Buying a new car? When to save and when to splurge

Posted by: Cal on 17/12/2013

Category: General

If you're taking the plunge and buying a new car in 2014, you might be weighing up your options in terms of make, model, and perhaps most importantly, price.

Car affordability in Australia is at its best level in 37 years, meaning now is a better time than ever to invest in a new set of wheels. When it comes to selecting the perfect vehicle, there are a few things you can  scrimp on, and others you should invest the money in.


Car tyres are some of the most important features of your vehicle, and are vital to ensuring the safety of you, your loved ones, and others on the road.

Changing your tyres is one of the simplest and most effective ways of improving the performance of your car. Look at a tyre's wear and safety rating, plus its traction and temperature rating for a good indication of how well your tyres will protect you and your vehicle. High ratings ensure your tyres will stick to wet roads and resist blowing out.

If you can afford to splurge on car tyres, a decent set will repay you with endurance, performance and safety.

Entertainment systems

If your family loves to take road trips, built-in DVD players on the backs of seats may be near the top of your must-have list. For the average driver, however, they are an unnecessary extra.

Added features like personal DVD players, a top-of-the-line stereo and speaker system and seat warmers can all add a touch of luxury to your car, but think about how much value they will really add to your driving experience. If these options drive the price of a vehicle up, consider other alternatives before you splurge.

A portable tablet device or handheld DVD players can be shared between kids in the backseat and isn't limited to use in the car, meaning it may be a much more cost effective alternative to in-seat players.

Driving with loud music can lead to driver distraction and cause you to miss important traffic sounds, so a booming speaker system may not be the best choice. A standard radio should usually suffice.

Colour and appearance

For many people, a car they like the look of is absolutely essential. If you have a big budget, feel free to customise your paint choice and interior decor to your heart's content! Many of us, however, will be limited in what we can spend, and a safe car is much more important than the one that looks the best in the car park.

Keep an open mind when shopping for cars, especially when it comes to how they look. Having your heart set on a specific colour, especially if it's rare or unusual, is a surefire way to drive up the price. Deciding simply on a certain model may help you get a better deal, as you'll have more options at your fingertips and can simply select the one at the lowest price.

Reconsider those leather seats, too. Unless you frequently drive long distances and love that leather feel, these are often an unnecessary add-on if you're trying to stick to a budget. Plus, think about how hot leather gets on warm days!

Safety features

Safety features such as ABS brakes, rear vision cameras, airbags and electronic stability control can all help give you a safer ride, looking after others on the road too. While many of these features are or will become standard on new models, older cars on the market may not feature them, so think twice before you purchase a vehicle without these safety standards.