Happy to be spending life savings?

It’s Australian Father’s Day today and in honour of our dads moving to Australia we thought we’d write about a slightly more male topic than normal. Feel free to shoot me down if you think that’s a sexist comment; Mum is not at all interested in cars and chose not to get involved in our car buying process in Aus, but I know many mums are instrumental in this purchase or indeed, the person making the decisions and working through the process.

Tips on buying a car in Australia

Last weekend the Weekend Australian Magazine published a Toyota Special Report providing tips on buying a new car, I can’t find the article online or I’d link to it now. Many of the tips are common sense and work worldwide: buy towards the end of the month (when salespeople are hungry to increase their monthly commission), read-up before visiting a garage and remember to haggle, are some of the points they make.

The article highlights some useful websites for those buying in Australia:

Green Vehicle Guide will tell you how ‘green’ and fuel efficient a car is.

Red Book provides pricing information; it will tell you what a car is worth.

BestCars magazine

When we (Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus) started investigating which car to buy in Australia the first thing we did was purchase Australia’s Best Cars magazine. They also have a useful website: http://www.australiasbestcars.com.au/ We easily got hold of the magazine (for around $10) from a newsagent.

Car Advice is another useful website for Australian car reviews and news. NRMA, Australia’s largest member organisation, provide a wide range of information for used car buyers on their website. In fact, if you join up with NRMA you can call them for advice when buying a car.

Different makes to back home

Depending where you’ve moved from you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the different makes of cars available here. Most people know that Holden (Vauxhall in the UK) is the biggy; other well-known global brands common here are Ford and Toyota. Makes we see less of in the UK, but that are widespread down under are Subaru, Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Kia. There are many, many more…In fact, one of the first stumbling blocks for Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus was that there was so much choice.

Of course, having researched all the options and learnt about some excellent brands we’d never considered before, Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus did a u-turn and chose a European car that is ridiculously expense to run here, but even I accept that it’s a good drive.

Buying new or used

We investigated buying a new car, but ended up buying a used car from a dealer. This meant we needed to check whether the vehicle had been in an accident and make sure we received copies of the logbooks and service history.

There are a number of online services you can use to check whether a car has been in an accident:

We bought a car in NSW and used the state traffic authority tools; most states \ territories have their own version. Some Australia-wide tools are below:

Automatic or Manual

By the time we bought our car we’d been here over two months and were used to driving Automatic hire cars. We would have considered an Automatic had a good deal come up but we went for manual gears in the end. It’s worth knowing that manual cars are usually cheaper in Australia so if you don’t mind changing the gears yourself you can save a bit of money. Bear in mind that this will impact the resale of the car, as most Aussies prefer driving an Automatic.

Getting Finance

We took out a Finance package in order to buy a car and during our early weeks here had a few sleepless nights about this. We didn’t want to spend any more money on car hire but weren’t sure we’d be eligible for a car loan. In the end we were accepted at a Toyota garage, where we were thinking of purchasing a new car; and at a VW Dealer, where we bought our used car.

At the time we were accepted, Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus hadn’t started work although he had proof that he was in the final interview stages. We could also demonstrate savings to cover several months of car repayments.

What to do once you have your car

Just when we thought our savings couldn’t take any more big hits, we had to get our new car on the road. Here’s a list of the additional costs you need to be aware of when buying a car in Australia:

  • Green Slip or Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP) – You have to get CTP, also called a Green Slip, before you can register your car. The CTP must be valid for the same duration as your registration i.e. if you have a 6 month green slip, you need to pay for 6 months of registration fees (they won’t let you complete a year’s worth of registration).
  • Vehicle registration fee – calculated by size \ weight of the vehicle, cost depends whether the car is for personal or business use (more for business use).
  • Some vehicles will require a safety check before registration (depends on age of vehicle and when the last check was done) – the cost involved for a standard size car is around $60. We didn’t have to do this when we initially registered our car but it was due six months later when we renewed our registration.
  • Stamp DutyMore money to the government for the pleasure of driving on their roads. In NSW stamp duty is 3% of the market value up to $45,000 and 5% of the market value over $45,000.
  • One-off light motor vehicle taxAn additional fee (around $20) for car owners, you don’t pay this if you have an energy efficient (hybrid) car.

You will also need to consider;

  • Fully comprehensive insurance – talk direct to an insurer e.g. NRMA.
  • Roadside assistance, most commonly available from NRMA.

Each Australian state \ territory has their own road and traffic authority, the details we’ve provided are for the New South Wales RTA. Links to other state motor vehicle registration requirements are below:

We’ve had our car for over a year now and feel we made a good purchase. We’re also used to the registration and CTP reminders we get every six months; we keep saying we’ll renew for a year but there always seems to be something better to spend our money on!

How have you got on with buying a car in Australia? And registering it with your traffic authority? Please share your stories and experiences, especially if you’re a dad moving to Australia and would like to gatecrash this blog aimed at mums. Thank you and Happy Australian Father’s Day!

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