Buying a car: a buyer's checklist
If you’re thinking about purchasing a new or used car, there are a few things you should consider first, before you drive away with your new set of wheels.
☑ Decide if you are going to buy a new or used car
With no accident or service history, new cars can offer peace of mind but they will usually cost more and depreciate faster than comparable used cars.
Learn more about buying a new car .
Used cars can be significantly cheaper, but they come with more risk. A good service history and a pre-purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic can help put your mind at ease.
Learn more about buying a used car.
☑ Set your budget
When setting your budget, remember to think about other purchase costs, such as stamp duty and costs associated with running your vehicle. Visit the MoneySmart website for tips on how to work out the cost of buying and running your car.
☑ Define your needs and do your research
Identify your specific needs and preferences in terms of the car's size, features, fuel efficiency, performance, safety, and any other factors that matter to you. Conduct thorough research on different car models that fit your criteria. Consider factors such as reliability, safety ratings, resale value, and customer reviews.
☑ Perform some pre-purchase checks
This may include checking the service history by reading through the logbook, assessing the condition of the car and arranging an inspection with an independent mechanic.
Learn more about pre-purchase checks. [link to pre-purchase checks page]
☑Check the Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)
When purchasing a used vehicle, check it hasn't been previously written-off, stolen, or has any outstanding debts through a $2 PPSR search using the vehicle identification number (VIN) which is a 17 character unique identifier located in the owner’s manual or stamped on the driver’s side door. You can access the PPSR Check online or by calling 1300 007 777. Note: Unauthorised websites link back to this address and charge much more.
☑ Take it for a test drive
Schedule a test drive of the car to assess its performance, handling, comfort, and features. Pay attention to any unusual sounds or issues during the test drive.
☑ Check your car warranty and ACL rights
Most new and used vehicles purchased from a licensed dealer in Australia are covered by a manufacturer's warranty if it is new, or statutory warranty if it is second-hand and it meets certain conditions.
Australian Consumer Law (ACL) consumer guarantees applies to all vehicles purchased from a trader/dealer. The ACL does not cover vehicles bought through private sales.
☑ Understand that there is no cooling-off period
Currently, there is no 'cooling-off' period for vehicle contracts in Western Australia, although you may withdraw from a contract any time before the dealer signs the contract. If you need to cancel a contract to buy a vehicle after the dealer has signed it, you may be asked to pay ‘pre-estimated liquidated damages’ (PELD). The maximum amount of PELD a dealer can charge is five per cent of the total purchase price. Find out more information on cancelling a contract to buy a vehicle with a dealer.
☑ Arrange finance
Explore financing options and compare interest rates from different lenders. It is a good idea to get pre-approved for a loan to have a clear idea of your budget and bargaining power.
☑ Insure your new car
Before you drive your car home, you should get it insured. More advice on insurance is available on MoneySmart’s choosing car insurance.
☑ Complete the purchase
A dealer will usually provide you with all the necessary documentation to complete your purchase. In most cases, they’ll give you an 'Offer to Purchase' or 'Contract to Buy a Motor Vehicle' document. Don’t sign anything until you’re sure you are ready to purchase because these documents can be legally binding and there is no cooling off period.
If you buy from a private seller, you need to complete transfer of ownership paperwork to make the sale official. For more information see Transport WA’s buy, sell or transfer a vehicle.
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