Tips for First Car Buyers

Buying your first car is an incredible time in your life. It brings with it a new found sense of freedom and the possibilities that the ownership of a car presents are boundless.

All too often people can get so caught up in the excitement of the purchase that they forget to look out for a few crucial points before committing to the sale.

Following is a short list summarising what I think are some of the more important aspects to consider when purchasing your first car:

Do Your Homework

This may seem like an obvious place to start however it is something that is often skipped over when the excitement of buying your first car kicks in. So often I speak to people after they have purchased a car on a whim from the first dealership they walked into because they had a seemingly attractive offer put in front of them that was ‘too good to miss’. A car is usually a 3 to 5 year commitment, it needs to be something that is considered carefully and researched before committing to the sale. Look at comparative makes and models, write a list of features you want the vehicle to have, research how much each car will cost to own and live with, look at the cost of insurance. Remember, once the initial cost of the car has been taken care of, you still have to put fuel in it, insure it, have it serviced, and have it repaired when things go wrong.

Also once you have decided on a make and model, don’t just buy the first one that you see. Drive a few, shop around, gather prices, and make an informed decision.

Don’t Believe Everything You’re Told

Especially when purchasing a used car either privately or from a dealer. Unfortunately the person you are talking to is trying to make a sale more than anything else, this may lead to them being not 100% truthful when it comes to disclosing the things you need to know about the car you are considering purchasing. Don’t just believe what you want to hear because that is generally exactly what you are going to be told. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. As pointed out above, do your own research. Get independent mechanical inspections done on any vehicle you are considering. Get detailed information on the previous owners of the vehicle if you are buying used. Know what you are getting yourself into, don’t just close your eyes and hope it will all be ok.

Know Your Numbers

Again such a basic tip but something so often ignored. First car buyers are usually younger and just starting out in the world and it is so important that they don’t over commit themselves and realise later that they can’t afford it.

Sit down with a pen and paper and work out exactly how much you can allocate per month to the owning and running of a car. Know how much you need for fuel, rego, insurance etc, and don’t go over your budget.

That way when you are negotiating the purchase of your car, you will know when to simply walk away from the deal.

There is nothing worse than buying the car of your dreams only to end up resenting the car a couple of months later because it has crippled you financially.

Get Independent Financial Advice

If you are borrowing money to buy the car, get some independent financial advice from someone other than the dealership selling the car. Unfortunately the dealer’s main interest is in securing the sale and making as much money from it as possible, this will generally include a hard upsell on finance and insurance. While this can be ok if you know exactly how to read a finance contract and what all the fine print says, usually it pays to talk to a finance expert who is independent of the dealership. Not only will they have your best interests at heart as they are not trying to sell you a car, they will often have access to a much wider range of lenders than what the dealer can offer; insuring you get the best deal.

Talk To Other Owners

Forget the shiny brochures and sales hype for a second, talk to a few people who have actually lived with the car you are about to buy.

Nothing explains the intricacies of a vehicle more than a current or previous owner. All the little foibles a car can have that may be conveniently not mentioned during the sales process, will be spoken about in great detail by someone who has had to deal with them on a daily basis.

Usually the best way of getting in touch with owners is simply to put it on facebook that you are thinking of buying this car and does anyone know someone who has one.

Consider The Safety Features

Unfortunately it is a fact that teenagers and P Platers are more likely to crash into stuff than any other driver on the road. It is important to consider the safety features of the vehicle you are buying.

Buyer a newer car may be more expensive however it will have safety features that an older second hand vehicle won’t be able to come anywhere close to. In no particular order you should be looking for ABS Breaks, many airbags, traction control, power steering, good quality seat belts, electronic stability control, and a 5- star safety rating.


Apply these basic principles when buying your first car and you should get yourself into something that is going to serve you well for many years to come, be fun to drive, and most importantly be safe.