Is now time for an up­grade?

Ques­tions you need to ask be­fore lock­ing in a new car

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DE­CID­ING to up­grade to a new car is ex­cit­ing.

How­ever it also opens the door to a whole host of de­ci­sions, rang­ing from which makes and mod­els you pre­fer to set­ting your new car bud­get.

To help you wade through these de­ci­sions, we’ve rounded up a list of the top things to con­sider be­fore you lay down your hard­earned cash on a new car. Know what you want While price is im­por­tant, it’s far from the only fac­tor you should con­sider when de­cid­ing which car is right for you. Fuel econ­omy No one likes be­ing stung at the petrol pump – es­pe­cially with fuel prices at their cur­rent lev­els.

The Gov­ern­ment’s Green Ve­hi­cle guide (green­ve­hi­cle guide.gov.au) has a great cal­cu­la­tor that al­lows you to com­pare up to three ve­hi­cles at a time based on es­ti­mated an­nual fuel costs, av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion, and even the level of air pol­lu­tion it emits. Safety Your car is go­ing to be car­ry­ing pre­cious cargo – so wouldn’t you want to know how it stacks up against other cars in its class?

The Aus­tralasian New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram (ANCAP) pro­vides con­sumers with in­for­ma­tion about the level of pro­tec­tion and col­li­sion-avoid­ance ca­pa­bil­i­ties pro­vided by dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cle mod­els in the most com­mon types of se­ri­ous crashes. Life­style Do you “re­ally” need a four-wheel-drive if you’re never likely to take it off-road?

Sim­i­larly, a small hatch­back might suit you when your chil­dren are young, but what hap­pens when they (or your fam­ily size) grow?

Con­sid­er­ing this car is go­ing to be with you for be­tween the next five to 10 years, it’s worth think­ing about how your life may change dur­ing that time. Start Shop­ping for the Best Deal Once you’re set on which car you want, it’s time to get out there and talk to some deal­ers.

Here are our tips for get­ting a great deal:

■ Find out the full cost. Re­mem­ber, the cost of buy­ing a car is more than just the price tag.

The “drive-away” costs like reg­is­tra­tion, stamp duty and CTP can add any­where from a cou­ple of hun­dred to a cou­ple of thou­sand dol­lars to the to­tal pur­chase price.

■ Pre­pare to bar­gain. While there’s no guar­an­tee you’ll be suc­cess­ful, be­ing pre­pared to ne­go­ti­ate with deal­ers can help you shave some dol­lars off the cost of your car.

Here are our best hag­gling tips:

■ Keep your ex­pec­ta­tions re­al­is­tic.

You prob­a­bly won’t hag­gle much off an al­ready dis­counted price.

■ Be friendly and po­lite. Good man­ners go a long way and some­times a deal sim­ply comes down to how much they like you.

■ Do leave your phone num­ber, even if you walk away.

They might come back to you with a bet­ter offer. Lock in your fi­nance Shop­ping around for fi­nance is just as im­por­tant as shop­ping for the car it­self.

While a com­pet­i­tive in­ter­est rate is es­sen­tial, you should also make sure you are aware of any fees or con­di­tions that ap­ply.

Things you should know be­fore you sign a con­tract in­clude:

■ Are there any early pay­out fees?

■ What are the set-up/on­go­ing costs? ■ What is the com­par­i­son in­ter­est rate?

Re­mem­ber: the com­par­i­son rate is a method of stan­dar­d­is­ing the true cost of a loan.

It can help you see what the ac­tual costs are once you in­clude all the fees and is an easy way to com­pare credit providers on an even play­ing field.

Be­ware of dealer fi­nance We’ve all seen signs ad­ver­tis­ing “zero per cent in­ter­est” fi­nance deals, but of­ten the old say­ing “if it sounds too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is” rings true.

With this type of fi­nance the in­ter­est is of­ten ac­counted for in the price of the ve­hi­cle, so the dealer isn’t likely to be flex­i­ble on the price, or very gen­er­ous with trade-in of­fers.

There can also be bal­loon pay­ments due at the end of the con­tract – so un­less you are happy to find the cash to pay out the fi­nal lump sum,

you’re prob­a­bly bet­ter off stick­ing to more tra­di­tional fi­nance op­tions. Ready to start? Check out the car loan re­pay­ment cal­cu­la­tor at

www.my­move.com.au to work out what your re­pay­ments might look like.

You’ll also be able to see how much in­ter­est you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

PHOTO: MY MOVE

DRIV­ING AWAY: Your list of top things to con­sider be­fore up­grad­ing.

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