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Questions to ask before you buy a new car


Alex Ritchie

Alex Ritchie


Buying a new car is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make.

You wouldn’t purchase a used car without asking the owner a few standard questions first – how long have they owned it, what is the reason for selling, what condition is it in? – and it’s no different when it comes to buying new.

Here are RateCity’s top questions to ask before you buy a new car:

What’s the fuel efficiency?

Financially savvy shoppers will need to ensure their new car has good fuel efficiency to avoid a costly weekly spend on fuel. According to Cars Guide, fuel efficiency refers to the distance you can travel on an amount of fuel. 

“Anything that is listed as less than 6-litres/100km or more than 16.5km/1-litre is considered to be pretty good.”

What is the warranty coverage?

If you experience any faults with your new car, you’ll want to know you’re covered for the replacement of faulty parts and the labour to do so. Asking your dealer about the vehicle’s warranty coverage will allow you to know for how long your dealer is obligated to fix the issue at no extra cost to yourself.

For new cars, often the manufacturer’s warranty will be two-year/40,000kms or three-year/60,000kms. The statutory warranty for new cars is also usually for 12 months/20,000kms. For additional coverage, you can also purchase extended warranties to suit your needs.

Is it good for long drives/off-road conditions?

Are you the outdoorsy type? Do you use your car for work and know you often have to make long drives? Choosing the right car for you isn’t just about the price, but also about how you will use it. If you know the car will be taking you across dirt roads every weekend, it will be best to ask your dealer how the car can handle these conditions.

Can I have a test drive?

You would never purchase a house without having first visited an inspection. The same rule applies for any car purchases. It is highly recommended you ask to test drive any car before purchasing it to have first-hand experience of how it performs and to see whether it meets your expectation.

Test vehicles are not always immediately available, so your dealer may have to schedule you for a later date. Check with your dealer about the length of time and the route of your test, as if you are looking for an off-road SUV you won’t want to test it in city conditions.

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Can I afford it?

It sounds obvious, but a surprisingly large number of people apply for finance after they’ve committed to buying a car, rather than before. The main reason you should organise your finance up front is so that you know exactly how much to spend – because it’s not uncommon for people to overestimate their borrowing capacity. As part of the research process, make sure you punch some figures into a car loan calculator. This will tell you how much you’ll have to repay under different scenarios.

Has the car been used as a demo model?

If you’re looking to save hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, it’s worth asking your dealer if they have any demo cars available.

According to Cars Guide there are several pros and cons to picking up a demo car:

Pros
  • Cheaper (always compare the price to a new model just in case)
  • Well-maintained with bugs ironed out
  • Drive away now (no waiting time)
Cons
  • Less time left on a new car warranty
  • No option to customise the car
  • Not brand new
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