Buy a car
Buying your first car is exciting. It's also a big decision, so don't rush. Follow our simple steps to choose the right car for you.
Do your research
This can be the hardest part –there are so many options! Some general research will help you understand what you’re really looking for. The more you know, the easier it will be to choose the right car for you. Below are some simple things to research:
Think about what you’ll be using the car for, and how often. Write down the features you need vs those you want.
Here are some starting points:
- Automatic or manual
- Two door or four door
- Five seats or more (how many passengers will you have regularly?)
- Two wheel or four wheel drive (will you go off road?)
- Petrol, LPG, Hybrid, Electric or diesel
The safety rating of your car should be top priority. Did you know you have twice the chance of being killed or injured in a three-star car vs. a five-star car?
Visit ANCAP to get an understanding of how new car safety ratings work in Australia and to check the safety rating of the car you’re thinking of buying. We recommend buying a car that has a four or five-star ANCAP rating.
Thinking of buying second hand? The UCSR index can help you assess the safety of older cars.
When you find a car you love, the buying part can happen very quickly. So if you have an idea of what different cars are worth, you’ll feel more confident that you’re getting value for money.
Choose the right car for you
You know all the stuff–time to narrow it down and find your first car! Try keeping a clear head. Your decision should be based on your situation and research, rather than emotion.
Be realistic about your budget. This is your first car, so you might not get everything you want the first time around.
- How much money you have to spend.
- Costs on top of the purchase price (stamp duty, registration, insurance etc.).
- Where you will get more money from (finance, mum and dad, a part-time job).
Also, do you know what it costs to run the type of car you’re thinking of buying?
Once you have your budget set, it’s important to find the newest car, in the best condition, with the highest safety rating and the least kilometres. Phew – got all that?
Dealer or private
Finally, are you going to buy from a dealer or a private seller?
A dealer might give you better peace of mind (i.e. a warranty) but a privately sold used car might get you a better deal. Either way, make sure you check all the facts below.
Check the facts
You’ve found ‘the car’. It’s worth taking the time to check that everything is above board.
Check the registration papers to make sure that the owner is the seller. If the car is unlicensed you need to ask for proof that the seller has the right to sell the car.
PPSR (Personal Property Securities Register)
A PPSR check (formerly REVs) will let you know if finance is owed on the car. You don’t want to be left paying off someone else’s loan!
To do a PPSR check you will need the car’s VIN number. You can find the VIN on either the car dashboard or door latch area, and also on the registration papers.
Car history report
If you’re buying a used car off a private seller it’s a good idea to get a car history report. They’re easy to buy online and give you extra peace of mind on top of your PPSR check.
The report will tell you:
- If the car has ever been written off.
- If the car is listed as stolen.
- Known odometer readings to identify any odometer discrepancies.
- Registration details.
- Sales listing history.
Unless you’re a mechanic, we recommend a vehicle inspection. Yes, this will take time and money and involves taking the car into a workshop. But if you’re about to make a big purchase on something you’ll use every day – it’s definitely worth it.
You’ll get a full report on the car’s general condition and safety components, which a car history report doesn’t show.
Test drive & inspection
Since you’ll be the one driving it – you’re the most important critic! Take it for a test drive and check out the interior and exterior. Listen for strange noises or flashing dashboard lights and make sure you’re happy with how the car looks, feels and drives.
Print out our used car features and safety features checklists and take them along if you need a helpful reminder when you inspect the car.
If you’re buying a used car, you should also ask for the service records to check it has been regularly serviced according to the manufacturer’s schedule.
Sign on the dotted line
Ready to sign on the dotted line? Hoorah!
Make sure you get all the important paperwork sorted up front and remember to transfer ownership to your name as soon as you buy the car.
Make sure you transfer the registration by completing and lodging a change of ownership form with the Department of Transport.
When you buy a car from a dealership you should always read the contract. This is legally binding so it must be signed by someone over 18.
WA doesn’t allow a cooling off period if you decide you don’t like the car, so be 100% sure before you sign.
Whether you go with dealer finance, finance through a bank or RAC Finance, make sure you read and understand all the conditions before you sign anything.
Generally you won’t be able to get finance for a car until you’re over 18, so if mum and dad are helping you out with the loan – remind them to check all the fine details.
Receipt of payment
Keep receipts for everything, you never know when you might need them!
You've bought your first car
Here are a few quick things to check before you hit the road