Buying a Car in New Zealand

Articles > Buying a Car in New Zealand

If you have decided to buy a new car to celebrate your arrival in New Zealand, there are 38 different car manufacturers to choose from according to the AA. So, whether you’re after a sensible family vehicle or a car to impress, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Buying a Second-Hand Car
Buying a second-hand car in New Zealand is a safer option than buying one in South Africa. In South Africa, car owners only need to get a Certificate of Roadworthiness when they sell their vehicle. This means that someone can have owned a car for years and never had it serviced or checked, until it comes to selling.

In New Zealand, the equivalent of the CoR is call the WoF (Warrant of Fitness) and all vehicles registered on or after 1st January 2000 must have a WoF on first registration, after three years and then every year after that. Vehicles manufactured before 2000, need a WoF every six months. If only they did this in South Africa, there would be far fewer road accidents.

Buying a second-hand car privately is a risk no matter which country you live in but New Zealand does have various bodies that you can go to, should the vehicle you have bought suffer from any problems and the previous owner isn’t willing to assist.

There are many places where you can find second-hand cars for sale: –

  • Car fairs are very popular in major cities
  • Online adverts
  • Classifieds in newspapers and magazines
  • Car dealers
  • Trade Me
  • AA Carfair
  • Ads on local noticeboards – clubs, shops etc

Car Finance
Eighty per cent of cars in New Zealand are financed. There are many financial institutions that you can arrange finance with, including your own bank.

Car Inspections and History
If your knowledge of cars stops at checking whether it has four wheels and an engine under the bonnet, then enlist someone who knows about cars to inspect your prospective vehicle. The AA also offer pre-purchase car inspections and valuation reports. You should also get a Vehicle History report which will tell you if there’s any finance outstanding on the vehicle, whether it’s been re-registered (possibly due to an insurance write-off), whether the odometer has been wound back and whether it’s a stolen vehicle. All these checks can save a lot of heartache further down the line.

Car Insurance
Believe or not, it’s not compulsory to have car insurance in New Zealand. However, you should at least take out third party insurance so that should you damage another vehicle, that vehicle will be covered. Third party, fire and theft and fully comprehensive insurance are obviously available.

Documents Needed for Purchase

  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of address
  • Driving licence
  • Funds or pre-approved loan

Ensure you have the Following Paperwork

  • Warrant of Fitness – should be displayed on the windscreen
  • Registration – road tax which should be displayed on the windscreen
  • Notify the New Zealand Transport Agency of your purchase – easy online process
  • Consumer Information Notice (CIN) will be issued if you are buying through a dealer. This gives you all the information you need regarding the vehicle.
  • Sales Agreement will be issued by a professional dealer, which may include a ‘documentation fee’ – try and get this waived.
  • Certificate of Registration – lists all previous owners. You should receive a new Certificate of Registration within 10 days of purchase.
  • Loan agreement (if you are taking out a loan)
  • Insurance policy (if you are taking out insurance)

Petrol or Diesel
Diesel is much cheaper than petrol in New Zealand, because there’s excise tax on petrol and none on diesel. Diesel vehicles have to pay RUC (Road User Charges) which is calculated on the type and weight of vehicles and the kilometres driven. Diesel driven cars pay per 1,000 kms.

The RUC can be paid at various outlets including Postshops and the AA. An example of the cost for a motorist travelling 12,000 kms per annum would be $576 annually. This is marginally cheaper than a petrol vehicle, which would pay $606 in tax for the same distance.