In order to bring some order to the process, here are 8 things to check off as you go about finding your next car.

1. Define a budget

If you already own a car, consider how a different car might change your service, insurance, or petrol costs. If you are selling your existing car, research how much the car is worth before working out your budget. If this is your first time buying, don’t forget to budget for stamp duty, dealer delivery, extras, insurance, finance costs as well as the running costs. Decide how much you can afford to pay on a monthly basis, as this will help inform what type of car you can afford.

2. Have your finance pre-approved

Unless you have the cash up front to pay for a new car, you’ll require financing of some kind. Know what your limit is and seek a pre-approval so that you’ll have confidence when negotiating on price. Generally a pre-approval will be valid for a number of months and will ensure you don’t have to rush around when you do find the car you a looking for.

3. Research cars

When it comes to researching cars, you can use a vehicle sourcing service which will find, compare, and negotiate on your behalf. Alternatively, if you don’t mind doing the work yourself, you can start by looking online to see industry standardised data on new and used car prices. Before you decide on a model, consider what your everyday needs are.

4. Request information

Find out as much as you can about the cars you’re interested in before you arrange an inspection. Download brochures from car manufacturer websites, or request call backs from dealers who can answer specific questions. If you are contacting a private seller, be sure to find out how long they have owned the car, the car’s service history and their reason for selling.

5. Inspection time

If you don’t feel confident in your knowledge of cars, it can be useful to bring along an informed friend to the car inspection. This is particularly true if you are purchasing a used car through a private seller. Ask to see the logbook and make note of any parts that do not appear to be in good condition. Finally, take the car for a test drive at slow and fast speeds and on different road types if you can. Pay attention to how it feels and sounds and check that you are content with the layout of the interior features.

6. Check the facts

If you are buying a used car, check with the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), to see if any money is owed on the vehicle or if the car was written off by an insurance company. Make sure the address on the registration certificate matches the seller’s home address, and double check that the odometer reading is the same as what was advertised. You may also need to research the costs of any replacement parts you think the car might need.

7. Negotiate on price

Whether you are buying from a dealer or a private seller, don’t let yourself be pushed beyond your pre-defined budget. Know what you can afford and don’t go beyond it when negotiating. If you feel uncomfortable negotiating with a dealer, you should consider the help of a car sourcing and buying service. These services will often source prices from a range of local dealers and negotiate price and features on your behalf.

8. Get the paperwork

Once you've struck a deal make sure you have the original registration papers, service history and logbook. Get a written receipt with the seller's details for each payment you make. If you are buying from a dealership, ensure the particulars of the vehicle are correct before signing any order. Once you have signed the order you are locked into that purchase and there may be cost associated with changing or cancelling the order.

Related products

New finance enquiries

Submit an enquiry using the request a call form above

Manage your account online

View and manage your car loan online here

Help and support

Visit our online Help Centre.

Additional information

For all applications submitted from 06 December 2022 Personal Use Car Loans originated directly with Macquarie (and not through a broker) are provided by Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 Australian Credit Licence 237502 (‘Macquarie Bank’). All other car and asset loan products and leases are provided by Macquarie Leasing Pty Ltd ABN 38 002 674 982 Australian Credit Licence 394925 (‘Macquarie Leasing’). Please refer to your loan agreement or lease, once available, for your credit provider or lessor.  All applications are subject to the satisfaction of approval criteria. Terms, conditions, fees and charges apply.

Car sourcing and related services are provided by Macquarie Leasing. Information on this page does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and does not constitute an offer capable of acceptance.

Any information or advice contained on this website is general in nature, is not an expression of opinion or recommendation, and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information or advice on this website, you should consider the appropriateness of it (and any relevant product) having regard to your circumstances and, if a current offer document is available, read the offer document before acquiring products named on this website. You should also seek independent financial, accounting and tax advice prior to acquiring a financial product.