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Buyer beware – car buying advice guide for retirees

If you last bought a car through the Trading Post – a lot has changed since then. Everything has moved online to classifieds sites like, Gumtree, and even Facebook Marketplace. Cars come with a lot more bells and whistles – and due to shortages and supply chain issues, they’ve become a lot dearer.

If you’re in the market for a new car, what do you need to look out for? How do you calculate car repayments if you need a loan? We break it down in this article.

Should you buy new vs. used?

If you’re in the market for a car, you need to toss up whether buying new or used is best. Used has a cheaper price – but less value overall. It may also be prone to damage and other wear and tear (more on that later.)

New cars come with warranties and are easier to finance (also more on that later.) Buying used can net you a great bargain, but you are on your own if the car you bought doesn’t come with an after-market warranty. Be sure to ask about this if you’re buying second hand from a car yard.

Avoiding scams online

Though “if it’s too good to be true” was good enough to spot scams back in the day, modern scammers are a lot more sophisticated and organised. In fact, we reported that $1 million was lost in 2020 to scams.

For example, a seller may contact you saying they need to leave the country due to military deployment. They have to sell quick. All you have to do is send a small deposit to secure transportation. Once you send them a deposit, they disappear with your money.

They may also “weaponise” the COVID pandemic, saying they don’t want to meet anyone due to the risk of catching the disease. They may also lure you into an unsafe situation, insisting on meeting after dark in a deserted car park.

If you feel unsafe or unsure, report the situation to Scamwatch.

Lemon spotting

Unless you can physically inspect a used car, scratch it off your list. You literally have to go “tyre kicking.” You should look at the bodywork for dents and scratches, test the electricals, see if the car handles well, see if the inside is damaged or stained, and most importantly, check the VIN.

The Vehicle Identification Number should “check out” on the Personal Property Securities Register – as the car you are buying could be a write-off, stolen, or under finance.

For more tips on how to spot lemons, the NRMA has a resource here.

Saving on finance

Due to the pandemic and a global chip shortage, car prices have gone through the roof. We have to consider our finances when we buy a new vehicle – but the saving grace is that interest rates on car loans are lower, saving you on the “back end.”

Savvy Managing Director Bill Tsouvalas says that using a car loan calculator and plugging in the variables may surprise you. “You need an interest rate, preferably a comparison rate, your loan amount, and loan term,” he says. “With interest rates as low as they’ll get, you could save on finance if you go through a specialist car loan broker. It’s one way to save on buying a new car – through the finance.”

Remember to talk to a financial professional before deciding.