Buying a new or used vehicle

Buying a new vehicle

Before you buy a new car, you should make a checklist of the features you want. You can check road tests in magazines and talk to others who have bought similar vehicles.

Make a checklist

Your list should include all of the following:

  • price range
  • size
  • accessories - eg: bullbar or towbar
  • type of vehicle - whether you want a sedan, station wagon or ute
  • fuel economy
  • resale value
  • warranty period and reliability.

Prepare a budget

You should prepare a budget to check the full costs of buying your vehicle.

There can be extra costs such as registration and dealer delivery charges not included in the advertised price. These are called on-road costs.

If you need to borrow money you will need to check if you can pay back the cost of the car and running costs. 

You should shop around for the best deals on finance and insurance and not just rely on the recommendations from the trader.

You may be able to get a personal loan from a bank or credit union at a cheaper interest rate.

You will also need to take out insurance, so you will need to get quotes from insurance companies.  

Always check the terms and conditions before signing any paperwork.

Read more about contracts.

Trade-in your old vehicle

If you have a vehicle you want to sell, you can use it as a trade-in on a new car, but you may get a better price by selling it privately. Check the value on websites such as Redbook.

A dealer should have room to move on the advertised sale price with a trade-in.

Be wary of high trade-in offers. The price of your new car may be increased to cover the difference.

If you do not have a trade-in you should be able to negotiate a discount on the advertised price.

Before you hand over your old car, agree on a specific delivery date for the new one and make sure you can afford the changeover cost.

You should also:

  • make sure the car is clean
  • replace or repair worn items such as a cracked windshield or bald tyres.

Read about leasing a car.

Signing the contract 

There is no cooling-off period for vehicle sales in the Northern Territory (NT).

Once you sign a contract it is legally binding and by law you have to go through with the purchase.

Make sure you understand the terms and conditions before signing and delete any sections from the contract that you don’t agree with.

You and the dealer should both initial any changes. Don’t sign any form or contract with blank spaces.

Make sure you confirm the delivery date.

If you have signed a contract and paid a deposit and you change your mind, the dealer can keep the deposit.

Always think about the deal carefully before you sign.

Extended car warranties

Extended car warranties can be bought from licensed motor vehicle dealers. These warranties extend the period of cover beyond any manufacturer's warranty that applies.

Before buying an extended car warranty read the policy carefully, as many of these warranties are only valid if you observe strict servicing conditions and generally only cover specific items.

Check out exactly what is covered and under what circumstances claims will not be accepted.

Find out more about warranties.

When your vehicle arrives

Check your new vehicle thoroughly before you sign to accept delivery.

You should check all of the following:

  • any extras you ordered are included
  • it has a spare tyre, tool kit and jack
  • if there is damage to paintwork or faults in the electrics.

New cars have extensive warranty periods, so if you do have a problem after delivery you should speak to the dealer.

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Last updated: 11 June 2015

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