Ok, so you’ve made the decision – you’re buying a new car! And you’ve seen some great ones out there, either new or second hand – what now?

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EFTM has teamed up with our mates at People’s Choice Credit Union to take you through this big purchase with some hints and tips.

1/ Finding the right car

Well of course we’d like to think you’ve found the ideal car from reading some of the great reviews right here at EFTM – but let’s face it, we haven’t driven every car!  So – no matter what you’re looking for, take advantage of the many websites out there for searching.

Car Sales websites can help you locate great used cars, and also give you a sense of what different variants are available across the models from each of the big car companies.

Be sure to narrow down your search, simple things like an automatic or manual transmission can make a big difference to the price.  Understand the options available and consider which ones you most want on your new car.

2/ Test it and check it

If it’s a new car – get yourself to the nearest dealer and tell them you are a serious buyer.  But make sure they know you’re looking around at various different cars.  You don’t want to be pushed into buying on the first day.

Get a road test – it’s a few minutes around the block but those first minutes will give you a great feel for the comfort of the ride and the layout of the vehicle.

Return the keys and grab the business card of the salesperson – walk away – don’t be an impulse buyer.

If it’s a used car – make the call, find out the location of the owner and arrange to head out to meet them.

This is the most awkward situation you might encounter – next you want to ask them for a test drive – you’re taking their car for a drive – how can they trust you?  Normally you’ll have left your own car with them in their driveway – so it’s normally a pretty fair trade.  If they want some assurances, let them take your driver’s licence details, and confirm your active mobile number with them.

In a used car the test is a little more important.  Turn the radio on, make sure its basic functions work, but after that, keep it off, and listen out for the noise the car itself is making.  Listen for rattles and shakes, or unusual bumps along the way.

If you like it, you really need to get a mechanical test.  Your state motoring service can probably offer these, and it will cost you – so consider that when you get to that final price negotiation

Finally, use government operated services like REVS to check the car has no outstanding finance on the vehicle – it’s not theirs to sell if there is bank-owed money on it.

3/ What’s the price?

For new cars, you can do this a few ways.  Firstly the face-to-face haggle.  Talk to the dealer, see what their best price offer is.  Try not to let floor mats and window tinting be the things you accept to pay the price they want.  Tinting can be done any time – anywhere, and floor mats are easy to buy.  Get a genuine best offer, and walk away.

Another tip is to hold off until close to the end of the calendar month.  Because of the way car dealers finance their car stock, it’s possible you’re doing them a favour by clearing the stock.  Use this to your advantage, offer to take a car, colour and configuration that they have on the lot ready to go – it could just save you real dollars.

Finally, look at new car pricing sites like BidMyCar - they allow you to enter the details of the car you want, and your request is sent to dealers who make you a best offer.  It takes the hassle out of haggling, and the dealers take the request seriously because you’re a serious buyer.

If you’ve found a used car you like, check the value of the car at redbook.com.au – and compare that to the price on offer.  Also take the time to browse similar vehicles on sale on the internet.  In the end, it’s the seller’s decision.  Start low and work your way up – pick your highest number and stick to it.  Don’t overpay – there’s always another deal.

4/ How will you pay for it?

How did the bank balance look last time you took some cash out? If there’s enough cash then hey, go buy it!

But like most of us, you’re probably going to need finance, most likely in the form of a personal loan.

Here’s a few tips to help with this process:

  • Firstly, work out how much you can afford. There’s no point getting excited about the car you’ve just test-driven if you can’t afford it.
  • Secondly do your homework on the personal loans in the market. There are plenty of websites out there to help you compare apples with apples like Mozo, InfoChoice and RateCity.
  • Thirdly, as silly as it sounds, get your paperwork sorted. Find out exactly what paperwork your chosen lender needs from you and have it on hand when you apply. The more organised you are at this point, the sooner you can get your loan approved and the sooner you can drive off in your new car – this can be especially important if you’re looking at a private sale car.
  • Lastly, you might want to consider getting your loan pre-approved with your chosen lender. Often knowing how much you can borrow before you go car hunting can give you better bargaining power at the dealers or make your offer to a private seller more appealing.

5/ The exchange or delivery

Buying a dealer new car is a great experience, they treat you well, give you a tour of the car and you drive right out of the showroom.

A used car is a little more complex.  This is a legal transaction.  You need to check with your state motor registry to confirm just the right process.  Basically it should involve the current owner signing over the registration papers to you, including listing the price.

Check those documents thoroughly before accepting the key and handing over the cash

If you’ve financed the car, you’ll probably need to confirm the seller is ok with a bank cheque in their name.

Drive away – and enjoy.

This post is written in collaboration with People’s Choice Credit Union.

And of course – Terms and Conditions apply to any product you consider.

Photo: Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andyroo64/)

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