You’ve finally reached the point in your life when you’re ready to own a car. It could be your first one or it’s been a while since you bought one and  probably need to replace your old car with a new one. However, you should know that a car doesn’t come cheap.

Apart from the amount you’ll pay upfront to own one, there is the ongoing maintenance, registration and insurance cannot be overlooked. That’s why you need to plan ahead first. If you woke up in the morning and just decided to get a car, you should reconsider your decision. A rushed, spontaneous decision is unlikely to end well and could turn out to be a costly mistake.

On the other hand, if you’ve done some serious thinking and are sure you’re ready for it, here are some things you should know before buying your first car.

1. Do Some Saving First

If you’re fresh out of uni with a lot of debt and minimal savings, paying for a car in cash may not be your first choice. This is what financial professionals recommend. No matter what your needs are, saving for your car is something that you will need to commit to. If you decide to add funds to your savings by borrowing ensure you don’t borrow beyond your means.

Okay, importantly make a budget and stick to it. Your budget should help you decide what type of car you can afford to buy. Not the other way around, where the car you might want to buy but may not be able to afford dictates your budget.  A limited budget may put buying a new car out of your reach. Buying a car that’s already been used maybe a more affordable option. You can take advantage of depreciation, something a new car takes a big hit on as soon as it leaves the showroom floor. This also opens the options of being to able to buy in the private sellers market not just at a car dealership. It widens the pool of cars available to you that will fall into your budget and make it easier and convenient to find one that suits you.

Consulting with car buying advocate or car broker can help you to simplify your options as they understand the market, the common car finance options and all the car jargon!

2. Research as Much as You Can

Researching is one of the sure ways to get your dream car. Understanding which car is bested suited to your needs, within your budget that includes ongoing costs, is the first step in picking the right car.

In order to find the make and model that is most suitable, you have to think about what you are going to be using it for, and decide what things are the most important. Listing out all your considerations, criteria and prioritise your needs until you are choosing between the most important features and don’t let your emotions cloud your decision making process. You can then confidently start by writing down a list of the vehicles that you’d like to have that best match your criteria.

Next, go online and compare their prices. Don’t settle for a single site. Carsales, Gumtree and Carsguide are a few you can expose yourself to and widen cost options available.

Research also helps you discover what reviewers and owners think of various models of car your considering. It helps you gain knowledge and make a better car buying decision. Looking beyond a glossy brochure rather relying on opinions about real world reliability, drivability, fuel efficiency will hopefully avoid you choosing and buying a potential lemon of a car.

After identifying a car with a price that works for you, check your credit score. You may want to apply for a loan. Are you pre-approved for it?

3. Always Test-Drive Before Buying

Most people get so blown-away by cars that they buy them without trying them out first. The consequences are dire, especially if it’s a used car.

The worst part is that once you’ve made the purchase, it’s almost impossible to demand your money back.

As you test-drive, think about and checkout the important features and must haves you have decided on. Is the car going to suit your daily and weekend driving needs? Is its boots capacity big enough for your carrying needs? Is the car powerful or economical enough? Is the vision, comfort and ease of driving what you expected? Is the car noisier than you thought or harder to drive and park? Does all the infotainment features work easily and function properly? Are the seats comfortable? Focus on the hip-, head- and legroom as well. These are a few of the things you shouldn’t ignore.

4. Negotiate

Negotiation is a great way to show that you know what you want. A car salesperson is most likely to take advantage of you if you don’t put your research into practice. Being well prepared, understanding the market prices of similar selling cars with your features, age and kilometres driven, puts you in a strong position to negotiate. It makes you better informed to recognise a good deal. It puts you in a good position not to be taken advantage of by sellers, whether private or a dealer. Also recognising when something is not a good deal and to be able to walk away. There are always plenty of other cars that will become available that will be the right one.

Patience, being well researched and recognising when the right car comes up is the benefit of knowing your market. When negotiating, pick a price that works for you and allows the salesperson or seller some benefit too. If it’s a fair price for both parties it will more likely end with a successful outcome.

5. Be Realistic

Apart from putting the cost of the vehicle into consideration, determine if it matches your lifestyle. For example, as a first time buyer you may keep your car for a longer time. Will it fit your changing demands and requirements over the course of ownership? Purchasing a sports car when you go regularly camping, going off road or towing just won’t make sense.

What’s more, fancy vehicles with large engines are likely to have additional features that carry reliability risks. Add this to the high cost of fuel and you’ll realize that it’s not what you need as a first-time car buyer.

6. Take Your Time When Reading the Contract

No matter where you’ve bought the car from, after everything else is done, the least you can do is read the contract carefully.

Are the dealer warranties offered the same as a factory warranty? Does it cover the same things, are there exclusions? Do you have to service it exclusively at on dealership? How often does the car have to be serviced to maintain the warranty? Is there a cooling off period for the contract? Does the purchase price include all on road costs? Is the final price a drive away price?

If your buying from a private seller, is the seller the registered owner of the car? Check all the things the seller claims the car has for sale, all the fancy options, the servicing history, repairs receipts and the odometer reading before you sign anything. Has the car been written off previously? Has it got finance owing on it? Did it have a full service history? Does it come with a Road Worthy Certificate?

Read it twice or more if that’s what it takes for you to understand everything in it. Remember, the Contract of Sale, it’s a binding agreement between you and the seller. And, the sale is made after you sign on the dotted line.

My Next Car Buying Advocacy

Whether you’re in the market for your first car or are replacing a vehicle you have owned for years, for car buying support, you can always rely on My Next Car Buying Advocacy. We help car buyers from all Melbourne metropolitan areas so that they always end up with the right car at the right price.

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