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Buying a Car During Lockdown

Jun 4, 2020 | Insights

With the COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is not possible to get out to look for a vehicle to buy. So, it’s the perfect time to do your research and find the car that best suits your needs…

Buying a car during lockdown may seem like an impossible task. There are a range of reasons why buying a car now may seem too hard, but finding the right car doesn’t have to be one of them. Lockdown presents a great time to do your research, find the right car and get a great deal.

Determine your needs

Work out what you need, not what you want in a vehicle. Think about what you will be using the vehicle for and use this to determine the class of vehicle that will suit your needs. Do you have an expanding family that demands the ability to carry children and all of the extras that go with them. Are you a tradie who requires a vehicle that is capable of carrying a heavy load or larger items for your daily work requirements. Once you have determined the class of vehicle required then you can narrow it down to your preferred options.

Do your homework

Once you have determined what your needs are in a vehicle it is time to research the market. A good place to start would be an online sales application such as carsales or a vehicle database site like RedBook. Using these sites you can start with the class of vehicle you have determined and narrow down your criteria. Look closely at the differences between particular models and the extra features they have to help you determine value. 

Once you have narrowed down your options ask your friends and family if they have any experience with the vehicles that you have shortlisted, read reviews that have been published about the cars you are considering and watch YouTube videos for first-hand experiences from owners of those vehicles.

Become an expert

When you have selected your preferred option it is time to get serious about your car buying. It is at this stage of the car-buying process you need to develop a clear understanding of how much a car will cost to buy, what it will cost to run on a daily basis and what the end cost of the car will be in terms of how much money you will lose when you sell. 

Purchase price is pretty straight-forward, but it is important to understand what you are getting for your money. Take the time to understand the specifications of the different models of the car you are considering as it is the relationship between what you pay and what you get that determines value. The more car you can get for your money, the greater its value both now and in the future.

Cost of ownership is a whole different set of considerations. These considerations include servicing costs, repair costs, fuel costs, insurance costs and registration costs. Issues known to be associated with the car and manufacturer recalls are other factors you should consider as they may cost you in the future. Become an expert on the car you are looking to buy, and understand its true cost, so you can better negotiate your purchase.

Consider Warranty 

A range of manufacturers have been offering factory warranties of up to seven years’ long for quite some time now, so there are many options to buy a used car with a residual factory warranty. For example, a three-year-old car that was sold with a seven-year warranty could still have four years of factory warranty remaining. If the service history is in order (you can check this with a local dealer), you might end up with four years of peace of mind. 

Ask sellers for assistance

Dealers, and private sellers, want to keep selling cars during lockdown and may be willing to provide assistance in your search for the right vehicle. Ask sellers how they can help you to evaluate your shortlist of vehicle options. Can the dealer bring the car to you for a test-drive? Are they willing to send a video of the car to you or assist with an inspection using an application such as FaceTime? Ask the dealer if they offer an exchange on a used car if you find the car unsuitable after purchase (but check the relevant consumer laws that apply in your State or Territory), and see if the dealer or private seller will deliver the car to you upon sale. 

Do your due diligence

Ask the dealer, or private seller, about the service history of the car including providing you with documented proof of servicing. Ask the dealer if they have a comprehensive safety check or similar documentation to ensure the car is safe. Alternatively, arrange for RACQ to inspect the car for you if it is a private sale or the dealer doesn’t have a vehicle check system. Do a search on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) to check whether the vehicle is under finance. Finally, always buy a car with a current roadworthy certificate.

Consider using a broker

Using a car-buying broker can remove the need to see anyone in person beyond collecting the car; and we have already established that a dealer or private seller can deliver the car to you. Brokers will listen to what you need and find the right vehicle to suit your needs, usually at a better price too. They will also typically work as a go-between with the dealer and your finance company to ensure the car is roadworthy, has clear title and will usually handle all of the paperwork. The added bonus is that these services are typically paid for by the seller, so there is no cost to you.

If you need it, you can do it

Regardless of the lockdown that we are all in, you may still need to buy a vehicle for either personal or business reasons. While you may not be able to go out and do that at the moment, there are still ways you can safely buy a car. The Internet is a valuable resource that you can use to determine what your needs are and to select a vehicle that will meet those needs. Dealers and private sellers may work with you to assist with your buying process, while brokers can take over the process for you entirely once you have chosen the car that you need.

Disclaimer: The information above is general commentary only. You should not rely on the contents of this website without first obtaining specific advice. Finance One accepts no liability or responsibility as a consequence of reliance on the information.

Article by: Scott Smith

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