Buying a new car

The car is an essential part of people’s daily lives and considering the cost of new vehicles, purchasing a new one is a major decision – for most people, a car purchase comes only second to buying a home in terms of outlay. 


It’s important to ensure that when it’s time to buy a new car, you’ve done the necessary research and considered your options, which will help make sure the car you purchase suits all your needs.

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The more you know the better you buy

Buying a new car can be an overwhelming experience – there are so many options from brand, models and price point. To make an informed decision it’s recommended that you invest a few hours of time to acquire informed knowledge that will help you make the right selection. Your evaluation will lead you to a better decision, based on tangible features giving you a deeper understanding to your choice ensuring longer term satisfaction. 

What type of car do you want to buy?

The type of car you want to buy depends on your own personal taste, needs, and of course, your budget. Some of the questions you should ask include:

  • Will this be the only family car? If so, consider the practicality of the vehicle and make such that is will be suitable, practical and safe in a variety of situations and has enough seating and load space.

  • What type of driving will you be doing? If off-road you might consider an SUV or four-wheel-drive which are specifically designed to traverse unsealed roads. If it will predominantly be used in the city, you will be more interested in how easy your new car is to park and manoeuvre in traffic.  

  • How much will ongoing maintenance cost? Some new car brands and models are more expensive to maintain than others. Some manufacturers offer free scheduled servicing on new vehicles as well as fixed priced servicing. Both options can significantly differ in running costs which could be hidden in a lower purchase price. 

Automatic versus manual transmission

In recent years, Australian preferences have shifted to automatic transmissions. The latest automatic transmissions offer drivers many benefits, most notably offering better mileage through larger spread of ratios. Modern automatics achieve this through their ability to leverage between 6-10 forward gears.  

An automatic will offer a more relaxed driving experience, allowing for easier stop-starting and ability for the driver to concentrate more on the task at hand.  

Additionally, many modern automatic transmissions also provide drivers with a manual shift option either through flappy paddles or via a plus and minus slot on the transmission shifter, and this is a great feature for drivers who want additional control and a more engaging driving experience.

Of course, these features usually carry a mark-up on the manual counterparts at purchase time. This offers buyers saving opportunities if they can live without some of these luxuries.  

Petrol, diesel, electric, hybrid – what to choose?  

There are many choices to make when it comes to selecting the type of power for your new car. Petrol and diesel-powered cars are most widely available but more recently we’ve seen a growth in hybrid (petrol/electric) and even purely electric vehicle.

Below are some of the benefits and cons of each fuel type:


  • Benefits: Fuel is widely available; typically, modern diesel engines are frugal; diesel engines are known to be reliable and long lasting; diesel is the preferred fuel type when touring in rough and remote areas.
  • Cons: Some diesel-powered cars can be a little slow and noisy; diesel engines typically emit more harmful exhaust gases.


  • Benefits: Most widely available fuel type; quite efficient and quiet in modern engines; can be more cost effective to service than diesels, can be cheaper to fix than diesel engines if a major problem arises, affordable.
  • Cons: The largest con is exhaust emissions even though not as bad as diesel.


  • Benefits: Good compromise between petrol and pure electric vehicles; can run solely on petrol and use standard refuelling infrastructure, low exhaust emissions.
  • Cons: Some questions remain about battery life; limited hybrid models to choose from.


  • Benefits: Zero exhaust emissions; reduced service and maintenance costs; extremely quiet.
  • Cons: Reduced operating range compared to other options as of 2020; minimal public refuelling infrastructure; quite expensive to purchase.


Whatever your needs and personal tastes, arguably the largest factor driving your decision is your budget. Once you narrow down, you can easily eliminate options outside of your price range and dedicate your time to matching a car suited to your parameters. 

Remember, budget isn’t just the upfront cost of the car; ensure you can afford the repayments (if you purchased on credit) including all weekly/monthly payments – but other associated costs such as registration including stamp duty, transfer costs, insurance and car maintenance.  

Warranty and maintenance

Warranty and vehicle maintenance costs might be factors that are not immediately considered when purchasing a new car, but they should be because in the longer term they will affect how cost effective your new car is to maintain and own.

Some car manufacturers offer standard warranties of up to seven years, giving you the peace of mind that your vehicle will be covered against faults for a long period of time. Additionally, a number of car brands offer free scheduled servicing for a set time or fixed price servicing, so you know exactly how much you are up for every time you drop your car off for a service. 

Start the search

Now that you know what you’re looking for, start the search. All manufacturers have websites which contain a vast amounts of information about their vehicles. 

Many even have inbuilt functionality to ‘build your vehicle’ providing a visual perspective as to what your car and accessories may look like. You can also use the websites to locate the closest dealer as well as for requesting a quotes.

Other valuable sources of information available online are media reviews and test drives. Australia has a healthy automotive media scene with many reputable outlets offering excellent neutral advice and content covering a wide range of vehicles.  

The aim of this part of the buying process is to prepare a shortlist of models to check out in greater detail at the dealership. Armed with road test information and an idea of what models are in your price range, you can ask the right questions to ensure the car you end up with is the car for you.

Visiting the dealership

Once you’ve compiled your shortlist of vehicles, visit the dealers who carry these models. We always recommend that you deal with a licensed MTA NSW dealer. These dealers are bound by a strict code of conduct and ethics, making it the best way to ensure that you enjoy the experience of buying a new car. 

Find your local MTA NSW approved dealership via our members search.


Find Your Local Dealership


Take a test drive

The test drive is where you get to experience the car by driving it in a real-world environment. 

Make sure you give it a good try-out, over as many types of roads as you can, paying careful attention to how comfortable you are in the driving position and how the vehicle's handling matches your driving ability. 

Test drive every model on your shortlist and ask the salespeople any questions you can think of, being sure to cover the features that are important to you and those that may affect the price of the vehicle. It may be useful to prepare a list of questions to ask the dealer ahead of time, so that you don’t forget anything.

Work out the price for each vehicle with the accessories you want, and if you have a trade-in get a valuation on it from each dealer.

Before you leave the showroom, pick up a copy of the maker's literature covering the vehicle you're interested in. Most manufacturers will have a ‘specification sheet’ and/or brochure for new vehicles shown on their website.

The more you know the better equipped you'll be to make the right final decision.

Choose your new car and get the best price

Once you’ve been to each dealership and test driven every vehicle on your shortlist, head home and think about everything you've learned. Eventually you'll know which car is right for you. 

The next step is to get the best price. It's always a good idea to approach two or three dealers for their best offer. Your product knowledge will make it easier for them to come up with a package that meets your needs. You've already got one dealer's figure, although it never hurts to go back to that dealership when you've tried one or two others to see if they will better their initial price.

Let them know you've done your homework and are at the stage where you're down to dollars and cents. This will save time for everybody, and it's quite alright to ask for the figure in writing. 

Remember that what you want to know the absolute final price of the car after allowing for your trade-in and including ancillary costs such as registration, stamp duty, and dealer charges.

At the end of this process you'll finish up with the make and model that's exactly what you want and need, and at a price you can afford. You'll also have learned a lot and can take satisfaction in knowing that you've made the right decision.

Most new car dealers also offer finance, but you are not obliged to purchase this from them. Remember it’s probably best to shop around for your loan, just as you did for your car, so you don’t obliterate your savings opting for a non-competitive finance deal.  


Industry insiders suggest that the optimum time for purchasing a new car and getting the best deal is towards the end of the month. 

All dealerships work towards monthly targets, so there may be more urgency to meet their sales goals as the month progresses. Similarly, most dealers will also be willing to make stronger deals towards the end of the financial year.

Happy new car shopping.






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