Top 6 things new car buyers forget to check

It's easy to get obsessed with styling, cost and the test drive - but if you're in the market for a new car now, have you checked these six things?

Alternatively, read this report as a transcript >>


It takes a long time to get some vehicles from the end of the production line to your driveway at home. This can have a big impact on the value of the car when you ultimately trade it in. Let's say you purchase a vehicle without researching the build date of the vehicle you buy. It might have a build date of October 2014. The Australian compliance plate might be stamped January 2015, and you might buy it in August 2015.

To you, the vehicle seems like a late 2015 model. To the dealer you're trading it in through, the build date serves as ammunition to prosecute the case that it's actually a 2014 model (because it is - it's built to that specification). And this will be used to talk the price down, adding another year's depreciation into the mix. That's bad for you.

The only way you can really counter this is to negotiate a suitable discount for any car you buy that is built in the year prior to when you purchase it.

See also:
Where is my car really made? >>
Don't buy a demonstrator >>


More and more cars are coming standard with a space-saver tyre - and plenty go buyers don't check. (The time to discover your new car has a space saver is - obviously - before you purchase it.)

Space savers are those terribly skinny spare tyres you see rolling around from time to time. They are OK for short hops in the city (to get a flat tyre repaired or replaced, depending on the damage). However, they're a liability on the open road, because they're limited to just 80km/h and they just don't grip the road very well.

See also:
The 'extended warranty' con >>


It's also a great idea to evaluate the headlight (and high beam) brightness of your intended new car - before you buy it. Again, probably not that vital if you intend driving only rarely away from populated areas, but very important if you intend to commute long distances regularly. If you're getting serious about a particular car, request an overnight test drive to evaluate the lights (and to make sure it fits in your garage/gets up your driveway - whatever might be a literal hurdle on the road to ownership).

See also:
How to beat a car dealer >>


A car's value in the used market depends on only two things: supply of those used cars, and demand for them. Popular cars tend to hold their value better - it's that simple. This certainly is important to you as a new car buyer because it's easy to lose bucketloads of cash to depreciation. Everyone loses some cash to depreciation, but some vehicles bell a lot more heavily than others. Try to avoid buying a depreciation dog.

See also:
Why car advertising is bullshit >>


You will be spitting chips if you pay the big bucks and see the model you just bought replaced by a new model with more features, better styling and possibly even at a lower price in the next few months. Thankfully, the car industry is very bad at keeping new model upgrades secret, and Google knows everything. At the very least, Google the words [CAR MODEL] and 'replacement' - just to make sure a new model doesn't eclipse the one you bought ... before the new car smell wears off.

See also:
Negotiating for maximum discount >>


Sadly there are just some models that are doomed to failure - or at least doomed to under-whelm the market. This might be by virtue of their under-done engineering (Cruze, Captiva), or because they were simply clubbed too hard with the 'ugly' stick (Terios - remember those?). Perhaps the brand is a dud (Saab), or even the badge (Freelander). Whatever - these duds get 'fire sale' treatment. They're on the 'discount' rack, out the front.

If you buy one of these, it will always bite you because the parent car company will have no alternative but to drop the price - often massively. If you buy in at a higher price, the following 'fire sale' discounts will erode your car's value (because its value is related directly to the new replacement cost rather than what you actually paid for it).

Avoid like the plague any car with the potential for subsequent 'desperation discounting' by the parent carmaker.

Doing your homework here might not save you money up front - in fact, it might even cost you a little more (for the popular car with a proper spare tyre, which has just been upgraded). But it is guaranteed to save you money in the long term.

See also:
Lemon laws >>
Australia's worst cars >>