Buying a new car is about more than just negotiating a price

Here are some tips to guide you through the process.

Get ready to buy

  • Start by writing down what you want so you can’t be talked into something you don’t need or want.
  • Always get a firm, written 'on-the-road' price or change over figure (if trading in).
  • Shop around as many dealers as possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk up deals you’ve been offered elsewhere.
  • Keep notes of what is on offer so you can judge the best deal and include the details in the contract when it comes time to sign up.
  • Don’t sign a contract or pay a deposit until you are certain the vehicle is what you want and can afford. There is no cooling off period for new car sales.
  • Read and understand the sale contract before signing. If you don't understand or agree with the contents don't sign it.

The dealer must specify all mandatory costs you pay when purchasing a vehicle. This should include the sum of:

  • The actual price of the vehicle
  • Duty
  • Dealer delivery charges
  • Any other fees that must be paid before receiving the vehicle.

Make sure you are aware of the full cost of the vehicle, including add-ons such as window tinting and rust proofing

Dealers will often offer a better price on new cars they have in stock. If you want a particular colour or specific equipment they don’t have, you may have to wait for one to be ordered and potentially pay more. You may be offered 'free' extras to encourage you to buy what they have, but don’t accept substitutes in place of what you really want.

Determining the value of your trade-in

It’s easy to focus on getting the best trade-in price possible for your old car, however, trade-in values can be manipulated.

Rather than focusing on the trade-in figure, it’s more important to look at the change-over cost (how much will it cost to get out of the old car and into the new one).

The reality is there is no "right" price for any used car. Two vehicles of the same make and model can have two different values depending on the following factors:

  • Age (year of manufacture)
  • Model (basic versus luxury)
  • General condition
  • Kilometres travelled
  • Service history
  • Post factory modifications or accessories (if applicable)
  • The perceived value of the car to the buyer and seller (market forces).

In the case of a trade-in, a key factor for the dealer will be the saleability of the trade-in.

If it’s an older model, is unpopular or otherwise undesirable, the dealer may not even want it as a trade.

Our fact sheet How much is that car worth? will give you some insight into where to look for price information and how to use it when you find it.

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.