Car buying tips

The questions you need to ask when buying a car

Regardless of whether you are buying your first car, a bigger car or your dream car, you want a good deal. It pays to consider all the factors and approach the process with the knowledge to help you secure a good car for a fair price.

When you are buying a car, take some time to consider the following tips:

Know your budget (and stick to it)

Before you even start looking, you need to figure out your budget. Setting a price range will help narrow and direct your search.

When figuring out what you can afford, you should factor in the ongoing costs of maintaining a car such as insurance, registration and servicing. Buying second hand gives you the luxury of choosing from an endless variety of makes and models but may involve higher maintenance costs. When buying new, choose which features are worth paying for and factor in the faster depreciation rate of new cars.

If you need a car loan, always have pre-approval before you start shopping around too.

Assess your needs and wants

Have a think about what you need from your car (e.g. size, fuel efficiency and safety ratings) and what you want from your car (e.g. sunroof, cruise control, high-end sound system). Differentiating between your needs and wants and working towards getting a good balance of ‘wants’ and ticking off your ‘needs’ will help keep you on track when searching for the best car for you.

Test-drive

It is imperative that before purchasing a car, you see how it runs. Test-driving will expose potential faults that are not visible otherwise. When driving, be conscious of how the car is performing. Is the steering wheel dragging or can you hear any suspicious noises? Try the handbrake and turn the wheel to full lock both ways. Test-driving will give you the best feel for a car before buying it.

Work out the warranty

Always familiarise yourself with the terms of a warranty. All new cars come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which covers faults for a set term. If buying used, licensed car dealers have to provide you with a statutory warranty if the car is under 10 years old and has travelled less than 160,000 kilometres. But this will only cover you for 3 months or up to 5,000 kilometres, whichever comes first. You can purchase an extended warranty from various insurers for both used and new cars, but you should figure out if the costs are worth it and the terms are fair.

Understand your loan options

If you are looking to finance your new set of wheels, there are many options available. The loan you decide upon will depend on the kind of car you hope to buy, the interest rate and terms of the loan. Here’s a list of how to choose the best car loan.

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