Buyer’s remorse – that feeling of regret after a rush purchase has been made – is something we hear about from our Members relatively frequently. Impulse decisions to splash out on a car, despite those niggling doubts in the back of the mind, can often come back to haunt us - and it’s not a sentiment that’s solely experienced by first time buyers. We can all fall foul of following our heart, rather than our head.

How to avoid car buyer’s remorse:

1. Check the car meets your needs

Before you shell out on any vehicle, do the relevant checks and make sure you’re comfortable that it meets your requirements. If the car is nearby, give it a test drive. Take a route that you’re likely to be using it on. If it’s going to be used for the school run, pack the kids in the backseat and do a mock run. If it’s to tow the trailer, make sure you check it handles well when loaded up.

2. Check its history and value

It’s particularly easy to get sucked in to a great price being advertised online, or be swept up by a cost-saving offer when you’re passing by a dealership. Research its value by checking the price of other similar cars on the market. Identify its servicing history and when it last had its Warrant of Fitness done and, if you’re still unsure, you can buy a history check online to find out whether there’s any outstanding finance on it or it has been written off in New Zealand.

3. Get a vehicle inspection

A pre purchase inspection will give you a more comprehensive idea of a car’s condition. You’ll be able to find out if there are any defects that would prevent it from passing its Warrant of Fitness, anything that needs further investigation or repair and items to keep under observation.

Returning a vehicle

If you decide that actually you don’t need the car after all, or that it doesn’t meet your needs, then there’s usually no obligation in sales and purchase agreements for a dealership to provide a full refund in return for the vehicle.

In these scenarios, it’s worth going back to the seller, cap in hand, and explaining the situation. It’s worth noting though that returning the car and exchanging it for something more suitable may mean paying a difference or renegotiating financial arrangements.

This can be even harder – if not impossible – with a private sale as there is little coverage within the Consumers Guarantees Act, but there’s nothing to stop you from approaching the original seller of the vehicle.

Buying a car that turns out to have a lot of faults can be a trickier issue to tackle. If you’ve bought the car from a dealer, it can be slightly easier to resolve as you usually have the right of repair. This means you can notify the dealer of the fault, giving them the first opportunity to make the repairs.

If you’ve been sold a vehicle from a dealer that’s not fit for purpose or you’ve been deliberately misled, you may be able to get compensation or a refund under the Consumer Guarantees Act. Depending on the seriousness of the claim, you may be able to open a case in the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal.

If you buy a car with faults from a private seller, things can be very difficult to resolve as you have few legal rights if something does go wrong.

What started out as the bargain of the century can soon end up burning a hole in your pocket. That’s why, whether you’re buying privately or from a dealer, we’d always recommend getting a vehicle inspected before you decide to buy as it can make you aware of any faults with the car, allowing you to make an informed decision about whether to invest your money.

If you do find yourself experiencing buyer’s remorse, it helps to stay calm and collected – especially if you’ve made a mistake or have been misled, as you do have options. However, to avoid this situation altogether, you can also do simple things such as a creating a shopping list when you’re thinking about buying a new car. Write down the must-haves and the things that would be nice to have as it could save you money and heartache in the long run.

For full details about consumer rights, visit the consumer protection website

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