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Car & Vehicle

How to get the best deal when buying a car


The feeling you get from a new car is unbeatable. Its shiny sleekness. Its new car smell. The feeling you get the first time you pull out of the showroom. It's something everybody should get to enjoy.

So if you've got your heart set on your new toy, it's time for your head to make sure you've made the right decision. So here are a few things you should think about before you splash out.

1. Do your homework

The last thing you want to feel is buyer's remorse. So make sure you think long and hard about your choice. Because you'll have to live with it for quite some time.

Be honest with yourself about what you are looking for in a car. What are you going to use it for? Is it going to sit in your driveway all week or do you need it for work on a daily basis?

What do you need versus what do you want? Is the car you have your heart set on a practical choice?

Think about the alternatives. There might be a better option for a similar price, so check out the competition before you make your final call.

Talk to someone who owns the same model and ask them what it's like to own one.

2. Can you afford it?

The cost of servicing cars can vary dramatically between models. Imported and luxury cars can require hefty outlays just for a regular check under the bonnet.

Petrol prices are rarely out of the news, so if the car you're thinking about is a thirsty beast, make sure you have the means to drive it more than once in a while.

Insurance can also differ greatly between car models. Remember to study the options to make sure you find the insurance that fits your needs.

If you're thinking of financing the car, it will save you time getting your loan preapproved before you do the hard yards of negotiating on a car yard.

3. Sealing the deal

So now you've done the research on the model and the price you're prepared to pay, it's time to go and claim your prize.

First off, it pays to shop around. Selling cars is a highly competitive business and it's almost always a buyer's market.

Visit several dealers or look at what they offer online to get an idea of what the price range is. Let the salespeople know you are a serious buyer but you are looking around. Tell them you want their best offer and then you'll compare.

Be realistic about haggling. The dealers have to make some money too. Generally there is more wriggle room on the price of more expensive cars.

Take advantage of the best time to buy. Sales people have to meet targets, usually set quarterly or monthly, so a good time to buy is at the end of the month when they are under the pump to make their quotas. Another good time is on the eve of a new model release as dealers push hard to clear their showrooms of old stock.

4. Save your legs

If you don't have the time to look around, for a fee you can use a car-buying agent. They will do all the legwork for you and will negotiate the best deal on your behalf.

One advantage is that it takes emotion and impulse out of the process.

Bonus: Try before you buy - tips for test driving

1. Take it for a nice long test drive. Take it down narrow suburban streets and out on the motorway. How's the road noise inside the cabin?

2. Is there enough room for you and your activities?

3. Try parking in a shopping centre car park and out on the street.

4. Check how the car responds when you accelerate or brake. Cars vary significantly in terms of sensitivity and you want a car that suits your style.

5. If you have children, bring them along on the test drive. Their comfort level is important too, and their feedback will be brutally honest.

6. Make sure the view from each of the mirrors is great and you can see all dashboard gauges.

7. Use all the controls - turn on the air-conditioning, indicators, windscreen wipers, the lights, cruise control - to make sure they are simple to use and accessible while driving.

Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product

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