Outside of a home loan, buying a vehicle is probably the biggest financial commitment you're going to make in your life — so make it count! It's also a highly personalised choice. Some people choose fuel efficiency over anything else, while others simply have to have a specific make or motor under their hood.
But no matter what your tastes, there are certain things that every car buyer should be on the lookout for. Here's how to clue yourself up before entering the vehicle market with wallet in hand.
The right licensing
With such a big transaction, it's important to make sure you're protected as a consumer. This means making sure that the dealer you buy from is licensed. If you're buying one online or from an unlicensed individual, you may not have legal protection to help you out if the sale goes awry, or the product turns out to be faulty.
A licensed vendor is obliged to give you your rights, and can be liable if something goes wrong. What's more, they have to disclose all relevant information about any damage the car has sustained if it's used, as well as money owing on it — but more on that later.
A better deal than the price tag
One thing you can often do, especially if a vendor understands that you're serious about buying, is price negotiation. A seller is always going to try and make as much as possible, which begins with a healthy price tag. If you do your research on both similar vehicles and the quality of the one you're interested in, you might be able to haggle your way down to a fantastic deal.
This is true whether you're going to a dealership or an unlicensed individual!
While the number of people dying on Australian roads each year is trending downwards, there were still 1156 fatalities nationwide in 2014. It's important to do everything you can to minimise the risks, and this begins before you even buy a car.
Getting a vehicle checked out for all safety features is crucial. Don't settle for something sub-standard that could put you at risk! Also, it's important to do your homework on car insurance and costs to make sure you and your car are covered before you drive.
That the numbers match up
Another thing you have to be careful about when buying a car, particularly in a private transaction, is the mileage covered. Ask for a service history on a vehicle, and make sure the numbers on the odometer match up with what is recorded in these documents.
If they don't, then the books may be cooked — and you could be dealing with a dishonest trader!
Finance options that suit you
If you have your eye on a particular car and are certain that it's the one for you, then a car loan is going to be the next step. There are many options available to you, from more regular borrowing setups to balloon payments, where you pay less over the loan term and then a large amount at the very end.
Make sure you have a savings account balance that can handle a deposit, and as always, shop around. By comparing and contrasting different products you can see exactly what a certain loan is going to do (or fail to do) for you.