Buying a new car checklist

29 Apr 2022

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In the market for a new car? Before you put the pedal to the metal, planning out your purchase can save you time, stress and pressure on your back pocket. Here you’ll find a checklist of the necessary items to consider before receiving the keys to your new car.

Budgeting is key

One of the most important aspects to consider before purchasing a new car is budget. It’s easy to get drawn in by shiny rims, sleek paint and a plethora of features new cars offer, but chasing the likes of a Mercedes on a Toyota budget is a recipe for disaster. By starting with an honest assessment of your current financial position, you can determine how much money you are able to comfortably put towards purchasing a new car. At the very least, you’ll have a clear picture of where you stand in the market, which will help you in the process of researching, shortlisting and negotiating the best possible price for your new car.

Research the market

Planning your budget is not without researching the new car market. Diving into the new car market through a number of resources available across the internet, provides an overarching view of the segment. This is a key starting point in whittling down a list of preferred manufacturers and models.

If you’re unsure of where to start, reading reviews of new car that pique your interest in is a great way to understand the price, features on offer, practicality and ultimately how it stacks up against its competitors. By researching the new car market you may uncover makes and models you may not have initially considered.

Upcoming replacements or updates

When you’re at the point that you have narrowed down your new car options to a couple of contenders, it’s important to check for any significant updates coming in the next few months or whether that specific model is set to be phased out.

Typically, year-to-year updates are relatively superficial, offering some small aesthetic tweaks or some added interior features, however, waiting it out for a new generation can prove one of the best decisions you’ll make. This is due to the fact that a completely new generation of vehicle often introduces a number of extremely important updates. New engines with improved fuel economy, new chassis technologies, entertainment and comfort features and even safety equipment are just some of the usual ins often associated with a new generation of vehicle.

Identifying what features are important to you

The important thing to remember here is that not all car features are created equal, and avoiding the urge to step higher up into the range can save you thousands on some potentially superficial upgrades.

The best way to navigate the loud, crowded world of trim levels and features is to take a look at a vehicle’s entire range, and get an understanding of what’s on offer in the entry-level vehicle, and which features are on offer as you upgrade. Of course, you are the best judge of which features you need from your next car, so take a look at spec sheets and make sure your bases are covered in the model you’re looking at.

Navigating pricing

It’s important to remain realistic when talking price with a car salesperson as new cars have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price that they will take into account. The aim as a buyer is to reach a price that reflects the best savings for you on on the dealers price, while still providing the seller with an incentive to sell the vehicle to you. As they have inventory to manage as well as their own business overheads, they have an opportunity cost which they factor in to each negotiation.

If you intend to purchase a new car from a dealership, consider adopting the ‘three dealership rule' where you pick a convenient weekend to visit at least three different dealerships in your area – never just one. Obtain a written quote from each for a new car and pick the lowest. Then proceed back to the other dealers and ask if they can beat it.

End of financial year or plate clearances

As manufacturers introduce new and updated models to their range, dealerships will generally offer significant discounts on a previous year’s model simply to remove old and accommodate new stock. One of the simple ways you can get the best price on your next car is to keep an eye open for plate clearance deals, which are often in the first few months of the year. During plate clearances, drive-away prices are often significantly cheaper when compared to its replacement, in spite of the fact they’re often identical vehicles. For this simple reason, being aware of upcoming plate clearance sales is one of the easiest ways to purchase a new car potentially for a fraction of the cost.

Ongoing costs

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of negotiating a purchase price for a new car under the bright lights of a car dealership, yet it’s important to factor in ongoing costs. These include running costs, maintenance and servicing fees, insurance and even repairs.

Extended Warranties, Prepaid & Capped Price Servicing

Once the negotiation phase is out of the way, you’re nearing the final turn on your race to a bargain. But before you finish that race, it’s time to consider long-term ownership programs, which can vary dramatically from manufacturer to manufacturer. These can also be used as potential bargaining chips in your negotiations, too, if the dealer remains firm on the price of a car, but you will only continue with the transaction if they can throw in some added ownership perks.

Financing

If you don’t have a large chunk of savings set aside purely for the purchase of a new car, you may consider finance options to help you get the keys to your new wheels in your hands faster. When looking for a new car with finance, it’s important to consider your deposit, interest rate and comparison rate to determine the true cost of the new car over the life of the loan.

To take the guess work out of navigating banks and lenders in conjunction with your financial position, our team of car brokers can help you find a great deal on a car loan sooner rather than later.

Pre-approval

When it comes to financing your car, typically you don’t need to obtain bank or lender pre-approval, yet it can be a handy tool to have on your side when buying a new car. Pre-approval can simplify the car buying process if you aren’t buying the car outright, as it provides two purposes:

  • It can give you an idea of how much a lender is willing to lend you before you start buying a car; and
  • It can shorten the car loan application process, as a lender will already know if you’re trustworthy as a borrower.

In the process of applying for a car loan, you give the car loan broker approval to check your credit history, including your current credit score, to give them an idea of your applicability for a car loan.

Once you’ve been pre-approved, the next step is to purchase your new car. This can be achieved either through a dealership, auction or a private seller - the lender will just need to know this information as once the purchase of the car has been approved, your lender will then contact the seller to get an invoice for the vehicle.

The lender will then perform a final assessment of the purchase, and give you final approval, at which point you will need to sign and return a copy of the loan contract. Once this is done, the lender will pay the funds to the dealership or seller directly and then you can drive away in a new car.

Final word

Purchasing a new car is an exciting time, particularly if you are upgrading an old faithful that has withstood all life has thrown at it. However, it’s important to not go gung-ho in your search for a new car and to consider a number of factors at play before signing on the dotted line to receive your new keys. Research and plan your budget out before purchasing a new car, to ensure you aren’t extending yourself beyond your financial means. Factor in features you require and whether or not the price of the car is reflective of all you require.

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