How to buy a car
Get clued up on car buying
Us girls can feel quite daunted when buying a car. How do we know if we're paying the right price? Is the car really as mechanically sound as the seller's saying? The list goes on. Here are some hints and tips for the girls when buying a car.
Find out what the fair price is
Don't get ripped off. After you've decided on a particular car or general style, check out redbook.com.au to see what the general fair price of the car is.
Don't get intimidated by car dealers
Don't let snazzy sales pitches and tactics blind your eyes when it comes to buying a car. Always be firm and stand your ground – take a friend with you to keep you grounded and level-headed. Ask the dealer about the price, warranty, hidden costs, if they accept trade-ins (if you want to use your current car as 'cash') and for a decent test drive – we can't stress this enough. Make sure you try before you buy.
Negotiate a price
It's unfortunate but buying a car can be like playing poker. Be careful how you act – how do you want to play the game? Acting too eager and 'in love' with a car can send messages to the seller that they've 'got you' and that they can basically jack up the price and hard-sell you. Then on the other hand, if you don't act eager at all, then maybe they'll sell it to someone who loves it more. Sellers often bump up the price thinking that you'll try barter it down.
As for brand-spanking new cars, they'll often have a standard RRP (recommended retail price). However, some dealerships may have special deals on so shop around. You're pretty much set to trot with a new car, mechanics- and condition-wise, but make sure you ask about warranties, any extra deals they may have going on (e.g. roadside assistance, insurance, etc.) and any hidden costs (e.g. some charge around $300 for metallic paint, etc.).
Consider the factors that affect a used car's value
Find out the following and bargain the price accordingly...
* How many kilometres has it done?
* How many services has it had (ask for service history records)?
* How much registration does it have left?
* Is there any damage to the car?
* Are the mechanics in good order? Is there anything that needs to be fixed?
Get it checked
Get the car checked by the NRMA (NSW), RACV (VIC) or other equivalent in your state. They'll inspect the car and give you a condition report. You can then take this back to the seller and use it to negotiate the price. If you don't want to get this, ask a mechanic to check over it and do some basic checks yourself (e.g. are all the lights, windows and locks working? Does the car get hot too quickly? Is there lots of smoke coming out the exhaust, etc.?).
Investigate its history
Is it stolen? Does it have any outstanding debts on it? Do a security check by calling your state's transport authority (e.g. RTA in NSW, Vic Roads in VIC, etc.) and quoting the car's VIN number, car model and year, rego number, engine number and the state where it was last registered. You can also get a check done at www.checkitout.com.au – an online initiative by Transport Queensland.
Inspect it on delivery/pick-up
Before you sign for the delivery or pick-up of your new car, inspect it in broad daylight to make sure:
* There are no dents and scratches, etc. that weren't there before
* It's exactly as it is explained in any written contracts you may have signed
* That the odometer number (how many kilometres is has done) is reasonable to when you bought it
* Everything is working like before (e.g. lights, electric windows, locks, etc.)
* There's a car manual, service book, jack and spare tyre somewhere
* Make sure the appropriate paperwork has been done (contact the car authority in your state for details of what is required).
For more tips and tricks, see our Buy a Car section.