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Short Guide to Buying Your First Car

Posted on 30 July 2018

Short Guide to Buying Your First Car

If you’re buying your first car, then you’re probably facing a few decisions and managing a tight budget. Here’s our quick guide to choosing the right vehicle for you – helpful tips to avoid being swayed by the car with the flashiest paint job and then finding you can’t afford to run it.

Your first car is an exciting purchase. It’s probably the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and offers not just a set of wheels but also a leap of independence. It’s not easy to make such a momentous step a practical one: but if you think about your purchase practically you’ll benefit from a winning combination of affordability and value for money.

Work out the ideal car for you
Firstly, it’s important to take into consideration just what you will be using the car for and what this means in terms of function and size. Your car needs to meet your needs in order to provide the best value for money.

For example, if you’re going to be going off-road then you’ll need to consider options for four-wheel drive. Or if you surf you might like to consider where you’re going to fit your surfboard and gear. Similarly, if you’re just looking for something to run around town you can probably focus on a smaller more manoeuvrable model.

Work out your budget
When you set your budget to buy a car it’s easy to feel you have a good pile of cash to play with. But you also have some set up costs to take into consideration if you want to go from making a purchase to actually driving your car.

You’ll also need to factor in the running costs of the car in relation to the budget you have for fuel and day-to-day expenses. If you don’t plan ahead for costs like registration and servicing, then you could discover that you can’t afford to keep your car on the road.

Being aware of potential costs makes it possible to work out what you can afford to buy with the money you have to play with. This will help you narrow down your choices and find the right make and model of car for you.

Running costs
It’s easy to be tempted by the flashiest model of car available for your budget, but it’s much more important to look for fuel efficiency and lower running costs. Choosing a reliable and safe model of car is likely to pay off in the long run.

Fuel consumption figures by make and model are readily available online. Work out your monthly fuel budget and expected mileage, and then do some rough calculations to check out what you can afford.

Maintenance costs
Choosing a cheaper car now can end up being a more expensive deal if you’re forced to spend a fortune on parts and servicing. There are some straightforward choices you can make to ensure you don’t invest in a car that’s going to become a financial burden.

Looking for a car with lower mileage can keep your maintenance costs down. Cars with over 300,000km on the clock are likely to be tired and ready to give up the ghost. Cars with over 180,000km are likely to have ongoing maintenance costs due to their age and the distance travelled. Ideally try to choose a car with mileage of less than 180,000 km in order to manage your running costs in the future.

When you do choose a car you should always get it fully inspected: inspection is important for understanding the general state of the engine and the brake performance. It can protect you from any hidden and costly surprises. Inspection will also allow you to check out when high cost maintenance like cambelt replacement needs to happen.

On-road costs
You also need to factor in the on-road costs such as warrant of fitness, registration and servicing. The car you buy should have a current warrant of fitness but it’s important to be aware of when this will be renewed and the cost of doing it. You may need to register the car if it’s due, and it will be important to service it regularly to look after the engine.

Insurance
Your car has to be insured in order to protect both you and the other users on the road. There are different levels of insurance and it will vary in cost depending on the car you choose. One of our team will be happy to talk you through the options, you can find the number at your closest branch HERE. The cost of insurance will need to be factored into your budget whether you pay upfront or in instalments.

Now that you’ve worked out key elements like mileage, fuel consumption, and potential insurance costs, you can work within these boundaries to find your first car.

Choosing a first car is an exciting process and will give you your independence, allowing you to get to yourself on the road and to where you want to go. By planning ahead and being practical about the purchase, you can ensure your money goes a long way. Some smart decisions can protect you from more cost in the long run and make sure you make a good investment for the longer term. Then you can just sit back and enjoy the drive.

If you’re getting ready to go car shopping and would like to talk your car loan options, give the team a call. You can find their numbers HERE. We’ve helped thousands of Kiwis get on the road by providing them with a car loan that works with their budget.

Please note, this article does not represent personal financial advice.