If you buy a new car, ensure you:
- check the contract, total cost and warranty conditions
- be aware that there is no cooling-off period
- check the dates on the compliance and build plates
- negotiate the best deal that suits you
- pay a deposit
- conduct a pre-delivery check
- understand the trader´s policy for resolving disputes.
The contract of sale for the purchase of a motor vehicle is a legally binding document. Do not sign it until you are absolutely sure you want to buy the car.
Make sure there are no unfavourable clauses in the contract. For example, make sure it specifies a trade-in amount and a delivery date.
Add any specific requirements you may have, such as:
- "This contract is subject to the purchaser obtaining sufficient finance from (insert the name of your credit provider) to complete the purchase"
- "(Insert car details including colour and build date) is to be delivered by (insert date) otherwise the contract will be cancelled and deposit refunded".
You should never sign an incomplete contract, and always keep a copy of what you sign.
The dealer must specify all mandatory costs you pay when purchasing a vehicle.
This should include the sum of:
- the actual price of the vehicle
- stamp duty
- dealer delivery charges
- any other levies or fees that must be paid before receiving the vehicle.
Make sure you are aware of the full cost of the vehicle, including add-on costs such as window tinting and rust proofing.
Study the manufacturer's warranty carefully. Before the warranty expires, have a full mechanical inspection done by an independent and qualified mechanic, so any problems can be identified and corrected within the warranty period.
When you buy a new car, there is no cooling-off period. Make sure you are completely satisfied with the car and the terms of the contract before signing a contract.
A vehicle is considered a new car if it has never been licensed or registered. A demonstration car is not considered a new car.
Vehicle plate checks
Check the build plate for the car´s construction date. The compliance plate shows the date the car met certain Australian safety standards, making it legal to drive.
The compliance date will not necessarily be the same as the build date, especially on imported vehicles. Make sure the advertised year model of the car match its true age.
The build plate date is commonly used to value a car when you resell it. If you have bought a car based on its compliance date, rather than build date, its resale value could be significantly less than expected.
As you visit each dealer, ask them to give you a firm price in writing for the model you want. Get prices from as many dealers as possible. If you are going to trade-in your current car, ask for a firm price on your trade-in. Get any agreements in writing and have them signed by the manager.
Stick to your financial limit. If you can´t get the price you´re after, be prepared to walk away. It´s not the car for you if you can´t afford it.
Dealers often ask for a deposit to prove you intend to buy the car. Pay only the minimum deposit the dealer will accept to reserve the car.
Before you hand over your cash, check that your deposit is refundable, and if so, under what circumstances. Get a receipt for every payment you make.
Do your own pre-delivery check on the vehicle. Check that:
- there are no dents or chips in the paintwork
- there are no cuts or scratches on the interior
- all accessories or extras you ordered were included
- the year the car was actually built is correct.
Firstly, try to resolve any disputes directly with the dealer. If you are not happy with the dealer´s response, lodge a complaint with us.
Last reviewed 22/11/2011