New driver and mum with L plate
Tips & tricks

Buying your first car

You’ve done the work and saved up for your first car, congratulations! For a lot of people it’s exciting and daunting all at once. There are a lot of things to think about and we know it can be confusing so we’ve put together some hints and tips to help you get on your way.

Take your time

It’s important not to rush into making a decision. First impressions aren’t everything and your dream car isn’t always the right first car for you. If you aren’t sure, take more time to think about your purchase or take someone along for a second opinion. Don’t sign a contract or agree to buy until you’re sure it’s the right decision.

Safety star rating

Safety can be a confusing topic. It’s not as fun as picking a paint color, but if it’s not at the top of your list, it should be.

It's essential that your new car offers you and your passengers good protection in the event of a crash. An ANCAP rating is the best way to check how safe a car is and it only takes a couple of minutes to do a quick search on the website. The more stars (up to five) a car gets the safer it is.

If you are buying a used car then may be a better guide for safety. You should always get a car with the highest safety rating that you can afford.  

Service history

A car's service history will tell you if it’s been serviced regularly and if it's had anything mechanically wrong with it in the past.

If you’re buying through a private sale it's also worth checking the number plate on the Tasmanian Transport website. This means you can check the vehicle's registration status, the engine number and if the vehicle has been stolen or written off. You should also check the Personal Properties Security Register (PPSR) to make sure the car has no money owing on it to another financier and that it hasn't been been re-registered after previously being a repairable write-off off. This will cost you two dollars, but it could save you a lot of money in the long run.

If you want a trusted mechanic to give it a once-over, we can help with that. Our team at AutoServe offers vehicle inspections and if you’re a member with us you’ll get a 20% discount! We can do the history reports for you and check to make sure everything is working as it should be. This means you’ll know where you stand and can negotiate a better deal with the seller. 

Look and feel

It’s time to jump into the car and see how it feels. Set it up as if you're about to take a long drive. Is it comfortable for you? Does it have all the features you need? Is there enough boot space for that summer road trip? Or perhaps it’s a bit big to park in the city every day?

You should also check the inside and the outside of the vehicle thoroughly. These are some of the things you should be looking out for:

The car's body:

  • There’s no sign of accident or rust damage

  • There’s no sign of hail damage

  • There are no dents or damage to the car

  • The door and boot seals are intact

  • There are no chips or variations in the paint

The car's interior:

  • The seatbelt shows no signs of wear and tear

  • The lights inside the car work properly

  • The electronics, including the air conditioning, the audio and the windows, are working

  • The upholstery is in good condition

The car's exterior:

  • You’ve taken note of the engine VIN and body number

  • You’ve checked the exterior of the engine

  • You’ve checked the engine oil and the radiator coolant

On the test drive:

You should never buy a car without test driving it first. It could also be a good idea to take a parent or knowledgeable friend along with you. These are some things to look out for on the drive.

  • The gears are smooth and can be moved quickly

  • The engine power is appropriate to the car’s size

  • The car tracks and brakes steadily and in a straight line

  • The electronics and dials work as they should

  • The temperature dials don't show any signs of overheating

  • The speedometer is functioning and displays your speed accurately

  • There's no irregular engine noise

  • You’ve checked the suspension and the transmission

  • You’ve checked the brakes and the exhaust

Seal the deal

Congratulations! Your new car has passed all the tests and you can’t wait to get it home. But before you do, you’ll have to do some paperwork. If you’ve taken out a loan or you have contracts to sign with a dealership be sure to read them carefully and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Look out for any extra fees and charges that you mightn't be aware of or signing up for extras without doing your research first.

Make sure it’s insured from the start, don’t wait until you get it home. As soon as you know the cars details and have made the purchase organise your insurance. Tip: If you’ve financed the car with us you’ll need comprehensive insurance.