Feature article

Top 5 worst car buying mistakes

Buying a car can be a hazardous minefield. Here's the top five worst car buying mistakes...and how to avoid them.

Buying a car can be an overwhelming experience, rife with risky decisions: new or used, an outright purchase or financed, bought from a dealer or a private seller – there are multiple minefields to be safely navigated. It’s all good though, we’re here to help by sharing the worst car buying mistakes people make and, in the process, inform you of pitfalls to avoid.

1) Not doing your homework

With the mass of internet based car info, data and reviews available these days, this is an unforgivable mistake in the vehicle buying process. When considering which car to buy, we can’t stress the importance of this enough…

research, research, research!

Comprehensively look at the facts and figures related to the car types you’re mulling over. Swot-up on the features you’re most likely to want and need. Check out a variety of dealers or private sellers for the price range (or any deals) you can expect in relation to your preferred vehicle. Knowledge is power, and all the info you need is at your fingertips.

2) Choosing the wrong car for your needs

Think about why you want the car and how you’re going to use it. A large SUV might be handy on certain occasions, but how often are you really going to need to ferry around seven passengers? If the answer is “often!”, go for it. If it’s likely to be more of a rare occurrence, consider something smaller and less gas guzzling.

On the flip-side, if you have a large family, a sporty little hatchback is going to be more hindrance than help when getting your clan from A to B. Once you’ve figured out what primary usages the car will have, you can make an educated decision on what type to go for.

3) Undertaking an insufficient test-drive

There’s no faster road to buyer remorse than performing an inadequate test-drive in a car you’re seriously thinking of buying. You don’t want to discover that the thing is a painfully noisy ‘rattler’ at any speed over 80 km/h after you’ve taken ownership of the vehicle.

Your test-drive should be comprehensive, varied and intensive – mixing up the test conditions with a variety of bumpy backroads and smooth motorways will give you a better feel for how the car consistently handles. Don’t be afraid to try out different types of parking the vehicle, and during the test-drive be sure to consider how successfully any essential additions you’ll require, car seats etc, will fit into the vehicle.

4) Rushing to buy

We totally get it: you love the car and simply must have it, but...stop! Really think about it. No matter how urgent your need or desire for the car might seem, remember – there are always alternatives. The first choice isn’t necessarily the best choice. The more patience you have in the car buying process, the less chance of making the wrong purchase decision.

Take a breather, shop around, browse your options. Unless you’re a car dealer, this isn’t likely to be a transaction you perform often, so take the time to get it right. Also, not rushing in will almost certainly give you a stronger hand in negotiations with the seller – potentially leading to a better deal.

5) Not getting a pre-purchase inspection

The introduction of the Trade Me Background Check is great news for increased buyer confidence in the used vehicle market, but failing to obtain a pre-purchase inspection on a car you’re seriously considering buying is an almighty error.

A comprehensive mechanical check will highlight any potential nasties lurking around the corner of car ownership and help you decide whether it’s the right vehicle for you. Top tip: make sure to enlist the services of a trusted, accredited mechanic.

Now you know what to avoid...

...you can make sure not to make these mistakes, and should be empowered to buy a car with confidence. Looking for a car should be a fun, exciting process – it doesn’t have to be stressful! Be sure to use our buyer advice pages for increased peace of mind in your car buying journey.