If you follow me on instagram you may be aware I recently purchased my first new car. I am thrilled with my purchase not only because I now have an air-conditioned vehicle again but also because there is a real sense of satisfaction and achievement at what an undertaking it was.
I’m not sure about other twenty-something-year-olds, but I was fortunate enough to never have to worry about my first car. It was a hand-me-down (and a beloved hand-me-down at that) from Mum. A cute little Daewoo Nubira. The deal? Learn to drive manual and the car is yours. It was a no brainer. That was 7 years ago, back when Daewoo had only just stopped production. Fast-forward 7 years and despite a broken air-conditioner and a few dings I still loved my car. It was my baby. Then of course the hailstorm hit, leaving me with no back windshield and an exterior that looked like a golf ball. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back or back windshield to be precise. It wasn’t so much that I wanted a new car (I am still struggling to let go of ‘Zenny’, my Daewoo) but that I now needed a new car.
The past few months have been a blur, filled with car related Google searches, phone calls, appointments, test drives and comparisons. I’m exhausted but I’ve certainly learnt a lot. So if anyone else out there is looking to purchase a new car, here are my nuggets of insight:
1. Ask yourself
What is it that you’re looking for? Start with the motivation behind why you’re purchasing a new car. What size do you need? Is price point, safety, aesthetics or brand important to you? Are you looking for new or second hand? Will you finance part of it or pay in full? When it came to making sure I was asking all the right questions of myself I found this article on comparethemarket.com.au (yes the Meerkat ad) super helpful.
2. Do your research and make a shortlist
Once you’ve settled on what you want, compare apples with apples – make sure you’re researching cars within the same range i.e. compare small cars with other small cars or small-mediums with small-mediums. Otherwise you’ll end up with far too many options and start to confuse yourself. Trust me. I found that articles on caradvice.com.au were incredibly valuable when it came to comparing cars in the same class. They also helped flesh out cars that weren’t even worth considering.
3. Test drive, test drive, test drive
This point doesn’t need much elaboration. In the end I drove 7 cars from 5 different dealers to find the right one. Some were terrible; others downright terrifying and some just didn’t feel right. From Volkswagen Golf’s and Jetta’s to Mazda 2’s and 3’s to the Ford Fiesta (although if the timing had been right I could have tried my luck at a test drive in this…the new Mustang features are insane). It’s a big investment; so make sure you feel 100% comfortable – make sure you’re confident with the gears, press all the buttons, open all the doors and check what fuel it takes (don’t assume it’s standard unleaded).
4. Understand your situation
Know what your finance options are before going into a dealer so you can be assertive from the moment you walk in the door. Will you purchase the car outright yourself or fund it through a financial provider? (My last post on financial management tips outlines the reasons as to why you should shop around).
5. Don’t EVER feel pressured
When it comes to the hard sell, car dealer salesman can be pretty ruthless. They will pull out all stops and try every trick in the book to get your signature on a contract before you walk out the door. Don’t fall for it and listen to what your inner voice is telling you. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, walk away. You’re the one in control and once you start to feel cornered, head for the door. It’s your money they’re after and in the end you have to feel 100% ready to part with it. I dealt with a lovely salesman in the end (after several truly douche-y ones) and it was in part his service that made me want to buy the car.
When it came to crunch time the car I chose ticked all the boxes. A 7-year unlimited warranty (hence why I wanted to purchase new and not used), a 5-star safety rating, super-cute exterior and all at the right price point. So when it drove like a dream (and when I say dream I just mean it felt most like my beloved Daewoo) it was the final piece of the puzzle…that I am both very relieved and gratified to have completed.
If anyone has any car-buying experiences (good or bad) they’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!