Tips for Buying a Car Online

Here's Bingle's guide to buying a new or second-hand car online, and some tips about car insurance too.

There's plenty to consider if you're buying a new car online. Check out our top five tips to help you feel more prepared.

Do your research on cars

Work out a list of what makes and models you're interested in and start researching. Then you can check out car sale sites and compare the different options. Think about what you need now and what you might need in the next few years (i.e. if you're planning to start a family, that two-door convertible might not be a logical choice). Think about whether you want a brand new car, or if it's worth buying second-hand.

Struggling to narrow down your options and make a short-list? Ask friends and family for their thoughts and read plenty of third-party reviews.

Ask the right questions if you're buying second-hand

If you've found a car (or a short-list of cars) that meets your criteria, it's time to get in touch with the seller. But before you organise to meet in person and inspect the car, ask a few questions first. For example, how many owners has the car had? What was it primarily used for? Is there any existing damage? Has the car been in any accidents? If it's a private seller, perhaps it's even worth asking why they are selling the car? You could also try sounding out if there's any flexibility in the price before you meet and start negotiating properly.

If you end up deciding to buy the car, check for things like:

  • Proof of ownership
  • Current registration paperwork
  • State roadworthy certificate, and
  • Safety check report (sometimes known as pink or green slip, or a roadworthy certificate).

Check on the Australian Government Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) for any outstanding debt owed on the car, if for example, it was financed.

Book a test drive

  • Even if you've found a car online that you're happy with and it ticks all your boxes, you'll probably still want to test drive the car. This gives you the chance to make sure you're happy with how the car drives, and double check it's in the condition it's advertised as.
  • Try to take the car for a decent drive, not just around the block.
  • Ask yourself how the brakes are? What's the steering like? How's the turning circle? Does the car have enough power?
  • If you're buying a car with someone else (your partner, for example) make sure you both have a turn driving the car, to make sure you're both happy.
  • Once you've had a drive, take some time to check the car's interior. Make sure everything works as expected inside (think aircon, radio, reverse camera etc) and check out the boot and back seat – is there as much room as you need? Is there any damage? Then, look for signs of wear and tear/scratches on the outside of the car, and don't forget to check the tires.
  • There are plenty of things to look for when buying a new car – this isn't a full list. Consider taking along a trusted friend or family member for a second opinion, and/or write down everything you want to check when you meet the seller in person.

Negotiate the price

  • First, make sure you know what you want to spend – set a clear budget that includes the cost of the car plus other ongoing expenses (insurance, servicing etc). When negotiating with a dealer or private seller, it's ok to be flexible and keep an open mind, but be firm with the maximum you can afford to spend.
  • Another thing to remember is this: knowledge is power. Check out what similar cars are selling for. If you do some research before making an offer, you'll have a sense of what a reasonable asking price is.
  • Be friendly and polite – making a reasonable offer and having the cash/deposit ready to incentivise the seller is a good way to start negotiations. But, don't be afraid to 'walk away' (or, if you are negotiating online/over the phone, simply say you need time to think before committing, if you aren't comfortable).

Get your car insurance sorted

When buying a new car, you'll also probably start to thinking about car insurance.

In some states Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is part of the cost of registering your car. In other states you may have to take it out separately. Refer to your state or territory's road authority for more information.

CTP provides cover for compensation claims from people injured in a motor vehicle accident, but it doesn't cover damage to your vehicle, other vehicles or property. That's where Bingle car insurance can come in.

While Bingle doesn't offer CTP, we do offer Comprehensive Car Insurance and Third Party Car Insurance:

  • Comprehensive Car Insurance covers accidental loss or damage to your car, including damage caused by collisions, theft and natural events. It also covers up to $20m legal liability to cover accidental damage to other people's vehicles and property caused by the use of your car.
  • With Third Party Car Insurance, you're covered for accidental damage to someone else's vehicle or property caused by the use of your car (up to $20 million in legal liability cover). However, you won't be covered by Bingle for any damage to your own car if you have an accident – so if you want this type of cover, consider Comprehensive Car Insurance.

For full inclusions and exclusions, please refer to the PDS.