Finding the Drive – 6 Steps Toward Perfecting the Car-Buying Process

As anyone who has ever purchased a lemon can tell you, the process of car buying can be like dating – for long term happiness, choices should be more than a whim based on an attractive body shape…

With that in mind, we have honed down the most important factors which go into buying the perfect vehicle for your now and for your future.

Finance freedom 

The cost of financing through a car yard can be notoriously expensive.  This is in part due to the fact that many people haven’t prepared their finance in advance. Finding yourself at the mercy of onsite finance people looking to profit from impulsive buyers, can be costly.

Sorting your loan through an independent finance company like Latitude Financial can save you a substantial chunk of money over the life of the loan.  Car finance from Latitude also gives you flexibility to tailor a payment plan to suit your budget and lifestyle.

If purchasing new, beware of ‘upselling’ of aftermarket products such as window tinting and rust proofing.  Sales people can often pressure you into purchasing things you don’t need, at an inflated cost.

Lifestyle logic

If you are thinking of starting a family or already have a gaggle of children, then a little sports car may not be for you.  Similarly, if the family has grown and gone, this may be the time to buy that convertible you have always longed for.

Consider the needs of your family both now and in the future.  Some pertinent questions which may need asking are:

  • Will this car fulfil my needs in five years time?
  • How will it fit in my garage or carport?
  • Will it be easy to park?
  • Will it hold its resale value?
  • What / who do I need to transport on a regular basis?

Turning green

With the rising cost of petrol, the shift to Hybrid and electric vehicles has finally taken hold in the mainstream market.  Lowered running costs in the long term as well as dropping price tags and an increase in  charging points, is driving the move away from petrol cars.

As these technologies become more refined and buyers move away from fossil fuels, it may be worth purchasing an environmentally responsible vehicle, to futureproof your investment.

Reading, research and recommendations 

Anyone who has been stung by costly car servicing will tell you that researching to find the best warranties and servicing offers can be a true money saving experience.  Capped price servicing and extended warranties or free servicing for the first five years, are offers which are commonly available through some car manufacturers.

It pays to be aware that many European brands will cost upwards of a thousand dollars for a standard service.  If something does go wrong with them you can expect the cost of parts and labour to be astronomical – even on simple items.

The best place to find unbiased advice on a particular model is to ask someone who already owns one.  They can give you a clear understanding of the maintenance and ongoing costs of running a vehicle along with any issues or drawbacks they may have encountered.

Test and compare

If purchasing a secondhand vehicle, take along a knowledgeable and trustworthy friend or car buying consultant and ask plenty of questions.  Check for:

  • oil leaks
  • ‘Clunking’ when the steering wheel is on tight lock
  • Engine temperature running hot – this may indicate a cracked head (an expensive fix!)
  • Signs of body repairs – if the car has been in a major accident it can cause a multitude of issues
  • Signs of rust
  • Excessive mileage (kilometres)

A car history report can be accessed through VicRoads or similar agencies.  It will provide details regarding the car including whether it has ever been ‘written off’ due to an accident or identify whether it has been stolen.

Fine print

Before signing on the dotted line – read what you are signing.  If a used car dealer or seller is offering a warranty or parts insurance, ensure you understand exactly what these cover.  Often warranties and insurances sold through dealers offer limited protection.

Through a little preparation and research you can ensure that your car buying experience is both positive and fruitful.  To get the best value from a car, it is advisable to own it for 4+ years.  Making the right vehicle choice means your new car should remain a viable and profitable purchase for years to come.

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