Seven steps to buying a car

Buying a car is a big decision, here are our top seven steps to help you make the right choice.
young woman in new car

1. Identify your needs

Think about what you'll be using the car for, whether it be travelling to work in city traffic, going on off-road adventures, setting off on lots of long road trips or something else. Do you need a compact car, one with a lot of space or one for handling rough terrain?

Ensure the vehicle has enough storage space, seats, towing capacity and comfort to suit your lifestyle. Fuel efficiency is also an important factor that is often overlooked.

Gadgets are another way to upgrade your ride and enhance your experience on the road. Many newer car models now give buyers the option to include reverse parking cameras, emergency braking, blind spot assist technology and front cameras. Comfortable or heated seats, decent room and even cup holders can make the difference for those who spend a lot of their time behind the wheel.

2. Research

Once you've decided on what's best for you and your lifestyle, it's time to find a car that fits the bill.

There are so many websites that can help you find facts and stats on different types of cars. Check out the car's safety rating, fuel efficiency, additional extras, practicality, size and cost.

RACQ also offers a great range of professional car reviews which outline all the pros and cons of different makes and models so you can make a decision easier.

3. Budget

Look at your finances or speak with a lending specialist to determine your budget. Maybe your parents might chip in some money to lessen the financial burden.

Be sure to consider the ongoing car costs too.

Hidden costs can add up and being aware of exactly how much you'll need to pay can keep you ahead of the game.

4. Inspection

It is a good idea to have anyused car inspected by a qualified mechanic before you buy it. A safety certificate isn't a substitute for a comprehensive vehicle inspection. RACQ provides a range of different vehicle inspection options with discounts available for members.

Make it a priority to also get a Personal Property Security Register check to determine if there is any money owing on the vehicle from the previous owner, or if it is listed as stolen or written off.

5. Compare dealers

There's a lot of competition out there so have a look and see if you can get a better deal. Some car dealers might offer more money for trade-ins, throw in additional options or extra items, or offer discounts.

6. Important documents

Always get a copy of any contract, warranty documents and for used vehicles, the safety certificate. Make sure any promise or guarantee is in writing, and don't sign anything unless you're completely happy.

7. Insure your car before you drive away

You wouldn't buy a house without insurance, so why should your car be any different?

Shop around and do your research to find the right fit for you and your car – this can include things like whether the car is in a garage or outside.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.