BEFORE I bought my first car, I literally had no idea what I wanted to buy.
I asked the resident car expert (Dad), and I said Dad, what car should I buy?
Well Ash, he said, it depends on what you want.
Love you Dad, but that’s not the answer I wanted.
There are way too many cars to choose from these days; ones that talk to you, park for you, drive for you and even feed you (that idea is still in the planning stages).
You’ve got the classics, the sporty ones, the people movers and the little buzz boxes.
When I jumped on Carsales for the first time, I didn’t get too far.
I said to my dad, I just want something with four doors and an automatic transmission, where do I start?
Well, let me tell you, those two filter options didn’t really narrow the search field very much.
When thinking of buying a car, you first need to determine the must-have features you wouldn’t be able to live without, or things you can’t handle.
For example, if you only have an automatic license, purchasing a 5-speed manual could prove a legality issue.
If you are four-foot-tall and thinking of buying a Patrol with a four-inch lift and 35s, perhaps think again.
Make sure the basic elements of the car, such as size, transmission, fuel type and brand, are within your budget, your locality and your capabilities.
Budget is a big deal when it comes to cars.
Don’t let yourself fall in love with a $75,000 car which would mean your $300 per week income is swallowed up instantly every fortnight when your bank chases you for loan repayments.
Even with a full-time income, a car loan can take a big whack out of your pay, so consider something you can afford cash up-front, or with a part-cash, part-loan scenario.
You may be surprised to find a fair few pre-owned cars in decent condition that are within the $3000 to $9000 price range.
I love my Radiant Ebony-coloured car, but that dark purple is a pain to keep clean.
If you live in a notoriously hot area or regularly use gravel roads, consider a light-coloured car.
This way, you run less of a risk cursing your car every time you go to the car wash, because the water marks stain and make it look like you forgot to rinse off the soap.
And, your car won’t become a hot pocket of hell when you leave it in the shopping centre carpark at lunchtime.
Ooh, the possibilities.
Some people froth over the chance to buy a high-powered car that would leave the average V8 for dead at the lights.
However, these cars can (do) use a lot of fuel and can require a fair amount of maintenance to keep them legal and on the road.
Perhaps steer clear of a twin-turbo supercharged car if you’re living on not too much a week, or if your partner has threatened you on more than one occasion to stop throwing more money at another car that sits in the driveway.
Before you get too excited behind the computer screen at the sheer sight of your dream car, go and test-drive it.
You could get in the driver’s seat and hate the feel of it, the layout of the features, or simply feel uncomfortable in it.
The phrase ‘try before you buy’ is certainly applicable to these types of scenarios.
Sit in the front and back seats, attempt three-point turns and roundabouts, and have a look inside the boot, to test whether the car will be comfortable for you, and any passengers you want to carry.
So, when you start day-dreaming about a new car, perhaps keep these few tips in mind.