When buying our first car we all want it to look shiny and new – and good enough to impress our friends. It simply needs to be reliable, fuel efficient to keep running costs down and, of course, safe.
Set a budget and stick to it
How much can you afford? Do you have savings you can use, or, will you need a loan? If you need a loan, think about how much you can afford. Create a budget with all your expenses and see how much money you have left at the end of the month.
Also remember to consider running costs- fuel, warrant and rego, insurance, and maintenance.
Your bank may offer car loans or personal loans, and car finance companies are an option that a car dealer can often help with. Remember that the faster you pay off your loan, the less interest you’ll pay.
Important note: Do your homework – read all the documents carefully (or get a friend or family member to do so) and don’t sign anything that you don’t understand or don’t agree with. The golden rule is: if in doubt, get a second opinion before you commit to any finance agreement.
What kind of car do you want?
Maybe a better question is: what compromise can you meet between what you want, and your budget? Is it for use around town, or for long distances? Do you need a Ute or van for work, or do you need 4WD? Do you want something that you can DIY some repairs on and modify? Write a list of what you need, and what you are negotiable on.
Get your Google on and do some research
Have a look at the Automobile Association website. Compare the cars for running costs and reliability. Look around on TradeMe and see what kind of price you’ll be looking at paying for the kind of car you want. There’s no point in buying a cheap car that costs a heap to maintain. Also, will you buy a petrol car, or a diesel car that requires Road User Charges to be paid as well?
Now the fun part- Start looking!
Always test drive the car. If you’re tall or short, make sure you fit in the car comfortably. Listen to the engine and make sure there are no odd noises. Does it start easily, and do you enjoy driving it? If you test drive a car at a car yard you will be required to show your licence to them, so ensure you are abiding by the terms of your licence. If you’re on your restricted, take a friend or family member with their full.
At this point, the person selling the car may start to try and upsell you. Stick to your budget and remember you don’t have to buy it today. You can walk away and think about it before committing.
Get it checked
A pre-purchase inspection from AA or VINZ is vital. They will check the car for any problems and mechanical issues. They will advise if you need to consider any repairs or immediate expenses. This doesn’t mean you won’t buy the car- it just means that the price you offer may be lower. Car yards often do this for you and offer the inspection checklist to you.
If you are buying the car privately, check that there are no outstanding monies owing on it with the Personal Property Securities Register. If you buy a car with outstanding payments, it can be repossessed even though you have paid in full.
Also check on the NZ Police website to ensure the car isn’t registered as stolen.
If everything checks out OK, then you’re ready to go! But before you drive off the lot, get insurance. In New Zealand there are really two common types of insurance, third party and comprehensive ‘full’ cover. You can get a quote for either here www.state.co.nz/car-insurance