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Buying a New Car Checklist

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So, you’ve finally decided to buy a new car? When considering which one to buy, it can get both exciting and overwhelming. Ideally, you want to have the “best” car in the world. Realistically, the best one--fastest, toughest, and has plenty of advanced exteriors and interior features--is impossible to afford so you would have to settle for that vehicle that will give you for your money.

To avoid buyer’s remorse, here’s a checklist of things that you should do before finally purchasing your new ride:

1. Cross-shopping

This involves doing research and reading car reviews before deciding which car to buy.

While typical research involves Googling stuff on the Internet and visiting online car marketplaces to check out a car’s price range and specs, a cross-shopper uses a wide variety of methods to find their ideal car. This includes seeking recommendations from friends and family, visiting car showrooms in several dealerships, joining discussions on online car forums and Facebook groups, and checking out customer satisfaction surveys.

Remember that when you cross-shop for a new car, you would have to spend a longer time to get all the information you need. From considering several types of vehicles, you would eventually be narrowing your vehicle selections and then you would check out dealer websites.

Only after getting enough information about your ideal car and the local market trends should you visit showrooms to avoid being swayed by charismatic salespeople into buying a vehicle that won’t give you the most benefits.

2. Car Features Inspection

When checking out your prospective car, make sure to have a good look at its exterior and interior features. Your judgement would be based on your preference and lifestyle. For instance, if you’re looking for an affordable car for city driving, you’d likely favour a stylish-looking hatch or sedan with an advanced infotainment system. If you’re a tradie, on the other hand, you’d likely go for a ute with a large tray.

Pay special attention to the following features:


  • Overall Appearance - Do you find it appealing? Do you think you can show it off to your family, friends, and colleagues?
  • Colour - Does the car come in the colour of your choice? How much more would you pay to get the shade you want?
  • Wheels - Are they alloy for faster acceleration or steel for towing and offroading?
  • Boot - How spacious and accessible is it?
  • Spare Tyre - Is it full-size or a space saver?
  • Fuel Cap - Where is it located? Does it lock?
  • Doors - How accessible are they to you and your regular passengers?
  • Lights - Are they halogen or brighter, longer-lasting LED?
  • Running Boards - Does the car have them?


  • Accessibility - Is it easy to get in and out of the car?
  • Visibility - Can the driver see sufficiently in all directions? Is the line of sight clear?
  • Comfort - Are the seats comfortable and adjustable? Does the car have good climate control? Are there infotainment features to keep everyone entertained while on the road?
  • Roominess - Does the car provides sufficient head room, elbow room, and legroom for the driver and the passengers?
  • Dashboard Layout - Are they easy to operate from the driver’s sear?
  • Cup Holders - Where are they located? Are there enough of them to accommodate all passengers?
  • Storage - Does the car have plenty of storage spaces for keeping and hiding stuff?
  • Glove Box - How big is it? Is it lockable?

3. Checking the Extra Features

Most modern cars have plenty of gadgets for improved safety and the driving experience. Generally, however, these extra features increase the total price of the car so you’ll need to make sure that these additional improvements are essential for you or not.

These extra features include:

  • Touchscreen Infotainment Systems
  • Satellite Navigation System
  • Rear-view Parking Assist Cameras
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Sound system
  • Rearview camera
  • Bluetooth capability

Some extra features are standard while others are optional and cost extra. Consider how much you’re willing to spend on them; Make sure you only pay for the things you need.

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4. Test-driving

Taking the vehicle for a test drive allows you to assess the car’s performance on the road.

During this process, you would have the chance to assess the car’s maneuverability as you drive along pavements, around bends and curves, crowded streets and vacuous highways, smooth and rugged terrains.

You will get a real-life understanding of the car’s:

  • Handling - Does the steering feel too heavy or too light?
  • Smoothness - Does the car get noisy and unstable on bumpy roads?
  • Cabin Comfort - Are there outside noises, like wind shear and tyre squeal, that you can hear while inside the cabin?
  • Braking System - Does the car stop quickly with a minimum braking distance? Is the emergency brake easy to access?
  • Acceleration - Does the car accelerate quickly and smoothly?

You would also know if any extra features are working according to their marketing claims.

5. Price Negotiation

Negotiating the price of the car can be tough, but you should not skip this process because it allows you to get the best possible price for the vehicle. Don’t be afraid to drive down the price; Car dealers expect that haggling will be a part of the buying process for most buyers.

Some questions you should consider when negotiating are:

  • Is the price affordable or expensive compared to other cars you’ve test-driven?
  • What features are included as standard?
  • How long is the warranty period and roadside assistance?

6. Paperwork Signing

Once you’ve struck a deal with the salesperson, the next step is signing the paperwork and finding finance that suits your needs. Always read the full terms and conditions of the contract of sale, warranty, and any finance contracts.

It is also important to consider all your finance options, not just the financing offered by the dealership. Car dealers are experts on cars, but that doesn’t mean that they’re finance experts. There are often fewer loan options if you choose to finance from the dealership, and it may not suit your needs as well as other finance options.

That’s why you should identify the loan features that are important to you. That way your loan will have everything you need and you won’t pay for anything you don’t need. Some optional car loan features to consider are:

  • Early payout – Some loans do not allow you to pay off the loan early or will charge extra fees for doing so. You may want the option to pay off your loan early if your circumstances change in the future.
  • Secured or unsecured – Car loans that use the car as security for the loan often have a lower interest rate than unsecured loans; however, they are often less flexible as well. Choosing a secured or unsecured loan will often be a matter of preference.
  • GAP insurance – This covers the difference between the value of the car, which is covered by regular insurance, and the amount still owing on the car loan.

The car you are considering may not meet your satisfaction in one or two areas of the new car checklist above. If so, ask yourself how important those features are to you. If they are problems that may cause you to regret your purchase, do not buy the car. There are hundreds of cars for sale at any given time. You may be able to find one that better meets your needs.

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