Taking The Wheel – 7 Things To Remember When Buying Your First Car

The pure joy and excitement of sliding into the seat of one’s first car, is without parallel.  It is the time you truly become an independent adult, no longer needing to wait for mum or dad to pick you up.  No longer picking up your date on the back of a push bike.

Taking The Wheel - 7 Things To Remember When Buying Your First Car

Chances are you have worked hard to build up a good deposit so the importance of putting thought into the car buying process is imperative to ensure you don’t end up with a gas guzzling, lemon.

Loan logistics

The majority of first car buyers will be shackled to a strict budget, requiring assistance through a car loan. Car financing options can vary greatly in cost and flexibility.

To simplify the process, approach a reputable industry name such as Latitude Financial.  Finance for a new car from Latitude Finance will give you better rates than the Big 4 banks along with a flexible repayment schedule.

Budget building

In the total cost of a motor vehicle you need to factor in government charges like stamp duty and other on road costs.  Insurance premiums for drivers under 25 are generally higher also.  The cost of all these extra charges can add up as we can see with the approximate costs (based on Victoria) below:

  • Transfer fee – $20 – 40
  • Motor vehicle duty – $8.40 per $200 of the market value or part thereof
  • Registration – $800
  • Insurance – $1,200 – 2,600 per year

Whether setting a budget or applying for a car loan, it is advisable to factor these fees and charges into your loan amount.

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Research realities

There are a number of checks you can carry out online to ensure the vehicle you are considering purchasing hasn’t been stolen or written off.  Begin with an organisation such as VicRoad or the relevant body in your state.  From there you can find out details such as:

  • If the vehicle has been ‘written off’ in an accident
  • Confirm ownership
  • Finance status
  • Registration details
  • Outstanding fines

Other valuable information surrounding a car model can be sourced through websites such as Redbook which give unbiased, fact-based profiles of most car models.  Details include fuel type, economy, expected sale prices both new and used and safety ratings.

Using Redbook you can get a clear idea of the options and upgrades available for each model along with an understanding of the fair market price you can expect to pay. This also gives you a basis to negotiate from.

Short list

Take a walk through some car yards and browse online sites car sales websites to hone down what you can afford and what you want, to a short list.  Having a clear idea of the car you are looking for can prevent getting side tracked by a bargain or being talked around by a slick salesman.

Testing times

One of the perks of car hunting is being able to take a few different cars for a spin to compare.  A car which seems easy to handle and a good ride may suddenly seem much less so, after it has been compare to several others.  In a new car consider:

  • What you will be carrying and using the car for
  • Maneuverability
  • Turning arc
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Accessibility and space
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If considering a used car, things to look for such as knocking when turning the wheel.  Look inside the boot and under mats for signs of rust.  Only purchase cars which have RWC (roadworthy certificate) unless you are a budding mechanic looking for a project.

A roadworthy certificate is not a guarantee that a car is mechanically sound, so it pays to have a mechanic with you when you inspect a vehicle.  There are many issues which can be hidden under the hood of a car which will cost thousands to rectify but can be missed on a quick test drive.

Accept advice

Most of us know someone who has some mechanical knowledge and superior negotiating smarts.  Do a Google search to find local mechanics who can be hired to provide a thorough inspection of a vehicle and give you a full report.  It is highly recommended that you take advantage of one of these services as it can save a great deal of grief down the track.

Question time

If purchasing a secondhand car from a private seller, ask whether they are the owner and check any documentation to confirm this.  Enquire whether the car has had mechanical issues, been in an accident etc. Discover whether they have a genuine reason for selling.  Ask to see the RWC and check the expiry date on it.

Since the first car rolled off the production line, history has been littered with stories of people being burnt in the car buying process.  Do your due diligence, listen to and take advice from more experienced heads and take your time. Get it right and before you know it you will be sliding in to the seat of your very own car to enjoy many years of safe motoring.

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Post Author: Johnny R

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