Ready to buy a car?

Buying your first car is a big deal and probably the biggest purchase you’ve made up until now. There are so many things to think about when buying a car – price, type, size, colour, economy, age and safety are all super important. Plan ahead and do a bit of research before you hit the sales yard so you don’t get caught up in the moment.

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself:

  • When will you use your car?
  • Do you want an automatic or a manual? Can you drive a manual with the type of licence you have?
  • What’s your budget? It's good to factor in car insurance premiums and car running costs in your budget too.
  • Are you going to take out a car loan?
  • Have you done your research? Do your own car buying checks and it's worth getting the car looked over by a professional too. If you're buying privately, there is no way to ensure the car isn't stolen. But, dealers must guarantee a clear title, so this might be a safer way to go.

Deciding on the perfect car can be tricky. If you are having trouble choosing, try out the RACQ Car Comparisons tool. Once you've decided on the type of car you want check out the RACQ Car Price Guide. It'll help you negotiate a fair price, or you can use the free Car Brokerage service for Free2Go members.

Budgeting for a car

Unsure how much a car will cost down the road? Here are some things to consider:

  • Petrol: How many litres per 100km? The higher the number, the more you’ll have to spend on fuel ongoing.
  • Registration: The more cylinders the car has (eg 4, 6, 8), the more expensive it is to register.
  • Insurance: The more expensive or unusual the car, the higher the premiums. The higher the excess on the policy, the more money you will have to pay if you make a claim.
  • Maintenance: You will need to have your car serviced regularly ensure you meet your vehicle's warranty requirements and to keep it running reliably once it's out of warranty. Apart from your own maintenance, it’s important to build a relationship with a trusted mechanic. Your mechanic should keep you informed of major repairs coming up, giving you time to budget for the more expensive services.
  • Finance: There's more to finance than the monthly repayment. Many loans involve service fees and it's important to compare interest rates and the total amount repayable to make sure you get the best deal.

For more information, visit the RACQ Vehicle Running Costs Guide.

Signing the contract

Here are some tips on what to look out for from the RACQ Motoring Advisory Service:

  • When you pay a deposit, sign a contract, or even order a car - a contract is formed. This means you may be legally bound to buy that car so it pays to understand what you could be signing yourself up for.
  • A 'cooling off’ period of one business day applies when you buy a used car from a dealership in Queensland. This gives you time to change your mind.
  • If you decide you don’t want to proceed with the purchase you must notify the dealer in writing during the cooling off period, provided you haven't taken delivery of the car.
  • Never sign an incomplete contract or any document until you know the total cost it binds you to pay. Also make sure you always get a copy of any contract or document you sign.
  • Don’t sign any document to purchase a car that is ‘subject to finance being arranged’. If you sign and then find out you can’t arrange finance you could be pressured into accepting finance from the dealer at a much higher interest rate. Try to arrange your finance before you go shopping so you know how much you can spend. If you can't arrange finance beforehand, any contract you sign should be 'subject to the buyer obtaining sufficient finance from (insert the name of your financing company) to complete this purchase'.
  • Never pay a deposit or sign an order form or purchase agreement that states ‘subject to RACQ inspection’. Regardless of the outcome of the RACQ inspection, the dealer could hold you to the agreement to purchase the car. The only form of wording you should accept is ‘subject to the purchaser obtaining and being satisfied with an independent inspection of the vehicle.’ Check out RACQ vehicle inspections for peace of mind.
  • Don’t sign on the promise to repair faults.

Paying a deposit

You’ve finally found the car you want. The dealer has asked you to pay a deposit while you’re deciding on the purchase or you’re getting the car inspected. They may even want a deposit to hold the car during the ‘cooling off’ period.

  • When you decide to pay a deposit, pay the minimum amount the dealer will accept.
  • If you decide not to go ahead with the purchase during the cooling off period, the dealer is legally bound to refund your deposit, but may retain up to $100.

If you want to know more about buying a car and how RACQ can help – check out our buying and owning car guides and car reviews or for more information, read on about buying a new car or purchasing a used car.

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Banking and loan products issued by Members Banking Group Limited ABN 83 087 651 054 AFSL/Australian credit licence 241195 trading as RACQ Bank. Terms, conditions, fees, charges and lending policies apply. This information does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Read the disclosure documents for your selected product or service, including the Financial Services Guide and the Terms and Conditions, before deciding.
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