Upfront costs when buying a car

When buying a car in Australia, be aware that the actual cost of the car includes more than just the advertised purchase price – there are additional costs that you will need to budget for.


Dealer delivery is a charge set by the dealer. It covers expenses that the dealer will incur in selling the car – such as cleaning the car, compliance, administrative costs and the cost of holding the vehicle prior to the sale.


Stamp duty will be an additional cost – and this varies depending on which state you are in.


Goods and services tax (GST) is a broad-based tax of 10 per cent on most goods sold in Australia. If you are buying a luxury vehicle, be aware of the Luxury Car Tax, which is 33 per cent on the GST-inclusive value of the car over the relevant threshold.


Any extras that you order for the vehicle will normally also cost you extra. The advertised price usually only covers the minimum, i.e. the base model with everything stock standard. If you are buying the vehicle with extras such as ABS, automatic transmission, metallic paint and any upgraded trim, expect that you will be paying additional costs for these extras. You could be surprised when presented with the total purchase price of the vehicle if you are unaware that the floor mats, stereo upgrade, mirror and light protectors, body kits, spoilers, window tinting, rust proofing and so on that you are accepting as they are offered to you, are all adding to your eventual bill. If you are considering any of these optional extras – ask for the price before you make a decision, and use every opportunity to negotiate for some of them to be included in the base price of the vehicle, if you can.


In addition, you will need to cover the cost of registering your vehicle, as well as compulsory third party insurance, fire/theft or comprehensive insurance. These costs will also need to be paid annually when renewed. Any vehicle that is sold as an unregistered vehicle will incur the cost of number plates.


It is so easy to forget about all of these items when swept away in the enthusiasm and excitement of buying a new car. Being prepared and aware enables you to budget accordingly, and also positions you to ask the right questions and equips you to negotiate where appropriate.


Interested in purchasing a car but want to find out more about any costs involved? Contact us on 1300 889 256 or message us to find out more! 


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Fuel Efficiency

Fuel economy indicates the distance a vehicle can travel on a certain amount of fuel, and is measured in litres per 100 km or in kilometres per litre in Australia. The more fuel you need to put into your car, the more your vehicle is going to cost you to run.


The fuel economy of a vehicle is impacted by a number of design considerations, such as size, shape, engine type. It is important to think carefully about fuel economy when buying a car – some cars will be more efficient than others. When you compare cars with different fuel economies, it is important to understand that the car with the better fuel economy will use less fuel to travel the same distance, having a lower impact on your wallet as well as the environment. Cars with good fuel economy are often referred to as “green” or environmentally friendly. Smaller vehicles and hybrid vehicles have better fuel economy than larger vehicles such as four-wheel drives. The more powerful the engine, the less the fuel economy, generally speaking. The Green Vehicle Guide rates all new Australian passenger, four-wheel drive and light commercial vehicles based on fuel consumption, and greenhouse and air pollution emissions. It also includes data on all models sold from 2004 onwards.


Apart from choosing a car with good fuel economy, there are some things that you can do to reduce your car’s fuel consumption.


  • Don’t accelerate or brake excessively.
  • Choose the right gear, and drive smoothly – stop/start driving kills your fuel economy.
  • If you own a four-wheel drive leave your car in 2WD (most 4WDs offer you this option) to increase your fuel efficiency when you are driving on normal road surfaces
  • Avoid driving in peak hour or on congested roads.
  • Watch your speed; your vehicle’s fuel efficiency decreases dramatically at higher speeds (you may use up to 25% more fuel at 110 km/h than at 90km/h).
  • Maintain your vehicle-  have your vehicle serviced regularly according to the manufactirer’s guidelines. Check tyre pressure, as incorrect tyre pressure may reduce your vehicle’s efficiency by up to 3% and may also reduce the life of the tyre by 10%.
  • An extra 40kgs in your car could reduce your fuel efficiency by 1%. Remove any items fron your car that are not necessary for your journey.
  • Limit the use of your vehicle’s air conditioning system. Air conditioning can have a huge impact on your fuel economy. Try to keep your car cooler to begin with, so choose a car with a light paint colour, park in shady spots, crack the windows slightly while parked and before driving on hot days to let the hot air escape and use a windshield screen wherever possible.
  • Minimise drag. Try not to drive with open windows, or with roof racks or rooftop storage unless you have to, as this can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent.
  • Use the right fuel. Follow your car manufacturer’s recommendation.


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Awds, Fwd or Rwd – What Is the Difference?

The automobile or drivetrain layout describes where on the vehicle the engine and drive wheels are found. There are many different combinations of engine location and driven wheels -factors influencing the design choice include cost, complexity, reliability, packaging (location and size of the passenger compartment and boot), weight distribution, and the vehicle’s intended handling characteristics.
Layouts can roughly be divided into two categories: front- or rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel-drive vehicles may take on the characteristics of either, depending on how power is distributed to the wheels.
Most cars these days are front-wheel driven – cheaper layout, safest and lightest with the best interior space. Rear-wheel driven cars will provide higher sporting performance, usually found only in higher powered cars, and good for fast laps or powersliding. With modern vehicles, most people will not really be able to tell the difference.
In most traditional 4WD vehicles, the drive from the engine is sent to the rear wheels by default, through a box known as a transfer case.
All-wheel drive (AWD) doesn’t use a transfer case, but uses a system that delivers torque to where it’s needed most, still allowing for individual axle speeds. In many AWD systems, the engine drives a front-mounted gearbox, which drives the front axle through the front differential first. Some of them power the centre differential first which can then send most of the torque to the rear axle – so not all AWD vehicles are the same.
An on-demand AWD vehicle runs in two-wheel drive (normally front wheels) by default – but when the front wheels begin to spin, sensors detect the loss of traction and redirect torque to the other axle to ensure maximum grip. The reduced friction of driving two wheels most of the time will use less fuel that a full-time AWD system.
In most Australian road conditions, all you need is a two-wheel, front-wheel drive. If you want to race in a high powered vehicle, you will choose a rear-wheel drive.You would go for an AWD vehicle if you need the safety of all-wheel traction in conditions like dirt roads, snow or wet and cold mountain roads, and then a constant all-wheel system is best, with next-best being the on-demand systems. True 4WD systems are really only needed for really rough terrain, or extremely muddy conditions.

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Car Safety features to look out for

You want a car that will be as safe as possible – but are you having difficulty decoding the various acronyms and descriptions of safety features that manufacturers include in their specification write-ups? What should you spend your money on, and what is not worth the additional cost?


Airbags are one of the safety features that you should not be doing without – covering as much of the interior of the vehicle as possible, especially those focussing on head protection and side impact, as well as driver knee protection.


Cameras and sensors that help you to park your car safely are important safety features – not necessarily for the driver and passengers – but for those people around your car.


A nice to have feature is rear-cross traffic alert, which will warn you of potential dangers behind you even when not visible to you. What happens here is that sensors in the rear corners of the vehicle scan for any out-of-sight traffic behind you and provide an alert if necessary.


Adaptive cruise control (ACC) will allow you to set your required speed, and automatically reduce speed if the vehicle comes up behind a slower moving car.


Auto emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning can stop your vehicle and avoid cars or obstacles ahead. In some cars the system operates only for lower speeds, and in others, a warning is provided to the driver if a potential collision is identified – this technology is applied differently in various vehicle makes and models.


Blind-spot monitoring will warn you by lighting up an area of your side mirror when a car is alongside you that you may not see.


Lane departure monitoring will provide you with an alert if you are travelling on a road marked by clear lanes, and you veer outside of the white lines. Some systems even make minor corrections to your steering inputs to ensure that you stay on course.


Electronic Stability Control will stop a car from sliding and a driver from losing control. Stability-control programs – which monitor the position of your car and can apply the brakes to the inside wheels and/or reduce power to keep you in a straight line – prevent an unknowably large number of car accidents every year. The Electronic Stability Control is mandated by law in new cars, but if you are looking at a used car, do ensure that the vehicle comes equipped with this safety feature.


Fatigue Monitoring System (FMS) has the ability to notice when you’re tired – simply by measuring your steering inputs and pedal movements – and warn you.


When deciding on which car to purchase, safety features should play a role. Be sure to let your car broker know which features you are most looking for. Contact us on 1300889256 or message us today to start your car buying journey.


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Understanding run-flat tyres

With a “normal” tyre, if you get a puncture you will lose steering control, and in addition – you are exposed to added danger when you stop at the side of the road to change the tyre.


Run flat tyres (also known as mobility tyres) will not deflate suddenly if you get a puncture. How does this work? The tyre has a thicker sidewall which is made from heat resistant rubber, and is reinforced. The tyre will safely carry the weight of your car for a short period of time – even with total loss of air pressure. This allows you to drive on until you get to a service centre to have the tyre fixed or replaced.


Run flat tyres are around 25% more expensive – but this covers the convenience of not having to stop to change a tyre, possibly in unsafe surroundings. These tyres normally have a recommended speed limit of 80 km/h and can be driven for up to 150 km when punctured. Another advantage is that you don’t have to carry a spare tyre – giving you more storage and meaning that your vehicle is carrying less weight. One disadvantage of run flat tyres is that they can affect the ride quality as a result of the way in which the tyre is constructed.


A next generation in run flat tyres has a thinner side wall together with two new heat suppressing technologies that limit tyre distortion – with a resultant improved ride comfort and safety.


With run flat tyres, you should have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) in your vehicle. Because run flat tyres are designed to minimise the difference in ride quality when the tyre is punctured, it may be difficult for you to realise that a tyre has lost pressure or is operating without any pressure at all. If you are unaware that you have a puncture, you may well exceed the speed and/or distance safety limits imposed by the manufacturer.


Some run flat tyres are not repairable. If you are unsure whether your run flat tyres are repairable or not, consult the specific manufacturer recommendations for your tyres.


If you’d like to find out more about run flats for your car, let us know! Contact us on 1300889256 or message us today!


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Understanding Towing and load limit guidelines

It is important to be aware that many manufacturers have specific conditions for their vehicles when used for towing. You need to refer to your vehicle manufacturer’s handbook, before towing – and even before buying a vehicle as the cost of additional or mandatory vehicle equipment may influence your buying decision. Always adhere to the conditions set by the manufacturer for towing with your vehicle – as failure to do so may void your warranty, cause mechanical damage or even result in an accident where you may possibly not be covered by your insurance.

Loading your vehicle

Unladen (empty) weight : This is how much your vehicle weighs when empty, referred to as kerb weight and tare weight depending on the manufacturer. ’Tare’ means empty but with water in the radiator, all of the lubricants on board and a token amount of fuel. ‘Kerb’ means all the fuel on board and sometimes 75kg added for the driver – although some manufacturers use their own definitions for this weight, and there is no universal standard. For all practical purposes both terms refer to an empty vehicle.

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) : This is the total allowed weight of the vehicle – including all the passengers, fluids, equipment – everything except the weight of the trailer, and is specified by the manufacturer.

So – for your vehicle, get the GVM and subtract the unladen weight, and the difference will be the amount of weight that you can load into your vehicle (payload capacity).

Trailers have tare weights and gross weights as do vehicles. Tow capacity is the GVM or gross weight of the trailer.

Towing and Loads

If you are towing a trailer without brakes, the maximum tow capacity of your vehicle as per your manufacturer’s handbook will refer to the GVM of the vehicle plus the GVM of the trailer – ie the weight of your vehicle fully loaded including passengers plus the weight of your loaded trailer.

If you are towing a trailer with brakes such as a caravan, the maximum tow capacity specified will refer to the heavier of the GVM of your vehicle and the GVM of the item being towed.

Obviously, it is probably not a good idea to load your vehicle to maximum payload, and then hook up a trailer that is at the upper limit of the tow capacity. A specification called Gross Combination Mass (GCM) deals with this risk – this should be defined in your vehicle handbook.

Towball download is the download limit specified by your vehicle manufacturer – this is the actual load that is imposed by the trailer in its most heavily loaded state. Specialist tow places or public weighbridges can measure this for you. This is important especially in Australia, where we generally get trailers designed for a 10% download, which may mean that fully loaded, trailer may exceed your vehicle manufacturer’s limit.

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Do you understand all the lights on your dashboard?

Most of us only look at speed and fuel – and when anything else lights up on the dashboard of our cars, we either ignore it, hoping it will go away, or panic.


These days, the dashboard indicators can be complex – more expensive models with added features have even more indicators on the dashboard – so it’s no wonder that it appears confusing. The average car has around 25 dashboard indicators – while more expensive models such as Mercedes Benz can have more than 40. The more complex the vehicle, the more potential there is for serious mechanical or electronic damage.


The first thing to know is that the colour of the indicator will indicate the seriousness of the issue – red, orange, blue/white/green. If the indicator is red or orange – pull over immediately and consult your car’s manual. Red will indicate a problem that might cause damage to your vehicle if you continue to drive – and you will need to obtain immediate assistance. Orange is a warning indicator that means that you can continue to drive but need to seek assistance at the earliest opportunity. Blue/white or green indicators are informational, and may indicate when something is either switched on or functioning automatically.


Here is a list of common car warning lights:


  • Front Fog light on (can also be green)
  • Power steering fluid low
  • Rear fog light on
  • Windscreen washer fluid low
  • Brake pad warning
  • Cruise control on
  • Direction indicators
  • Rain and light sensor problem
  • Winter driving mode
  • Information indicator
  • Glow plug/diesel pre heat warning
  • Frost warning
  • Ignition switch warning
  • Key not in vehicle
  • Key fob battery low
  • Distance warning (to car in front)
  • Press clutch pedal to start car
  • Press brake pedal
  • Steering lock warning
  • Highbeam headlights on


If, at any time, you are not sure what the problem is, call roadside assistance or your NRMA car service centre, or your car manufacturer for advice.


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Technology to save kids left in hot cars?


With all of the technological advances that have been made in safety systems for vehicles, we still don’t have anything that could possibly assist in cases where drivers are alerted to children forgotten or left in car seats in cars – especially in hot conditions.

World wide, there are an average of 37 child deaths per year after having been left in hot cars for lengthy periods of time – of which 54% are the result of forgetful caregivers. In Victoria, Australia, 22-month old Noah Zunde died of heatstroke after having been left in a car all day by a mother suffering from “forgotten baby syndrome” – one of five children to have died in Australia in the past 10 years after being left in cars. The coroner’s report into this sad event has noted the lack of design standards in cars and called for the introduction of sensory technology to be used to alter parents when their children are left in the car.

Examples of these types of design features could include specialist mirrors which give parents a line of sight to the child once the car is locked, and video monitoring systems that beam a video of the child in the back seat to the driver – a reminder to the parents that they still have a child in the car. Some manufacturers in the USA are looking at including a logic sensor that can tell when a trip has begun, and can detect whether the rear door has been opened at the start of the trip, but not opened once the trip has ended. The car then provides a warning in the form of a beeping sound or warning light. Nissan is launching their version as “rear door alert” starting in the 2018 edition of the Pathfinder, and GM has “rear seat reminder” starting in the 2017 Holden Arcadia. Both of these systems use similar logic – and will sound the alert is anything is put on the rear seat at the start of the trip (not necessarily a child).

The busy working nature of many parent’s lives has made them more susceptible to accidentally forgetting their children. While the use of technology would not be a certain way of preventing such tragedies – anything that could help to reduce such incidents would save lives.