cars, utes

Hansy Mannil Jul 10, 2023

Buying a new car is a fun experience and it’s important to understand all the sales jargon, optional coverage and additional features you actually need to help make the best decision. So, if you feel like whipping out a dictionary every time the dealer opens their mouth, then take a look at our quick guide to car sales speak.

Car jargon

Manufacturer’s List Price (MLP)

The basic price of the car. This is often the price that you see on adverts or in showroom windows. Bear in mind this is NOT the price you will pay.

On-road costs

The costs of getting the car legally on the road and ready to drive. These include registration, stamp duty, compulsory third-party insurance, and vehicle preparation.

Drive-away price

This is the MLP plus on-road costs, and it’s the only price you should pay any attention to as it is the total amount that you must pay before you can drive it on the road.

Changeover price

If you want to trade in your old car, this is the additional amount that you must pay to make up the drive-away price of your new car.

Build date

This is an extremely important piece of information and should not be confused with the car’s compliance date (more on that later). The build date tells you in which month and year the car was built and you’ll usually find this on a plate at the rear of the engine compartment in one of the corners.

It is this date that will determine the value of the car in later years, so if you are buying new, make sure that it matches with the current year. If not, you may be able to negotiate a lower price.

Compliance date

The compliance date tells us when the manufacturer had the car certified as complying with Australian Design Rules. A car built in late 2016 might not get its compliance stamp until early 2017, but this does not mean it’s a 2017 car.

Model year

So you bought a 2019 model, and it’s only 2018! That’s great, but even though the manufacturer may have labeled your car as a 2019 model, it’s that all-important build date that determines the year of the car which of course affects its resale value and how long your warranty coverage lasts.

Manufacturer’s warranty

The vast majority of warranties these days are from three to seven years and a certain number of kilometres driven. This covers you for anything that goes wrong with the car due to a manufacturer’s fault. It doesn’t cover general wear and tear, tyres, wipers, brakes, or certain hoses and belts in the engine. However, you’re not obliged to take your car to an official dealership for servicing or repairs. Just bear in mind though that the use of some non-genuine parts may void the warranty.

Dealer warranty

The dealer warranty is usually an additional option and to be honest; you don’t need it. All this warranty does is tie you down to servicing at that dealership. This means that you can’t shop around for cheaper alternatives without voiding the dealer warranty.

Extended warranty

Every car comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, and an extended warranty provides an extra three years of cover on top of this. It covers you for unexpected and potentially expensive mechanical repairs.

Optional coverage

So now that you have a basic understanding of all that sales jargon let’s take a closer look at optional coverage.


These days, cars are rustproofed by the manufacturer before they paint it, so unless you park yours on the beach every night, it probably won’t rust and this coverage is not necessary.

Fabric protection

If you have kids or pets, then you might appreciate a bit of fabric protection. Other options you could consider instead include buying a set of seat covers that you can take off and wash. Or if the fabric is stained, you could buy a can of fabric cleaner and clean the seats yourself. If these options sound more appealing, then fabric protection cover is not for you.

Extended warranty

There are a range of extended warranty products available at different prices, and they each come with different inclusions, however all should cover a wide range of mechanical and electrical failure. Some also include optional benefits of emergency accommodation, towing and hire cars when you’re more than 150km away from home. The extended warranty starts as soon as your manufacturer’s warranty finishes so there is no overlap. 

Extra features

Some extra features are necessary depending on how you’re using your car, for example, if you’re a tradie you might need work-related upgrades, or if you’re a farmer you could get bullbars and additional lighting. With so many features to choose from, it’s good to know what all the options are and which ones you may need or want.

Backseat entertainment

If you have kids, then DVD screens in the back of the car can be a great investment.

Infotainment upgrades

Most cars these days have a decent infotainment system, but if there’s an option to upgrade your system to include satellite navigation or rear-view camera functionality, then we’d suggest that you go for it. These are features that will make driving more convenient and comfortable and will certainly add to the car’s resale value in later years.

Safety packages

Most manufacturers offer various optional safety packages that you can add for an additional cost. From collision avoidance systems to lane-keeping assist technology, the features on the market are incredible and if you can afford it then go right ahead and add as many as you like. After all, you can never be too careful.

Sports packages

Sports packages that include suspension upgrades, larger rims, are mostly cosmetic choices and they do look good!  If you’re thinking about improving the handling of your car, then a sports package will make no real difference to the average driver. In fact, sports suspension along with low profile tyres can actually make for a bumpier ride.

Now that you are fully equipped with information on all of these features and options, remember to do your own research before making that final decision. And to help you negotiate the buying process like a pro; get your finance sorted before you go car shopping. You can apply online for approval with Stratton and walk into the showroom with the confidence of a cash buyer. You wouldn’t believe what a huge difference that makes.

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