When buying a car your research will make all the difference. So here are 10 tips to get you going:
1. Decide what are the fundamental requirements you have for the vehicle such as size - sedan, wagon or hatch, petrol consumption - 2, 4 or 6 cylinders ,insurance costs, two or four wheel drive, manual or automatic, seating capacity, towing capacity or roof racks. The price range you are prepared to pay for the vehicle is also an important criteria and can be argued to be the most important. So make a careful decision about the price.
2. Come up with a short list of the types of cars you're interested in and have a look at their prices both in the for sale ads online as well as on the Redbook website as this will tell you about the market values for your car. To get started you'll need to know the make and year, eg. Toyota, Corolla, 2005. Then you sort through the list to select the right model. Redbook will give you a guide to the Private Price Guide, Trade in Price Guide, Average kilometres and Price when new. The prices are based on the average condition of the car for its age. By knowing the prices you are empowered to know what is a good asking price. It also serves you well to mention you've done your research on Redbook - especially to car dealers so they think twice before trying to go for a lower price.
3. The costs of buying a car includes the car, the insurance, stamp duty and transfer costs - these do vary from state to state so make sure you check with your local authority so you know beforehand how much money you'll need to have ready. So be organised beforehand with your money when buying a car - whether that be cash, car lease, car loan or otherwise.
4. Do you need to buy a new car or would a near new car be equally as good as it certainly is a better choice financially. As soon as a new car is driven off the lot it looses thousands of dollars in shear seconds, even if you have been able to get a really good price from an eager car dealer. You can get a whole heap more car for your money by buying a near new car that has a few kilometres on for the same money or less for a brand new one. You still get the benefit of the warranty, good quality car and great condition but with the added satisfaction of getting it for a great price too. A new car looses about 40% in deprecation in the first 2 years so think carefully where you want your money to go - off to never never land with depreciation with a new car or in your pocket with a near new car?
5. A comprehensive service history is far more valuable for a pre-loved car than low kilometres. If service history books are lost then there's probably a bad reason for their disappearance - either something's happened in the car's past that they don't want to share or they wouldn't match the odometer because of speedo tampering. Simply avoid vehicles that don't have their service history books anymore.
6. As many in the market think low kilometres are valuable for a car you can find some great prices for cars that have average or a bit higher kilometers on them (remember you can find average kilometers for a car on the Redbook site). If you are going to be clocking up the kilometers with the car yourself why pay extra anyway? Regularly servicing and maintaining the car will look after the car and will help it's resale price when you come to sell it down the track. If you're only going to be doing low kilometers with the car then you'll be able to average out the high kilometers over time as well.
7. Be sure to of the resale price for your car it's really important to make sure it has the basics such as air-conditioning, power steering, power windows, central locking, cruise control (for the larger cars). Always check for air conditioning and it is working - never presume it is fitted and working so test it yourself.
8. When you are buying a car you need to know that the vendor has the legal right to sell it - if it turns out to be stolen you loose your money and the car. A horrible experience. So make sure the paperwork adds up and the documentation is the key. If the paperwork doesn't match up walk away. A genuine seller has nothing to hide whereas you need to question the motives of someone who does. So make sure that the name and address of the person selling the vehicle is the same on the registration papers, check that the engine number on the registration papers is the same as on the engine, make sure the number plates match the details on the paperwork - if it has new number plates be wary and find out why, check for financial encumbrances as they'll take ownership precedence and have a vehicle inspection by an independent and impartial assessor. These are all crucial details to go through. If in doubt, walk away. There are plenty of cars for sale.
9. From here you need to assess the car to determine what exactly you are considering buying. What is the service and repair history? Has the vehicle a Road Worthy Certificate (if applicable for your state), does it drive well, what upcoming maintenance is needed, what are the results from the condition report from an impartial third party inspection and does it fit with your requirements list? If you are happy that all the paper work is in order and want to proceed with the sale place a deposit on the car and get a receipt from the seller for the deposit. The deposit is to show your intent to buy but does not stop the vendor from selling it to someone else and returning your deposit. But if you don't pay a deposit you can't expect the vendor not to sell the car while you get the inspection and REVs done.
10. The final preparation is doing a REVs check - a Registers of Encumbered Vehicles check to ensure the vendor has the right to sell the car. If there is clear title then purchase the certificate that prevents repossession should there be a financier who didn't register their interest before the sale. If there's money owing on the car then you need to make sure you either have proof the vendor has paid out the loan (a receipt showing "Final Payment, paid in Full" is required) or you get the final pay-out figure from the seller so the financier can be paid and the seller paid the balance. You can go with the seller when they finalise the account. These are the only two ways of finalising the financial encumbancy so if the seller doesn't want to do this then walk away.
The keys to successfully buying a car are to be clear what you want and for how much and that ALL the paper work is in order. Be really careful about reregistered cars as that's where the biggest risks are. Sure, there might be simple and honest reasons but these reasons have an honest paperwork trail too. If it doesn't add up, seems too good to be true or has missing documents then let it pass and go onto the next car because there are plenty of good, honest cars available.
The Registrers of Encumbered Vehicles Websites
http://www.revs.nsw.gov.au/ services for New South Wales, ACT and Northern Territory
http://www.transport.qld.gov.au/ for Queensland
http://www.transport.sa.gov.au/ for South Australia
www.transport.tas.gov.au/regstat for Tasmania
http://www.docep.wa.gov.au/ and go to REVS for Western Australia
http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/ for Victoria