Buying a car can seem like a daunting task. I remember having to learn about car financing, used cars, new cars, dealer scams and a whole bunch of information when I was making my vehicle purchases over the years. Regardless of whether a person buys new or second-hand, the process of buying a car can be fraught with issues of budget, needs and those inevitable want-to-haves.
When I was a young, attractive woman with long flowing hair I had visions of myself driving a sports car, wearing an Isadora scarf, with an Afghan hound sitting in the passenger seat beside me. (I got as far as sitting in the dicky seat in an old Triumph sports car with four others jammed in it.) It was a long time before I got my first new car.
After returning to work when the boys were at school, I was able to salary sacrifice and purchased a brand new Toyota Corolla CSX hatchback. It was a very popular car and I thought I was the bee’s knees at the time! It smelled so beautiful; that new car smell. I drove the car to work, I ferried my sons around in it, I loved it.
As the boys got bigger and older we did a trade for a dual cab Toyota HiLux. We were doing a lot of camping, so it made sense for that reason too. That vehicle saved our lives when we hit a hole in the shoulder of the road. It held up, after fishtailing and then rolling three times. We then went really upmarket and bought ourselves a Subaru Liberty automatic sedan — a beautiful vehicle to drive. Sadly, it had to be sold when my marriage ended, so I was back to finding another second-hand car.
I seem to have digressed somewhat, but with all these memories comes a lot of learning too. For example, I’ve learned that you need to leave the emotion out of your purchase. You have to buy what you need, not what you might want. It also doesn’t matter that you might need to buy your vehicle second-hand, but when you are making your purchase, do so from a reputable dealer. Also, it pays to do your research!
Another thing I’ve learned about buying a car over the years are that new, cheap imports should be avoided. More often than not there are insufficient service centres and the parts are costly. I have this on good authority.
Finally, if you do buy new, realise that it is a depreciating asset so if you wish to maintain any sort of resale value, don’t skimp on the maintenance. Be sure you service your vehicle regularly, keep it clean (and occasionally polished), and maintain your log book services because these things add value when you are looking to resell.
I’ve no doubt most over-60s are aware of such tips, but if you think about your children or your grandchildren, it never hurts to pass on our experiences.