Top 6 Considerations for First-Time Car Buyers

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Buying your first car is a big milestone. It doesn’t matter if the car is used or new—making a big purchase such as your very own vehicle is definitely something to celebrate. Still, there are many things to think about before you can actually proceed with getting your own car. Below are the top things to keep in mind to ensure a smooth, hassle-free experience:

The Car’s Purpose

There are literally thousands of car makes and models to choose from, which can make choosing just one a real conundrum. However, there’s an easy way to narrow down your choices: determine its purpose. For example, if you’re the outdoorsy type who often goes on weekend adventures, then you’re probably going to need a four-wheel-drive. Your vehicle should also be sturdy enough to carry equipment like surfboards and camping gear.

Meanwhile, if you only need something to get around the city, you’ll probably need something smaller like a sedan. If you need a bit more space for your kids, a multi-purpose vehicle or SUV might also be a good choice.

Once you determine your car’s main purpose, it will make the choice so much easier.

Ease of Finding Spare Parts

Modern cars are amazing, packed with awesome features for entertainment, convenience, and safety. However, if you like to tinker with your vehicle to your heart’s content, you’re probably better off getting a used car. That’s because newer car models can be restrictive when it comes to customisation.

If you’re looking to buy a used or classic car, you should also consider how accessible spare parts are, both for customisation purposes and potential repairs.

See if there are still manufacturers who make car accessories for that model, as well. Sure, you can get some accessories customised, but that may cost a lot of money. Your best bet is to find a supplier that sells tailor-made accessories for specific models to save on costs. If you can’t find one, decide whether it’s worth it to pay extra to have accessories made for a used or classic car.

If you’re getting an old-model Jeep Wrangler, for example, make sure that you have a reliable resource for parts such as this site. This way, you don’t have to worry about acquiring quality components just in case something goes wrong.

Safety Features

One of the most important considerations when buying a car is safety. This isn’t so much as an issue for newer models, since you can easily find their safety ratings online. But what about older or used cars?

Some of the best resources you have are the Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) and Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). There’s also the EuroNCAP. The safest vehicles are those with 5-star ratings, so try to get as close to that as possible.

For the actual safety features, the most important ones are the airbags. If you can, you should also spring for models with anti-lock brakes and stability control. And of course, make sure that the seatbelts are in good working order.

Automatic or Manual Transmission?

Many of the cars available in New Zealand nowadays are automatic. Nevertheless, if you’re going for older models, classic automobiles, or perhaps a sports car, then you need to learn how to drive a manual.

Also, do note that if you took your restricted test in an automatic transmission, then you won’t be able to drive a manual until you’ve received your full licence. Again, this is a big consideration if you’re planning to buy a car with a manual gearbox.

Your Budget

Obviously, you have to consider your budget when you’re buying a car. There are many models that are quite affordable even when brand new, however, so don’t limit yourself too much while you’re window shopping.

Still, there are other expenses that you need to think about beyond the list price. Insurance and registration are some of the biggest ones, but you’re also going to need a warrant of fitness (WoF). If you’re buying an older car, you’ll need a WoF more often.

Then you also have to consider the budget for the overall ownership costs. These include money for repairs and maintenance, replacement parts, and oil. Fuel is also going to be a constant expense. A budget of about $50 to $60 per week is a reasonable estimate, which means you’re looking at about $2,500 to $3,000 a year for fuel costs.

Car Inspections

If you’re buying a brand new car, then you can skip this step. However, if you’re buying used, you need to think about car inspections. It’s not an absolute must, but it’s highly advisable since this can reveal any potential problems.

Make sure to bring someone along who knows a lot about cars. Some minor cosmetic issues can be easily repaired, but mechanical or electrical issues may be a little more expensive to fix. While you’re at it, you should also take a look at the car’s WoF. Ideally, it should have plenty of time left so you don’t have to immediately foot an expensive repair bill to pass the next test.

Buying a car is an exciting endeavour, but don’t forget about its practical aspects as well. This way, you can truly get your money’s worth and have a great car that you will enjoy driving.


Just A Guy Thing is a men's lifestyle magazine focused primarily at guys wanting to better themselves.

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