Buying your first car for travelling may sound like a massive investment and a big step, but actually, it is a very cost-effective choice! There are many options to choose from when looking for a car that can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. With this guide, we will show you all the steps in the process of buying your car in New Zealand!
- Think about your budget
At first, you want to figure out what your budget is. It is important to have a prince range that you are willing to invest. However, don’t hold on to the budget to firmly as this will be a great investment for your travel. Remember you will save costs from tours that require transport and expensive accommodation.
- Type of Car
Then what you want to do is figure out what vehicle type you want for your travel. Your best options are (in no particular order);
What you should consider is that a four wheel drive generally has a bigger engine, which means more power, but also that they are less economical. A van is your best option when space is important to you. Tall people (>1.85 m), keep in mind that in most of the Japanese vans you will not fit, read more about this experience in our previous blog post. Lastly, station waggons are relatively spacious and probably the most economical to drive.Once that is sorted with, you want to figure out what fuel type you are after. Petrol is most convenient if you travel short distances i.e. to the city centre and back, whereas diesel cars are preferable for longer distances, which most likely will be the case when you are travelling. Besides, diesel cars are often capable of achieving greater mileage, and fuel is a bit cheaper than petrol. Generally speaking, this makes diesel cars more expensive, but this is all dependent on build year and mileage.Something else that is worth looking into is an automatic gearbox. We found it very convenient as we often end up driving uphill or downtown which requires a lot of focus, especially in a new country.
- Where to buy your car
In general almost every hostel you’ll walk into has a notice board with many car offers waiting for you. Although this looks convenient at first, think carefully before you act. Now I am not judging backpackers in any form or way (as I am one myself), but you should consider how people drive their cars knowing that they will only use it for maybe 6 to 12 months. Get what I mean? They are going to sell it anyways..Preferably you could go online and check out some of the local car dealers, re-sellers or even car fair where you can place a bid for your new vehicle! It does not guarantee that the cars are in a better state, but my philosophy is; “ if the car is really crap, the dealer would never have bought it in the first place” right? On top of that, car dealers usually have a whole array of different cars. This allows you to compare cars very easily, so you can narrow down what you are looking for.
- Take it for a spin!
It amazes me how often I hear that other people have bought their vehicles without even driving in them. Eventually, it all comes down to driving so you can see how the brakes respond, what the acceleration is and if the wheels are still in some way aligned.Tip: Discuss with the owner in forehand where you want to go and how long you think it might take. You’ll notice immediately if he or she is okay with that. Don’t be afraid to take it for a while, as you want to drive it on the highway as well!Some things you can check yourself:
- Tire wear and tear
- Oil ( take off oil lid and check if there is no white deposit)
- Handbrake ( for manual gearbox, put it in second and accelerate)
- Ask when timing chain has been replaced ( this has to be done every 50.000 to 80.000 km)
After the test drive, your gut feeling will tell you if it is the right choice or not! That along with a bit of trust in the seller is all you need to buy your vehicle.
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Insurance! In most countries, it is stated by law that you are obliged to have a car insurance, not all countries, though (New Zealand). I would always recommend getting insurance straight away. You’ll want to look at the options but get a third-party insurance. You will be far more relaxed while driving.
Warrant of Fitness (WOF)
You’ll find this abbreviation at almost every single garage in New Zealand. It is a warrant that makes your car road legal.
If you are looking to buy an old car, make sure to check when the WOF was conducted, as older cars need to be checked every six months. You can check the dates on the windscreen. It is mandatory to have a valid WOF and it can be very costly to pay for a new warrant, so make sure to check this out before buying your car!
Have any questions you would like to ask? Feel free to send us a message in the comments below or check out our own blog where I share more stories about New Zealand, how we built our van into a backpackers ride and where I share my love for photography. You can find our site here.