Tips on buying a car

Buying a car can be stressful. It’s a major purchase, often tens of thousands of dollars. Value for money, reliability and affordable running costs are high on the list.

If it’s time for you to update or upgrade your car, here’s some tips to help steer you in the right direction.

Do your research

When you’re ready to buy, try not to let the process be rushed. Take the time to do your research so you’re leaving nothing to chance and not making snap decisions.

Before you set foot in a car yard, pull this information together to help get you on the right track:

  • how much you can afford to pay
  • what kind of driving you do and a suitable car (4WD, sedan, ute)
  • how many seats you need
  • what make and model you prefer
  • personal preferences for accessories and features like reversing cameras
  • if you want an automatic or manual model
  • background on market prices and reviews.

Do your research online, and ask family and friends for recommendations. You could also try talking to your mechanic – they have hands-on knowledge of the best and worst cars to service and repair.

Get a pre-approved loan

Try to avoid loans from car dealerships – their interest rates are usually much higher than a car loan from a bank or credit union. You’ll also have much less power to negotiate on price if you’re relying on credit being approved through the car dealership.

The best option is to walk into the car yard armed with a pre-approved loan. This means you have a set maximum amount to spend, and more clout when it comes to getting the best price.

Shop around

Do your homework and check out cars ads online to get a sense of market rates and what your money should buy. When you do start visiting car yards, go in armed with knowledge of how much the car you want should cost. Be prepared for the process to take time – you’ll need to visit more than one dealership to get a good idea of what’s available.

Think about insurance

When you’re working out your car budget, don’t forget to include insurance costs. Insurance is an essential cost when owning a car, so do your research on the types of insurance available:

  • comprehensive insurance
  • third party fire and theft
  • third party

Visit the QBANK insurance portal (backed by QBE) for a quick quote.

Always test drive the car

This sounds like a no-brainer, but some people let their excitement take over and skip this obvious but essential part of the car buying process. Don’t let that be you, OK? Check:

  • how the car sounds and feel when it idles
  • the view from the windscreen and all the mirrors
  • all the knobs and buttons to see if they work and are user friendly
  • when driving, how it handles the road, and how it brakes
  • front and back seat comfort and roominess
  • power and gear changes – stay safe but try and put the car through its paces.

Get a second opinion

When you’re buying a used car, try and get another opinion. You can:

  • take it to your mechanic for a check – they will know what to look for (this can help the price negotiation too)
  • take an experienced friend or relative along with you – if they’ve done it before, they’ll have good idea what to look out for.

QBANK tip: It’s good practice to log onto the Personal Properties Security Register (PPSR) to make sure that there’s no money owing on the car. This is an Australian Government site that charges a small fee to run the checks on your car.

Buy what you can afford

Top tips to stay within your means:

  • remember a car isn’t an investment – it’s a capital purchase you make to meet a need. Keep that in mind and buy what you can afford
  • try to wait until your current car is paid off before you buy another one
  • ​when you finish paying off your car, try to put your loan repayment amount into a separate account for a year. If you were paying $400 a month, that’s a $4800 cash deposit on your next car.

Your consumer rights

Sellers and manufacturers must not mislead you about a vehicle’s make, price, quality, fuel consumption or performance. When you buy a car in Australia, it comes with guarantees it will work and do what you expect. If a business fails to deliver any of these guarantees, you have consumer rights for:

  • repair, replacement or refund
  • cancelling a service
  • compensation for damages and loss.

Visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for more information.

QBANK car buying service

If it all seems a little daunting, you’re not alone. We can help with our free car buying service.

Available to all our members, you can get help with:

  • finding the car you want at the right price – we have a huge network of car dealers to choose from and we do the haggling for you
  • working out all the details like accessories, upgrades and delivery
  • negotiating a trade-in price for your existing vehicle.

Here to help

Every step of buying a new car, we’ve got you covered with:

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