In order to bring some order to the process, here are 8 things to check off as you go about finding your next car.
Define a budget
If you already own a car, consider how a different car might change your service, insurance, or petrol costs. If you are selling your existing car, research how much the car is worth before working out your budget. If this is your first time buying, don’t forget to budget for stamp duty, dealer delivery, extras, insurance, finance costs as well as the running costs. Decide how much you can afford to pay on a monthly basis, as this will help inform what type of car you can afford.
Have your finance pre-approved
Unless you have the cash up front to pay for a new car, you’ll require financing of some kind. Know what your limit is and seek a pre-approval so that you’ll have confidence when negotiating on price. Generally a pre-approval will be valid for a number of months and will ensure you don’t have to rush around when you do find the car you a looking for.
When it comes to researching cars, you can use a vehicle sourcing service which will find, compare, and negotiate on your behalf. Alternatively, if you don’t mind doing the work yourself, you can start by looking online to see industry standardised data on new and used car prices. Before you decide on a model, consider what your everyday needs are.
Find out as much as you can about the cars you’re interested in before you arrange an inspection. Download brochures from car manufacturer websites, or request call backs from dealers who can answer specific questions. If you are contacting a private seller, be sure to find out how long they have owned the car, the car’s service history and their reason for selling.
If you don’t feel confident in your knowledge of cars, it can be useful to bring along an informed friend to the car inspection. This is particularly true if you are purchasing a used car through a private seller. Ask to see the logbook and make note of any parts that do not appear to be in good condition. Finally, take the car for a test drive at slow and fast speeds and on different road types if you can. Pay attention to how it feels and sounds and check that you are content with the layout of the interior features.
Check the facts
If you are buying a used car, check with the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), to see if any money is owed on the vehicle or if the car was written off by an insurance company. Make sure the address on the registration certificate matches the seller’s home address, and double check that the odometer reading is the same as what was advertised. You may also need to research the costs of any replacement parts you think the car might need.
Negotiate on price
Whether you are buying from a dealer or a private seller, don’t let yourself be pushed beyond your pre-defined budget. Know what you can afford and don’t go beyond it when negotiating. If you feel uncomfortable negotiating with a dealer, you should consider the help of a car sourcing and buying service. These services will often source prices from a range of local dealers and negotiate price and features on your behalf.
Get the paperwork
Once you've struck a deal make sure you have the original registration papers, service history and logbook. Get a written receipt with the seller's details for each payment you make. If you are buying from a dealership, ensure the particulars of the vehicle are correct before signing any order. Once you have signed the order you are locked into that purchase and there may be cost associated with changing or cancelling the order.