5 Things you should know before purchasing your first car


Hello, dear year 12!

With the end of the year coming, exams lining up in your schedules, and the stress at its peak, this is the time when you get to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While we can support you all through the year, it’s after exams that we are not there to provide support anymore, and the end of Year 12 is often synonymous with big changes such as the entrance to Uni, first jobs for many and a few lucky ones already have their license. For those, we created this little guide inspired by this forum which helps you make a more educated decision when it comes to choosing your first car.

  • Second-hand or new? What is the option best tailored for you

When buying a car, it is worth considering what is best tailored to your budget. Some budgets allow you to buy a car new, but often second-hand is the only option available. Furthermore, you have to consider the running expenses each carry.

Something else to consider is that new drivers are more likely to get into accidents than veteran drivers, thus factoring in the car’s safety rating as well as the price and availability of replacement parts is a major element too.

  • Consider the recurring expenses

Recurring expenses on vehicles can very quickly ramp up to exorbitant prices if they are not taken care of adequately. Those expenses can include but are not limited to maintenance, insurance, rego, and petrol. A hidden cost to factor in, especially when buying new, is the depreciation that the car undergoes throughout its lifetime. Finally, it is best to always keep in mind that anything can happen and no matter how well the vehicle is looked after, unexpected costs can come up when parts break unexpectedly. This is why it is best to buy a vehicle that is cheaper but leaves you with enough to fix it if the car unexpectedly breaks.

  • Conduct thorough research

No car is perfect, and this statement will remain true for as long as technology progresses. In the quest for the perfect first car, it is primordial to look at reviews to get an idea of what the known reliability issues are with each particular car model. Indeed, as cheap as that perfect car seems to be on your favorite sell and swap platform, it might be due for serious work and it might turn out to be a car more expensive than your dream car. Furthermore, doing good research can guide you on how much sellers generally ask for it. If a car seems to be way over or way under the price it usually is sold for, this is an indication for you to ask the relevant questions to the seller.

  • Find an adequate car financing/loan

When buying a car, you have access to a broad range of options. Make sure to explore the full extent of those options as they can range from loans or payment plans through the dealership with interest-free periods or inclusions. Make sure to not limit yourself to financing through the dealership though, options such as personal loans through the bank might cost less as interest rates might be more interesting for you

Regardless, pick the option that is most suited for your situation, because there are several factors to take into account. Some of those are the repayment period, the amount you have to repay each period of time, and what interest the financing option carries. Finally, consider also simply saving up for a little longer as this is almost guaranteed to cost you less in the long run, as you will be saving yourself any overhead from loans or payment plans.

  • Size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it

Buying a car is not an ego contest. Each car is tailored for a specific use, and this is what should determine which car you get. For example, heavy snorkeled 4WD are good for the outback, but you will have a very hard time finding parking around the city area. Ask yourself and honestly answer the following question: “What am I going to use this car for? Do I really need *some feature the car has*”. This is the only way you can decide whether you should take that small car made for the city or the obnoxious 4WD with the LED bar at the top.

  • Get the help of a professional

Finally, if you plan on buying a car second-hand, it is recommended to get the help of a mechanic to have a look around the car first. A trusted mechanic will be able to tell you if they can see any expensive repair or maintenance needed for the car soon, and they will give you an idea of how much this will cost you down the road. According to their advice, negotiate the price to reflect the costs that are coming up, or change your mind if the costs are deemed to be too high.
Importantly for this point, try to find someone other than the owner’s recommended mechanic. Chances are that they know the owner and they might not give you an impartial inspection, omitting details that the owner would prefer to be overlooked.

In conclusion, as exciting as buying your first car is, it is best to not rush it and be ready for the right car. Do not hesitate to reach out to our team if any of this advice isn’t clear, many of us went through this already and we will be able to support our students with any extra-curricular event they might be worried about