taking your time to find the best deal. If you are buying second-hand, look on sites like Gumtree for that perfect bargain.
5. Be cautious
When it comes to spending your hard-earned cash on a new car, it always pays to cautious. If you're buying a used car, you can check online car prices on Redbook to know approximately how much that make and model is worth. Before you agree to a used car deal, ensure you are given a roadworthy certificate. Always double check contracts.
6. Take it for a spin
Online, or in the newspaper, that car may look perfect, but you are not going to know if it's right for you until you've taken it for a drive. Spend at least half an hour in the car, taking into consideration how you feel behind the wheel. Are you comfortable? Is the seat a suitable height? Does the car match the picture in the advertisement? If you're test-driving more than one car, try to drive them on the same day. This will make it easier to compare the two.
7. Travel safe
If you are purchasing a used car, we recommend that you have the vehicle inspected by a Mobile Vehicle Inspection service such as that offered by RAC. Not only will they ensure the car is safe, they'll also help you avoid buying a lemon. ANCAP also offer a car safety rating guide here.
8. You will need insurance
Insurance companies offer a range of different car insurance plans. Websites such as Finder.com.au allow you compare the plans on offer and find one that will cover your vehicle.
9. Be prepared and take a friend
We recommend taking a friend or family member with you when you are looking at a car. This will give you a second opinion and make the process less stressful.
10. Keep calm and enjoy the experience
You're only going to buy your first car once. Don't stress out and rush into anything you are unsure about. Trust your instinct and avoid emotional decisions. Try to relax, enjoy the experience and you'll be zooming down the highway in your dream car in no time!