Buying a car is exciting, but it also brings financial obligations. If you are thinking about getting behind the wheel, it is time to carefully review the costs associated with buying a car.
First and foremost, you need to choose the right car.
Buy a car that matches your driving habits and budget. You may be able to find a great car which is less costly if you buy a used model. Car dealers often have a selection of late-model used cars traded in by other customers. A used car can also be bought from private individuals who advertise online or in newspapers, but the car’s paperwork needs to be in order. Check this out!
- It is always a good idea to have an independent mechanic to give the car you choose a close inspection.
- Remember to research all options. Newspapers, websites and magazines are good sources of information. Go online and visit manufacturers and dealers’ websites. Use social media to read reviews and comments from other car buyers. Finally, visit dealerships and discuss your needs with sales staff.
Can you afford a car? It is not just the purchase price of a car you have to consider. There are quite a few additional expenses such as:
- registration / license fee.
- repairs and maintenance.
- parking fees.
These can add up to a significant amount.
If you will not / cannot pay for your car outright, you will need to finance the purchase. Your options include:
- Bank loan.
Speak to a bank representative and see how much you can borrow. You will then know exactly how much you can spend and how much your monthly repayments will be. A good way to reduce the monthly repayments is to start with a sizeable down payment (an initial payment made when something is bought).
- Dealer financing.
Many dealers offer vehicle financing options. Be aware that dealer financing may cost more than a bank loan, so make sure you know and understand all the repayment terms and conditions beforehand.
Leasing means you do not own the car; instead you pay to use it over the length of the lease. Typically, lease repayments are more than bank loan payments, and you are locked into the lease period, and there are penalty fees if you break the lease. When the lease period is over, you can return the car to the dealer or buy it at an agreed price.
Motor insurance is insurance to cover loss or damage to third parties and, depending on the policy, your car as well. The loss can be a result of having to repair your car following an accident for example, or paying compensation to a third party for the property damage, bodily injury or death. Coverage, however, varies according to the policies.
Under Maltese legislation, it is compulsory to take out insurance with an authorised insurer to cover your liabilities for injury or death of third parties arising out of the use of your motor vehicle.
Just as the case in buying your car, you should research different options for motor insurance and select one that best fits your needs.
Consider taking these steps to keep your motoring costs low:
- Think Long Term
A small but new car may be more efficient to run than a fancy second hand car. The new car will come with a guarantee and the fact is, it is brand new. The second hand car will have a history and too often you will not know whether you would have made a bargain until you buy it.
- Think small
A smaller car and a smaller engine can make a big difference to saving fuel costs.
- Drive less frequently
Just because you own a car does not mean that you always need to drive it. It can save not only your money but also wear and tear on your vehicle. There are health benefits of walking.
- Consolidate your trips
When you need to use your car, plan your trips so that you can go to multiple destinations all on the same trip instead of making separate trips.
- Drive carefully
Driving carefully keeps you and others safe as well as well as saves you costs on repair and maintenance.
- Watch your spending
Always keep an eye on how much you are spending on your car and review every now and then, if you still need to keep a car.
It may cost a few hundred Euros but getting a professional inspection on a second-hand car will uncover any problems that can be even more expensive to fix later on.
Check the odometer reading on your car and the number of miles/kilometers traveled. Check that the odometer does not look as if it has been tampered with. The numbers should line up and the kilometers should match the service history in the car’s log book.
If you are buying a second-hand car, it is a good idea to take someone with you who knows what to look for.
Make sure that you test drive the car before you buy it. If possible get a professional car technician to test drive the car for you. In the event you decide to test drive the car yourself you should check the following:
|Steering||Excessive ‘free travel’ or wandering on straight roads can indicate worn suspension or misaligned steering.|
|Brakes||The car should stop smoothly and in a straight line. The pedal should not sink to the floor or feel spongy and the steering wheel should not vibrate.|
|Exhaust||Blue smoke indicates oil is burning.|
|Engine||Should run smoothly (accelerating, decelerating and cruising) and the water temperature gauge should stay in the safe range. Rattling or knocking could mean incorrect tuning or excessive wear|
|Gearbox||Gear changes (manual and automatic) should be smooth, without any rattles or knocking noises. On front-wheel drive vehicles, these noises could indicate worn constant-velocity joints.|
|Suspension and bodywork||Listen for rattles when you drive over bumps. It is also wise to have the car inspected by a reputable mechanic.|
Before taking the car for a test drive, check with the seller that the seller has an insurance policy that covers you during your test drive if an accident occurs.