Whether it’s the first, second, third – ok, you get the idea – time that you’ve bought a car, mistakes can still be made during the buying process.

Often the thrill of buying a car can be peppered with disappointment when reality really sets in and the perfect vehicle turns out to be one big disaster.

What do you really need and want?

When you’re first considering a vehicle, think about why you need it, what you’ll be using it for and what you can afford. Cars usually come with add-ons, such as alloy wheels, audio systems etc. which will raise the asking price. But, if you’re already stretching the budget, don’t fall for all the extra upgrades. Keep in mind what it is that you actually need as upgrades are usually the ‘nice to haves’ and generally only those with bigger budgets can afford to be distracted by what they want over what they need.

What’s the actual cost?

There’s more than just the purchase price. Most can afford to buy a car, but for some it’s not until it’s too late that they realise they don’t have enough money to keep it on the road.

Buyers should be mindful of the continued costs that they will incur when owing a vehicle. Annual WoF inspections legally have to be done, but cars should also be regularly serviced, and it pays to be prepared for unexpected, costly repair and replacement bills as well.

Then there’s the cost of insurance. 

In some countries, such as the UK, it’s illegal to drive a car without any insurance. However, we all know that the rules in New Zealand are slightly different. We’d recommend getting at least third party insurance as it doesn’t matter how experienced someone is at driving, accidents can still happen.

First time or younger buyers need to be particularly careful when it comes to insurance. Check that a company will insure you on the car you’re interested in buying first, especially if you’re looking at performance cars, as they may consider you as too high risk and you could be refused a policy with them.

Insurance companies will want to know key points about a vehicle, such as engine capacity, and whether there have been any modifications. If you buy a car that has any of these features, bear in mind that it will increase the price of your insurance.

Don’t go it alone

Often, the biggest mistake that car buyers can make is doing the whole process on their own.  When you go looking at vehicles bring a friend or family member along who also owns their own car. You may be surprised about how much more someone else knows that you don’t.  Some of us are even lucky enough to know someone with mechanical knowledge, so that becomes particularly handy when you’re in the market for a new set of wheels.

Remember, you can always look to the professionals just before you hand over any cash. A pre purchase mechanical inspection is one of the few tools you have available to help prevent yourself from buying a lemon.

Under confident buyers should always ask for help and advice from the right people. Try and avoid being distracted by the ‘nice to have’ features on cars as they aren’t always what you need and you could save yourself some money by opting out from them.  Also look further than just the asking price. Think about the costs that come with owning that vehicle and you’ll be prepared for almost anything that’s thrown your way.

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