RateCity’s Sally Tindall has four great tips for buying a car. Picture: Supplied
RateCity’s Sally Tindall has four great tips for buying a car. Picture: Supplied

What you need to know about buying a car

Whether it's a new or used car, there are so many factors to consider when you're buying a fresh set of wheels.

From the type of car you're after, the make, the model, the style - and the finance to help you get your dream vehicle.

Sally Tindall, director of research, content and public relations at RateCity, shares her best tips on how to make your next car purchase as smooth and uncomplicated as possible.


The first thing to do is separate facts from fantasy. If what you "want" is at odds with what you can afford, reconcile that at the start. The last thing you want is a depreciating asset you can't afford. When you've narrowed down the options, get advice from friends, read online reviews and ask your mechanic for advice. It's also a good time to look at what your old car is worth. If you drive it into a dealership without having checked its value, you'll be on the back foot before you've even set eyes on your new car.


These days there's an abundance of ways to finance a new car - from novated leases to low-interest finance deals. The one rule of thumb is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Comparison sites such as RateCity can be a good port of call to help you find a low-cost lender. Be sure to read the fine print on any option you take out.


For many people, a car is an emotional purchase rather than a financial one, which doesn't put you in good stead when it's time to negotiate. To mitigate this, get quotes from two or three different dealers. That will help you haggle on price.


Car dealers often work towards end-of-month quotas, so if you stroll in right on deadline, you could luck out with a better-than-average deal. End-of-plate sales can also reap juicy discounts. This means the car is stamped with a manufacturing date the year before, but the discount is likely to make up for this difference.