JMMB - buying a car

What to know when buying a car

For many, one of the first major purchases of their life is a vehicle. Whether new or used, making the transition from being a passenger to owning your own vehicle can be daunting yet exciting and ultimately rewarding (you never have to wait on your friend who drove to leave somewhere again!). Even for experienced car-buyers, there are several variables and factors to consider, however, when buying a car, such as funding decisions, where to purchase and criteria for finding a vehicle that fits your current needs.

For first, second or even tenth-time soon-to-be car owners, here are some tips to assist in this process.

Understanding the total costs involved

Especially if you are buying a used car, your car’s cost will often be greater than the selling price. For used cars, there will be transfer tax to pay, which can be between $150 for cars older than ten years to $4000 for cars 2 years or newer. The transfer fee can be negotiated into the sale price or sale agreement however; putting the onus on the seller to pay for the transfer.

With used cars, you are inheriting the car’s wear and tear and additional servicing needs, resulting in additional mechanic, maintenance and parts costs. Some car brands and models also have higher parts costs, which also usually comes with higher mechanic labour costs.

While a new car will have a higher selling price, it will come with minimal wear and tear and most dealerships offer warranties that can last up to 3 years and include general service for reduced cost. With a new car, you should also ensure that the price you’re being given includes costs like vehicle tax and VAT, otherwise there will be a significant amount more to pay.

Gas should also be considered. Most vehicles are either Diesel, Super or Premium, with Premium gas being the most expensive – a premium car will probably take a minimum of $180 to $200 to fill a tank. Electric and CNG cars are becoming more popular though, with these types offering savings in gas.

Choosing the right vehicle

Every vehicle can get you from point A to point B. Before you settle on one type, you should understand your needs and what matters to you most. Ask yourself the following questions:

• How much can you reasonably afford?

• What’s your lifestyle like? Will you be driving long distances regularly or stick to your neighbourhood and environs?

• Will you need 4x4 capability or will a sedan be enough?

• How much time will you spend in the vehicle?

• Do you need a lot of cargo space?

• Will you regularly have many passengers?

• What size engine do you want?

• What gas type do you prefer? Super, Premium, Diesel, CNG or even a hybrid?

• What other amenities/technology do you want?

• Are looks important?


For most, a loan will be their main funding method for their vehicle. All major banks have specialised loans geared towards this type of purchase, with similar requirements, including:

• Downpayment on the car

• A job letter

• Name / details of the insurer

• Letter of sale or invoice from the dealer

This being said, interest rates and loan details will differ across banks and credit unions, so do your research and compare what you’re getting from your options.

How to choose a seller

There are several new and used car dealers located across the country. With so many from which to choose, how do you narrow them down?

Reputation – do research into the dealer’s reputation. Even new car dealers can have different ratings. Ask customers about their experience with the dealer’s sales team and their after-sales and servicing behaviour.

History and Credibility – How long has the dealer been around? Do they have a history of reliability, dependability and credibility? Have they had any financial issues in the recent past?

Other tips

• With a used car, always take a good mechanic of your choosing with you to inspect the car

• It may be possible to negotiate to get the seller of a used car to pay the transfer tax

• To ensure a used car wasn’t stolen, you can check with the TTPS and obtain a certified copy from the Licensing Office

• Some cars have better resale value than others. Chances are that your next car won’t be your last and you’ll eventually sell. Ask mechanics, dealers and car enthusiasts on which brands and models they recommend holds its value.


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