With more Aussies looking to purchase a set of wheels, advance preparation can go a long way towards saving you money, writes Neil Stedman.

New car sales are set to reach another one million in sales in 2014, showing that Australian’s are in love with owning a new car.

What’s more, September’s St. George-Melbourne-Institute Household Conditions Index reported one in five Australians were saving to buying a new car – the highest level the index has seen in five years.

Aussies seemed to be favouring small cars which hold the highest volume of sales, followed by SUV’s which continue to drive new car sales. So for those in the market for a new vehicle, now is a good time to start buying!

Dealers are very willing to discount over Christmas and New Year. Not only do they need to make room in their showroom for the 2015 models, it is also one of their slowest sales periods.

As long as you know your budget and are realistic about what you can afford – you can be driving away with a good deal over the silly season.

If you’re using finance then knowing how much you can borrow and what your car repayments will be first, almost always helps. Online calculators such as those on our St. George website help provide a good guide, as does talking to your dealer and being clear about your budget and repayments before you take a look around.

Neil Stedman, Head of auto finance at St George Bank

Neil Stedman, Head of auto finance at St George Bank

Top tips to car buying:

Set a budget and stick to it – this is the most important step to ensure you don’t get swept up in the moment on a vehicle you really like, but simply can’t afford. Know the price range you are shopping in and what your repayments will be if you are going to finance.

Knowledge is power – the more knowledge you have, the more secure you’ll feel in your decision. Read reviews, look at resale value, ask around and use a recommended dealer.

Factor in any extras: consider the vehicles petrol economy, maintenance and repair costs as well as insurance premiums on that make and model.

Know your trade in value – if you’re trading in an old car, do your research on the trade in value to make sure you are getting a fair price from the dealer.

Be patient and willing to shop around – don’t get swept up in the moment. Once you see a car you like, shop around all different avenues on the make and model to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.

Call 3235 6701 to discover how St.George can help you get the wheels you need!