• What to consider when buying a new car

    Buying a new car is a big decision. Next to buying a home, it’s probably one of the most significant investments you’ll make, which can make it a pretty daunting experience. That’s where we can help. We’ve pulled together a range of research, advice and products to help you buy your next new or used car with confidence.  

  • Quick tips for buying a car

    • Do plenty of research 
    • Consider how and where you drive 
    • Check the car’s fuel consumption 
    • Work out a budget and shop around

With all the different types of cars available on the market, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one is right for you. As you read through reviews and make comparisons, always consider your budget and how you’ll be using your vehicle. The distances you drive, the cost of future maintenance and whether or not you’ll be driving alone or with a family all plays a role in determining which make and model is best for you.

Doing your homework, planning ahead and shopping around to find the best deal can save a lot of money and stress. When you buy a new car, always keep in mind whether you have enough saved for registration, car insurance and ongoing running costs, like servicing, maintenance and petrol.

Safety is always important, but especially so when you’re looking at buying a second-hand vehicle. It’s important to check the history of the car to see if there’s any underlying damage or maintenance issues that aren’t immediately obvious. For new cars, you may want to consider whether the vehicle has blind-spot sensors, a rear-view camera or lane departure warning.

Family-safe cars

If you have young children, you’ll need to consider whether the car you’re interested in is suitable for their transportation. This involves checking whether existing child restraints you own – such as a booster seat or baby capsule - fit in the new car; or whether you’ll need to buy new ones. We suggest taking your child restraints with you when you go car shopping, and consider the following:


  • Choose a car with a good safety rating. For new vehicles check out ANCAP safety ratings, and for older vehicles look at the Used Car Safety Rating.
  • Children 12 years and younger shouldn’t be seated in the front seat as the force airbags deploy in the event of an accident. Therefore, you might want to consider a car with plenty of space in the rear. 
  • Learn more about child safety and child restraints.


  • Check to see if the rear seats can take two or three restraints, and that a front passenger will still have enough leg room with a restraint fitted.
  • Two-door vehicles can be very difficult for fitting restraints. Getting children in and out of restraints can also be very awkward.

Anchor points

  • Check the number and position of anchor points. Restraints use a tether strap to attach to these anchor points. A poorly positioned anchor point can mean the tether strap can severely reduce luggage room, e.g. for things like prams and shopping.
  • Make sure there’s enough room between the back seat and the anchor so that the tether strap can be adjusted properly.
  • People movers seem ideal, but some do not have anchor points for each seat position. Also keep in mind that the tether strap and size of some child restraints can reduce the seating capacity, so make sure this is not an issue.
  • If buying a new car, ask the dealer for fittings for each anchor point as they’ are often not supplied.


  • A car with a centre lap/sash seatbelt in the rear is safer than one with just a lap belt. Most new cars have this. Fortunately newer cars usually have lap/sash belts all around.
  • Make sure the seatbelts are long enough. Some are too short to thread through child car seats when in the recline position.

For more tips and advice, visit our Child Safety page.


Your choice of vehicle and the way you drive can make a big difference to the impact you leave on the environment. By choosing a car with low CO2 emissions, planning your route ahead of time or perhaps switching to an electric vehicle, you can make a real difference.

Choosing a greener car

Fuel consumption label

Green Vehicle Guide – an Australian Government initiative – is a helpful resource you can use to help reduce your impact on the environment by making a conscious decision about the type of car you want to buy. It features:

You can also learn about greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions and fuel consumption labels.  

Fuel consumption labels

Fuel consumption labelling on all new cars aims to help car buyers choose a car. Model-specific labels on the windscreen of new vehicles give an indication of how many litres of fuel the car would use to travel 100km in particular driving conditions, i.e. a combination of city and highway. (Actual consumption will depend on a range of factors, including traffic and weather conditions, vehicle maintenance and driving style.)

The label also indicates the amount of carbon dioxide and the main greenhouse gas that will be emitted. – the lower the better. Visit the fuel consumption website for more information.

The greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption information on the label is the same as that in the Green Vehicle Guide.

Fuel consumption guide

When buying a used car, refer to the Australian Government's Fuel Consumption Guide Database. It provides comparative data on the fuel consumption of many vehicles sold in Australia between 1986 and 2003. When comparing vehicles of the same fuel type, the higher the fuel consumption, the higher the greenhouse gas emissions.

Fuel types

Different fuel types also result in different levels of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Provided they are operating properly, diesel, LPG and CNG engines emit fewer greenhouse gases than conventional petrol engines. CNG also results in less air pollution than regular fuels. Diesel produces more particles than other fuels. Electric vehicles produce no emissions themselves, however, greenhouse gases and air pollutants are emitted when electricity is made from fossil fuels such as brown coal. Visit Green Wheels, an online guide enabling consumers to assess greenhouse emissions of all passenger cars sold in Australia.

Vehicle types and sizes

Different types of cars can also have varying have different impacts on the environment. The size, weight and type of engine type of a car can affect its fuel consumption and therefore its emissions. Emission controls also differ between cars.

In general, larger cars are less efficient because they are heavier and need more energy (fuel) to move around. Modern engine technologies mean that newer cars tend to use less fuel than older cars of the same size. However, the added weight and power required for automatic transmission and extras such as air-conditioners can reduce the efficiency gains of newer technologies.

The emission control technologies used in a car affect the amount of air pollution emitted. For example, catalytic converters which were introduced to Australian cars in the mid-1980s substantially reduced air pollution levels. Emission standards for cars have been getting stricter over the past 20 years and will continue to improve. Some overseas cars are equipped with pollution controls that are better than current Australian requirements.

If you have a choice between cars, choose the most efficient and least polluting car that meets your particular needs for everyday motoring. Choosing a newer car over an older car of the same size will tend to mean less air pollution (provided the newer car is well maintained).

Preserve your car’s performance and reduce future repair costs by conducting regular maintenance checks, sticking to a service schedule, staying on top of wear and tear and keeping your car clean. 

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