Julia Pannett
Car Insurance
04 Feb 2022

What do I need to know when buying my first car?

Cars - they’re the ultimate ticket to freedom and make getting around a whole lot easier, but are you having trouble deciding what kind you want?

From registration to budgets, dealerships to private sellers - buying a car can sometimes be financially daunting.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, we’ve created this handy guide with tips on how to buy your first car.

Budgeting for your first car

You might have just scored your provisional licence or need one for your new job, whatever the reason might be - everyone has a different budget.

Consider the following before buying a car:

  • What’s the maximum price you’re willing to pay for a car?
  • Can you budget for the upkeep? (like fuel and regular maintenance)
  • What type of car insurance do you need?

Owning a car comes with extra costs like registration, insurance, servicing, and petrol, so ensure your budget accounts for these things on top of making the purchase.

Manual versus automatic

Depending on where you got your licence in Australia, you might be restricted to driving a certain transmission. For example, if you got your provisional licence in Queensland, you must take a separate test to drive a manual car. Automatic and manual transmission have different pros and cons.

Read below to get a better idea of the transmission types:

Automatic transmission

Pros Cons
Easier to maneuver

Cost more than manual cars

Sometimes safer (can keep both hands on the wheels, doesn’t require manual gear change)

Require more maintenance

Better to use in peak hour/ traffic

Less fuel-efficient

Manual transmission

Pros Cons
More control over the vehicle

Harder to learn

Better fuel economy

More effort to drive in peak hour/ heavy traffic

Cost less than automatic cars

Less convenient

Where to buy a car?

The next thing you might be wondering is - where do I buy my car? There are a few avenues you can take, and similarly to picking what transmission you want, there are pros and cons of going through a car dealership or private seller.

Buying a car from a car dealership

If you want to simplify the process of buying a car - a car dealership might be right for you.

Salespeople can help you with the car, registration, warranty, and safety inspection. While this might be more convenient than going through a private seller, it usually comes at an extra cost.

Most car dealerships carry out rigorous inspections to ensure cars are in working order but consider hiring an independent mechanic to check over the vehicle.

Buying a car from a private seller

Going through a private seller is sometimes a more affordable option but carries more risk.

People often use online marketplaces like carsales.com.au, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree to sell second-hand cars. If you do your research, you’ll get a good idea of how much the make and model you want is selling for. If the car is listed above the second-hand market price, there might be an opportunity to haggle the price down.

The main risks of buying from a private seller are no warranties or guarantees. Some sellers may not disclose all the problems with the car, which could leave you with unaffordable repair costs

What should I look out for when buying a second-hand car?

It’s always a good idea to request an inspection report from a mechanic, but things you can check before purchase include:

  • How many kilometres the car has travelled
  • The condition of the vehicle for any scratches, dents, or noticeable faults
  • How many previous owners the car has had
  • If there’s any outstanding finance on the car

Where possible, request a certificate of roadworthiness and service history from the previous owner. Also, take the car for a test drive to see how it feels at different speeds and whether it makes any unusual sounds. Check out our buying a used car guide for further details.

Where should I get insurance for my car?

Now that you know a little bit more about buying your first car, have you considered what insurance you want? Everyday Insurance offers flexible cover options for you and your car.

Get a quote online today and see how much you could save

# Available for a limited time only. Based on comparable Comprehensive cover. Subject to minimum premiums. Savings apply for first year only. Terms, conditions and eligibility criteria apply. Any other available discounts applied before price beat. Please read the full terms and conditions

Benefits are subject to the terms and conditions including the limits and exclusions of the insurance policy. Any advice provided is general only and may not be right for you. Before you purchase this product you should carefully read the Car Insurance Product Disclosure Statement and consider the Target Market Determination to decide if it is right for you.