Buying a car for the first time can be difficult, and it can be tempting to buy the first shiny one you see. But a few checks now can save you a lot of money down the track. Do your research. Have a look around and find the type of car that best suits your needs. You don’t want a car that guzzles fuel if you're on a tight budget. If you’re on your Ls or Ps, you’ll need to make sure the car doesn’t exceed any restrictions that apply to you.

Before you buy

Figure out how much you’ll need

After researching what car you want, trying to find one within your budget can be tough. You’ll want a bargain, but you don’t want to sacrifice safety or be hit by long term costs for short term gain. If you don’t have quite enough saved, our free2go car loans page will help you understand all things loan related.

Get a PPSR check

Before you hand over your hard earned cash, make sure you get a Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) car history check.  This will reveal if your vehicle is debt-free and safe from repossession.  

Bring someone along who knows a bit about cars

If you don’t trust your own knowledge, bring along someone who knows what they’re doing. You could also get a vehicle inspection from RACQ that will provide a comprehensive report on the condition of the car, as well as any repairs that may be required in the near future.

Take the car for a test drive

Make sure you take the car for a decent test drive over a range of different road conditions and speeds to ensure it drives and feels right. Before test driving any car, know who is liable if any accident or incident were to occur during the test drive. If you have to take financial responsibility you will need to decide if you're prepared to accept the risk. If a private seller refuses to let you test drive a car, walk away. There are plenty of cars on the market and it simply isn’t worth the risk.

Check the service history

If you can find a car that has a complete service history with it, then you’ll have a better idea what it's been through and what work has been done. But regardless of the service history getting a full vehicle inspection before purchasing will help identify any underlying issues or big expenses that might be just around the corner. 

Are there any illegal modifications?

It can be extremely difficult to identify illegal modifications so the best bet is to ensure you have a Vehicle Inspection done on any vehicle you are keen to buy. You could be fined if your car has illegal modifications, the car could be impounded, and it could affect your ability to insure the car.

Get insured

Before you drive away in your new set of wheels, make sure you’re insured. Many insurance companies will provide you with a cover note which gives you a short term policy so you are covered as you drive home. It also allows you to shop around for your preferred insurance cover. For more information, check out our Car Insurance page. 

Do your paperwork

If you are buying privately, you'll need to submit the following documents to the Department of Transport and Main Roads within 14 days of purchase:

  • Vehicle Transfer Form
  • Safety Certificate
  • Vehicle registration duty and transfer fee (determined by your car’s fuel type and number of cylinders)
  • If you buy from a dealer, they will lodge the documents with DTMR