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10 tips for buying a new car

Keep these tips in mind so you can drive away with a better deal.

It’s sometimes said that car dealers can smell an uninformed customer when they walk in and will start circling them like sharks. Depending on what your local dealership is like, this might only be a slight exaggeration.

You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to be a well-informed, hard-haggling customer. Paying attention to these ten quick tips can make a real difference to your car and your wallet.

1. Buy a car at the end of the month or at the end of the financial year

Plan your purchase, but don’t sign on the dotted line until near the end of the month. Many car dealers operate on monthly sales targets and may be more likely to offer discounts and free extras around this time to help meet their targets.

You can save a lot by purchasing a car during the EOFY car sales. The automotive manufacturers and dealers offer special deals and also throw in optional extras worth thousands of dollars for free.

2. Be serious about safety

ANCAP safety ratings are no joke. These ratings determine how likely an accident is to injure or kill you, and the differences between safe and unsafe cars are enormous.

More importantly, it can also affect the cost of car insurance. If you’re after a more cost-effective drive and you want a safe vehicle, avoid settling for less than a 4- or 5-star ANCAP rating.

3. Do your homework on the car you want

Learn about your chosen car's typical drive-away price before you buy, as well as which extras are tacked on and how much these are really worth. This gives you a baseline against which to haggle and consider “free” extras.

It also lets you determine how much haggling room is left when you’re quoted a price. You probably won’t get a good deal if you don’t take this step and if you do, how would you know?

4. Know the haggling dos and don’ts

  • Do keep your expectations realistic. You probably won’t haggle much off an already-discounted price.
  • Do keep it friendly and polite. Good manners go a lot further and sometimes a deal simply comes down to how much they like you.
  • Do leave your phone number, even if you walk away. They might come back to you with a better offer.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away. If they’re not budging, find someone who will.
  • Don’t try low-balling them unless you’re ready to climb back up the price ladder.

5. Make dealers compete with each other

A lot of dealers might turn down an offer without hesitation, but would accept the very same offer when asked to match a competitor’s price. There’s always a better deal out there somewhere and dealers know it. Try to be in touch with more than one dealer before buying and let them compete for your business.

Know what car you want? A Car broker could save you money

With an established network of dealers, a car broker can source the vehicle you want and negotiate on your behalf to save you money.

6. Always do a test drive

There’s no substitute for a test drive. If you’re still deciding between different cars or models, test drive them all if possible. Never buy a new car without test driving it first.

7. Beware of unwanted extras

Dealers are always ready to generously throw in extras for free or at cost, to sweeten the deal. Think about the extras you actually want before buying and try to resist walking out with something you didn’t want.

Some of the extras you almost certainly don’t want are an extended warranty, rustproofing and paint protection. A new car already has all of these in some form and these extras are often just a sales trick.

The cost of car insurance changes a lot depending on what you’re driving. Common new cars, even the latest models, are often cheaper to insure than one would expect thanks to the availability of spare parts. Meanwhile, cars that don’t have more recent safety features such as auto braking or traction control, or cars with a poor ANCAP rating, can be considerably more expensive.

8. Check the fuel consumption

Check a car’s fuel consumption with the yellow sticker on the windscreen. This allows you to you to compare efficiency between vehicles and can give you a reasonable idea of what the car's operating costs might be.

9. Make sure all the boxes are ticked before you buy

Check off these tips before buying for better luck finding a deal, but when the pen’s in your hand and the dealer is salivating over your shoulder you should ask yourself whether you have:

  • Understood the terms and conditions. Make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for.
  • Been to multiple dealers. If you haven’t, then you’re almost certainly not getting the value you could be.
  • Know what is and isn’t included. Be certain that you aren’t paying for unwanted extras and that you won’t be missing anything.

Your new car will need CTP insurance, and if you’ll be depending on it you might want to consider comprehensive car insurance instead of one of the more basic options.

10. Compare all your loan options

If you're planning on using a car loan or other form of finance to purchase your car, it pays to do your research. You have a lot of options when it comes to car finance, so it pays to understand how they differ, and what makes a loan more competitive than another. Along with the banks, many dealers offer car loans, and it's important to compare both to find the one that bests suits your needs.

Compare car loans for buying a new car

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1 - 4 of 94
Name Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp. Rate (p.a.) Application Fee Monthly Fee Monthly Repayment - New - Variable Rate Special
Variable3 - 7 Years $5,000 - $150,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
to 7.74%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
to 8.85%
Application Fee
Monthly Fee
Monthly Repayment
Go to siteMore Info
OurMoneyMarket New Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $2,001 - $75,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
to 21.78%
Application Fee
Monthly Fee
Monthly Repayment
Go to siteMore Info
NRMA New Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $130,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
to 16.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
to 17.77%
Application Fee
Monthly Fee
Monthly Repayment
Go to siteMore Info
Note: Take out a loan for an eligible electric vehicle and receive a 1.5% discount on your personalised interest rate (interest rates start from 5.79% p.a. and comparison rates from 6.49% p.a.)
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $10,000 - $300,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
to 18%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
to 23%
Application Fee
Monthly Fee
Monthly Repayment
Go to siteMore Info
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.52% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with.
Apply for up to $300,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
Showing 4 of 4 results

Compare car insurance side-by-side and get quotes

Name Product Roadside assistance Accidental damage Storm Choice of repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: The 2024 winner of our Best Value Car Insurance award. It's cheaper than most, plus you can lower costs by adding age restrictions.

⭐ Current offer: 15% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Anyone who wants a good value policy.
Youi Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: The 2023 winner of our Best Features Car Insurance award. Plus, it's one of the only insurers to automatically include roadside assistance.

Who it might be good for: Those who want good customer service with lots of inclusions.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Covers a little more than other insurers. You don’t need to pay an excess for windscreen repairs and cover applies to anyone who uses your car.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 off your first year's comprehensive car insurance premium when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Multiple people using one car.
ROLLiN' Comprehensive
Finder's summary: One of the most cost-effective insurers for under 25s, according to Finder research, with no aged-based excess.

Who it might be good for: Young drivers looking to keep costs down and anyone who’d like to get more flexibility from their car insurance.
QBE Comprehensive
Green Company
QBE Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Our best-rated Car Insurer for Customer Satisfaction in 2021/2022 and Green Insurer for the last 3 years.

⭐ Current offer: Save $75 when you purchase a new comprehensive policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those who want a trustworthy insurer and more cover than other brands, such as 3-year new car replacement (e.g. they'll give you money for a new car for up to 3 years if yours is written off).
Bingle Comprehensive
Finder's summary: Our data shows it’s the cheapest comprehensive policy. It just covers the basics such as damage to your car, theft and storms – it doesn’t go in for add-ons and extras.

Who it might be good for: Those wanting a low-cost, no-frills policy.
Kogan Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Kogan comes with all the perks that most comprehensive car insurance policies include, but you'll also be entitled to some benefits from its online store. This usually comes in the form of a gift voucher or discount if you buy online.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 off first year premiums when you purchase Kogan Comprehensive Car Insurance online + $10 monthly credit. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Kogan shoppers and those after a good range of policy options.
Qantas Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You need car insurance so why not get one that lets you earn Qantas Points? It's good value too (it's underwritten by the same insurer as Budget Direct).

⭐ Current offer: Earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points with every Qantas Car Insurance policy you take out by 22 April. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want more bang for their buck with Qantas Points.

Image: Shutterstock

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