To avoid making a disastrous decision,
1. Be clear on what the vehicle is for
If you’re not going off-road, don’t look at off-roader vehicles – no matter how exciting those 4WD ads are.
If you need to fit the family, make sure the car can actually fit the family – comfortably. Some cars may have 3 seats in the back but they really only fit 3 smaller children or 2 adults.
Will you need to regularly pick up your children’s friends or take your parents somewhere? If so, consider a SUV with 7 or more seats.
Will you be carrying adult passengers? Sit in the back yourself to see how comfortable your passengers will be.
Is the boot space big enough for your bags when you go on a trip or going to the airport?
2. Do your research
Your decision on the right car for you, needs to start with research from the experts. Go online to see and read what the experts and car owners have to say. Reading different reviews will give a good sense of what the car is really like.
Advice from friends is fine, so long as you can tell the difference between what they prefer for themselves and what is best for you.
Your research should include comfort, reliability, common problems, cost of maintenance and insurance as well as future values.
After you’ve identified a short list of cars, test drive them at a dealership, where you can ask more questions.
3. Arrange pre-approved finance
By the time you’ve started looking for a car, your emotions are already involved. To avoid disappointment, get your finance approved first. The application is easy to do with a quick response and once approved, you can then choose the vehicle you want with confidence.
Remember, finance pre-approval does not commit you to anything. It’s just a confirmation that you can finance the car when you are ready to proceed.
4. Determine your budget
Whatever your budget, allow a buffer so if unexpected expenses occur, it’s more easily managed and you can avoid the stress of trying to pay for the additional expense.
Some additional expenses can include an insurance excess and the earlier replacement of tyres than planned. Also, as vehicles age, higher expenses should be expected.
5. Test-drive the car
You need to test drive the car to make sure it feels right for you. A great look will not compensate for a sore back (or bottom) if the seats don’t feel right.
You’ll never know how noisy or quiet a car is on the highway unless you drive it on the highway. See how well it goes up steep hills and test the brakes and see how quickly it stops – but not with other cars around.
Don’t let inspirational car ads or an individual feature be the main reason you want the car.
6. Take a long drive
If you usually spend a long time in a car, a short test drive won’t be of much help. Arrange for a longer test drive and if necessary, hire a car for a day or weekend and hit the road. The investment will pay off. A few hours is a small price to pay.
Remember – Almost any new car will seem great after driving an old car.
The alternative is regretting the decision for years. A wrong decision is only made worse by being reminded for the next few years.
7. Don’t be fooled by fixed price dealer servicing
These deals can sound attractive. And it’s true, the first few services are usually cheaper. However, the servicing costs increase over time, so what you save at the beginning will be made up for later – when you are used to going to the dealer and not checking the costs.
Also keep in mind that the fixed price servicing only refers to ‘scheduled’ servicing, like changing the oil – it doesn’t include any ‘unscheduled’ servicing like brake pads or unexpected repairs.
8. Consider Insurance Protections
Several Insurance options are available to you. They all provide a ‘protection’ for you and your car. As always, you’ll need to decide on the suitability of each one to you.
There is a lot more to insurance coverage than the price. To assist, we’ll go through each with you to ensure you and your car are protected.
9. DO NOT COMPROMISE SAFETY
No one plans on an accident, but if one were to happen, you want your family and friends, and of course, you, to be safe. Look carefully at the car’s safety ratings and results. Read the online reviews.
Novated Leasing allows you to include additional safety features for a small additional cost. As a bonus, when the time comes to sell, you’ll also be able to sell your car faster with a better price. It’s usually worth including them.
Get a car inspection – As great as your ‘new to you’ car looks and as nice as the salesman was, don’t commit to anything until a 3rd party inspection has been done by someone who knows what to look for.
Check/replace – the brakes (pads & discs), the wipers and get the tyres inspected. Driving the car in traffic and/or in the rain is the wrong time to find out there is a problem.
Seatbelts – If the car has been in an accident, confirm that the seat belts that were used in a significant crash have been replaced. Seat belts along with the retractor and buckle assemblies are designed to work effectively only once.
As an example, ‘burnt oil’ tells a trained eye (& nose) you’ll need a new transmission and inside tyre wear means you’ll need a new set of tyres and alignment. For the unwary, used car costs can build up very quickly.
Speak to a tyre expert at the tyre outlets and let them know that
• safety (better grip on the road = shorter stopping distance),
• durability (long lasting) and a
• good price is important to you. Most tyre specialists are usually passionate and very knowledgeable about tyres and are keen to help you.
A good tyre can be the difference between a close call and serious injury.
Don’t assume the tyres the car came with are the best for you. The original tyre choice has more to do with the cost to the manufacturer (or previous owner) than what is best for you.
Tyre Cost – You don’t need the most expensive tyres, but avoid the cheapest. Mid-price tyres are usually about right. Ask the tyre specialist.
The thinner tyre tread means you need to replace them more often – so they may cost you more than you realise.
Would you be comfortable telling a person you are giving a ride to that you proudly bought the cheapest tyres you could find?
The great news is that with novated leasing, you share your costs with the government by deducting your salary pre-tax. So, by paying less tax, you have more cash for things you really want.