In this episode of Aussie English I teach you how to use the expression “In a nutshell”.
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Expression: In A Nutshell
G’day guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today is another expression an episode, and the expression of today is going to be “In a nutshell”, “In a nutshell”.
The definition of “In a nutshell” is in the fewest possible words. So, a very brief explanation or description, to describe something concisely, or to sum something up briefly. So, that’s pretty much all the same way of saying just to give me a short explanation. Give me the details in a nutshell. Tell me in a nutshell.
Um… So, I’ll give you some examples as I always do in these episodes to give you practice listening to me speaking English as well as just context about how and when you would use these kinds of expressions. And “In a nutshell” is one I use all the time, and that I hear all the time when people are asking me or anyone else to describe something briefly or concisely. So, let’s get into it.
So, the first example could be that some kind of big investigation is taking place into a robbery of a bank. So, say a group of men with masks on and with guns, they were armed obviously, they robbed a bank, and the detectives who are following up the investigation with the police are trying to track down the robbers, but they haven’t been able to catch them yet. They’re still trying to find them. They get interviewed by reporters and by journalists on live TV, and they get asked, “Can you give us the facts? Can you tell us what’s happened in a nutshell?” So, can you tell us what’s happened exactly but make it concise, make it brief? Just give us a brief summary.
Another example could be that a couple, so a boyfriend and his girlfriend, or two girlfriends or two boyfriends if you want to be politically correct, they’ve had a huge fight over a lot of different things that have been happening over the last few months. So, it’s been building up over a long period of time, and it’s a complicated situation that’s happened, and it’s finally come to a boiling point where they’ve had a really really big fight. And say, that, you know, if it was a boyfriend and a girlfriend, the girlfriend is going away to chat with her friends about what’s happened. Her friends could say to her, “Look, can you tell us the situation in a nutshell? Could you explain what’s happened in a nutshell? Give us the details of the fight that’s happened with you and your boyfriend, and what’s lead to that fight in a nutshell.” So, it means, can you tell us the main issues, the basic facts, in a brief sort of description about, you know, the fight that’s lead to you guys potentially breaking up. Who knows? So, that’s the second example.
The third one could be that someone went on a holiday to a very far away location. Say somewhere pretty unique, not just, you know, Thailand or something if you’re from America already. Somewhere like Antarctica or Greenland where the majority of people that you will ever meet have never been there and have never been to a place like that. So, that when the person gets back from their trip, and they meet their friends, the first thing their friends are going to say is, you know, “Can you tell me all about what happened on the trip? Give us the details in a nutshell. Tell us about the trip in a nutshell. What was the best part? What was the worst part? What was the climate like? Did you like it? Did you hate it? Tell us about it in a nutshell.” So, that’s the third example.
And the very last example could be that you read and absolutely amazing book that you absolutely love and you’re telling your friends they have to go out and buy this book. They definitely have to read it. It’s going to change their lives. They might ask you, “Well, before we do that can you tell us about the story in a nutshell? Give us a nutshell review of the book. What exactly makes it so good? What’s it about? Why do we need to go and buy it? Tell us about the book in a nutshell.”
So, I’m sure by now you guys get the idea about what the expression “In a nutshell” means. And I guess I should also explain that if you had a picture in your head over a nutshell, literally the shell of a nut, like a macadamia or even a peanut. If you could literally write a review on a piece of paper and then fold that piece of paper up and fit it inside of that nutshell that is the sort of basic idea of it having to be brief, having to be concise, having to be short. It has to be small enough that you could write it down and put it inside of a nutshell, inside of the shell of a nut. So, that’s the basic idea behind the expression at least.
So, we’ll do a little listen and repeat exercise, guys, just so that you can work on your pronunciation. So, just listen and repeat after me.
I told him the story in a nutshell.
You told him the story in a nutshell.
She told him the story in a nutshell.
He told him the story in a nutshell.
We told him the story in a nutshell.
They told him the story in a nutshell.
And I might just give you a little bit of advice here if you’re wanting to practice the pronunciation of this sentence as a native and sound like me. When I say the word “Him” in this example that “H” on the front of “Him” kind of disappears and it becomes”-im”, “-im”. And it kind of bounces off the “D” on the end of the word “Told”. So, “I told’im”, “you told’im”, “She told’im”, “He told’im”. So, if I was to say a sentence really quickly, “They told’im”, “They told’im the story in a nutshell”, “They told’im the story in a nutshell”. So, that’s just another one of those sort of minute changes in pronunciation that natives will use when they speak rapidly. Anyway, all the best guys and chat to you soon!
Note: “Him” is always written as “Him” and never contracted onto words. I’ve done it above in order to show you how it sounds when I say it.
Check out all the other recent Expression episodes below.
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About the AuthorI learn languages, teach Australian English, and love all things science and nature!
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By pete — 3 years ago
This is the first of hopefully many “Walking with Pete” episodes where instead of teaching you the usual Aussie expressions or terms like usual I hope to have more of a conversation to discuss whatever is on my mind at the time. This should give you exposure to more advanced vocabulary as well as listening to a native Aussie speaking naturally as he would with a friend who was there with him.
Come over to the Aussie English Facebook page and chat to the many other Aussie English learners. Practice a few of these words or phrases, ask any questions you may have, and be a part of the conversation! All the best guys!
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.Post Views: 725
By pete — 12 months ago
AE 393 – Interview: Rev Heads, Car Accidents, & Car Culture in Australia with James Buchan
G’day guys. Welcome to the Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English.
So, today’s episode is obviously an interview episode. I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my childhood friends from high school James Buchen. He has been a dear friend for probably the better part of 18 years, and we… he’s a bit of a rev head. So, we’ve talked about cars. We’ve talked about Japanese cars, Australian cars, and how he got into cars as a kid, how he started to appreciate them and develop a passion for cars. We also talked about when he was in a car accident, which was an interesting story that we’ll get into here. And then, we go on to discuss what car culture is like in Australia.
So, today’s episode is a good one. It’s just the first half of the total interview. So, this interview was about 40-50 minutes long. The second half we talk about what you need to do to buy a car in Australia, and that will come up in the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out for that.
Just a few housekeeping messages before we get started, guys. Remember, if you’re enjoying these episodes whether they’re the interview episodes or the other ones and you would like to support the podcast, you can do so via my Patreon page. This is where you guys can get behind me and the Aussie English podcast and donate a small amount of money on a monthly basis in order to keep me doing what I’m doing. So, you can donate anything from one dollar a month upwards, and it’s a way of giving back to a resource that I hope is helping you learn Australian English.
Apart from that guys, if you’re a bit of a nerd and you enjoy studying Australian English in more depth, and you would like to get more out of this interview episode, make sure you sign up to be a student in the Aussie English Classroom where you will get a 5-10 minute break down of this interview where we talk more in-depth about the vocab, the kind of language he uses, as well as the slang terms and expressions. Okay guys, and you’ll get a quiz at the end of that as well.
Anyway, let’s dive into the interview, guys, and I’ll play you the call of a yellow-tailed black cockatoo to take us in. Listen to this.
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today, I have a special guest with me, one of my best friends from high school, who I’ve probably known now longer than half my entire life.
It’s pretty crazy, isn’t it, when you think about it like that.
Yeah, so James and I went to high school, all through high school together, and we’ve been friends since, after high school, we’ve hung out. It’s been like 10 or 11 years now since high school.
It has been.
And I thought I would get James on because…I guess, you would explain yourself as being a bit of a rev head, James, just to say the least, into cars, just slightly.
Yeah, that’s probably the best way of putting it. I am a bit of a petrol head, although, perhaps I was a little bit more active in, I guess, like a motoring enthusiast or petrol head scene when I was younger. These days… I appreciate a fine motor vehicle, but I don’t really get involved with many groups or go to meets any of that kind of stuff. The certain aspects of certain… of car culture especially in Australia, I’m not a huge fan of. So, I appreciate a nice car, I can understand the engineering behind it, but I’m not what you would call one of these people that goes out.
…And is really full on.
Just partially full on.
Just a bit of a hobby more than an obsession right.
That’s right, yeah.
Yeah, so I thought it’d be good to have James on, because you can talk about, I guess, we can go through buying and selling a car in Australia, the different kind of cars that you’ll find here, maybe what a ute is, the Holden and Ford conflict…
…and then I guess, we can just start with your story. How did you get into cars and from what age?
I guess, ever since I was born, I’ve always sort of had an obsession with cars, at least so my parents tell me. They had an old Mitsubishi Sigma wagon. So, they were… I think they called it a Chrysler Sigma originally before Mitsubishi bought the rights to it. Anyway, my parents had this blue Sigma wagon, and apparently when I was a little baby I was fascinated by the wheels and everything about it, and I guess from there, I sort of got into, I guess, anything that was sort of mechanical, so like earth moving equipment and stuff, and then ever since I guess I was sort of like a teenager, from then on it was just cars, mainly European exotics, but then I guess, my world was sort of opened up to Japanese cars and, you know, to a lesser extent, I guess, Australian cars and all of the other different, you know, nationalities of vehicles, and, you know, they’re all got interesting. There’s always something interesting behind them. So…
And is it a family thing too? Was it the family were interested in motors and vehicles, or was it just you that go into it?
So, maybe it was genetic you might say. So, on my father’s side, my dad was interested in cars. His father was a mechanic. And on my mother’s side, my grandfather, he had 39 cars throughout his lifetime.
39. So, every year, just about, he would go buy another car, and every car was the best car he’d ever owned even if it was a complete junk box.
So, it only got better and better then, obviously?
It only got better and better, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure he took a backward step several times. But he did have a really nice Nissan Skyline at one point. So, that was a pretty cool car.
But then your father as well’s into motors into cars?
And your brother too.
That’s right, yes. So, my brother knows about them as well, and he would sometimes educate me or vice versa. So, if there were something interesting out there, he’d, you know, point me in that direction and say take a look at this, and yeah. I remember his first… his first car, because, throughout high school I didn’t really have a job. And then, when I was old enough to drive I had to borrow mum and dad’s car, and I said to my brother, one of my biggest regrets was not getting a job sooner so that when I was able to drive I could get a car. So, I guess he took those lessons on board and his first car was a Toyota Supra. So, he paid 17 grand for this car. This was… I don’t know, like 2007.
And to put that in context, he’d saved all this money during year 11 and year 12 at high school. So, not only was he doing high school full time, right, but he was working after school, weekends and somehow managed to save $17,000 for this Toyota Supra. And I guess, my first drive of that thing, coming from Camries or Commodores, V6 Commodores, and so on. I remember I had my first drive of this thing and just the power was unbelievable. From that point, I guess, I was hooked. I was on the fence as to what I thought about Japanese cars before then, but I was on… you know, after that drive I was hooked.
So, what is it like for you, when you get into there, and you say you get into that car and you drive it for the first time and it’s incredibly fast, what are the emotions you’re feeling and, you know, is it for you is it the speed, or is it the sound, or is it a combination of all of it? It’s an experience.
It’s all of that thing. It’s a sensory kind of overload, ’cause you get, you know, you get the smell of the interior, it’s a Japanese car made in the mid 90s, so you’ve got this weird smell of perhaps with some of them, you know, soy sauce, Japanese cigarettes, the smell of the interior, you get in there, and then you get the sound of the engine, and then I guess the speed and the way it feels.
And I guess, to put that in context, the reason you get those smells with these cars is because they’ve been imported from Japan…
These specific cars.
Yeah. So, yeah, I had my first drive and I guess I was hooked after that.
What was it like? Can you run me through, like, when you first stepped in the car and you put your foot down, what was the feeling like?
Coming from little four banger Camries or 4-cylinder Camries, and you know, V6 Commodores, this, you know, it was a nice big straight six, so it had…it had a lot of talk. It just felt like it was ready to go in every gear. There was… and it didn’t weigh a huge amount really. So, it felt good.
Was it frightening at all?
It probably would have been stupid if I had had that car from a young age, yeah, ’cause I would have got myself into a lot of trouble with it.
And why do you think that is? With younger kids too, buying these sorts of cars and then ending up in accidents, is just a common occurrence, and is it obviously just males mostly?
For the most part, I’d say it’s just males, but again, I guess it’s like anything, you know, you’ve got some females that get into cars and like any, any young person I guess, the brain’s not fully developed, and, you know, when you’ve got a lot of power and you’ve got irresponsibility, I guess, or that feeling of showing off, it’s… yeah, it can be a recipe for disaster. So, I can understand why the government has imposed legislation banning turbo and V8 cars for P-platers, or previously, when I was a P-plater, they had power to weight ratio.
So, what would you say to yourself if you could speak to yourself when you were 17 or 18 and give yourself advice on the first car that you would own? Would you would you say, go for the most powerful, or now with all the wisdom that you have, would you say, just take it easy?
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Absolutely, take it easy. You know what? I had a Camry and thinking about it now, like, that’s still a good car now. It was manual, so enough to have a little bit of fun with, but it was practical at the same time. It was good on fuel. You couldn’t get yourself into too much trouble in it. So, if you’re just looking for a car to get from A to B, that’s still sort of alright, that was a good car. And if you really want to go crazy later on, just wait until you’re a little bit older. You know, you’ve got all the time in the world you don’t need to… And also the other thing is, as a P-plater you’re restricted from getting… as a young person, you’re restricted from getting something insanely powerful anyway. So, what’s the point? Just wait, and then really see, I guess, see if it’s for you. Because it’s a slippery slope. You can spend a lot of money on cars modifying them.
And so, what happens when you do? Have you been in anything that was frighteningly quick and had any interesting experiences with that, James?
I have indeed. So, I had a friend with a Mazda RX7, that was… yeah, he’d spent a considerable amount of money on this engine, a stand alone engine management system, the entire engine was completely built, had a pretty big single turbo on it. And yeah, that thing just lit the tyres up at any speed. I can recall the speedo being, you know, saying something like 200 something, and it felt like the wheels were spinning. Yeah, it was… that was actually… and I guess, when I was younger I didn’t… I sort of felt like indestructible. So, that, you know, you do those kind of speeds, and that was okay. But I guess, now that I have been… you know, I’ve had a couple of accidents, nowadays, I very much feel nervous getting into anything that’s even driven slightly quickly or irresponsibly. Some of my friends up in Melbourne, they, you know, from… they give me an old Top Gear reference called ‘Captain Slow’, James May in Top Gear he gets called ‘Captain Slow’, and that’s sort of my nickname as well now. I don’t…
Yeah, it’s a derogatory term, but at the same time, it’s sort of a badge of honour of being the most responsible.
Yeah. That’s… You know, it’s genuinely scary. After the… after the RX7, I went in a big single turbo Supra up in Melbourne. That thing had engine management system and other TO4Z big single turbocharger, and it just spun the wheels for first, second, third, fourth. And I remember being… I didn’t like the feeling of not being in control.
As a passenger.
As a passenger. And then, I had a turn in a Nissan GDR, an R35, and again, it was the same feeling, except, I guess, slightly lesser extent, this R35 had a lot of security and safety features. So, it… not that going really, really fast you’re ever going to be indestructible, but it was slightly safer, because you had airbags and ABS brakes, and so.
So, taking us back to the RX7, can you talk us through that experience and what it was like?
Sure. So, I got in it, and it was loud it was noisy, and rotary engines, they have like a certain unique sound so… kind of sound. And, I guess, to people who don’t know what a rotary sort of looks like, imagine a circle and imagine a corn chip or a Dorito, and basically the corn chip moves around inside this… inside this circle and it sort of produces this unique noise that only really, I guess, Mazda has used. The engine had been fully built. I think there was something to the tune of almost twenty thousand dollars spent on this engine and turbo. And, rotaries famously, they’re known for not having any torque, because they’re not a big engine. They’re only about one point three litres. So, you have to rev them. And this thing was revved really properly hard, and the big turbo came on, the wheels would light up, it would struggle for traction. Anyway, I had some time off one day. I was between jobs. This is when I was studying at uni, and I thought I’d go and see a friend who had this RX7. He’d been building it and he wanted to show it off to me. So, we went for a drive and… perhaps slightly… you know, an ominous sign, it didn’t really start very well. There were a couple of problems with it stalling. So, maybe that was a sign that the day was not exactly off to a great start.
And yeah, so we went for a drive, and it was as you would expect it was frightening, the wheels were spinning, it was going really really fast. And anyway, we went down to the Point Lonsdale. We werejust coming down from Ocean Grove. And we went around a corner. I wouldn’t say hey this corner is particularly fast. We just went round at 60, but this RX7 was old. The tyres weren’t a staggered set up. So, they were the same size tyres front and back. And perhaps the owner had spent a considerable amount of money on the engine, but I don’t know what kind of tyres he’d fitted to this car. And maybe it was slightly twitchy in the power delivery, but we came around this corner, we weren’t going particularly fast at this point, but I think the turbo was kind of old school as well, it wasn’t a modern responsive ball bearing turbo. It was an old school 267, sort of journal bearing, kind of laggy, but gives a really big kick when it comes on. So, it goes this big kick, I guess, as it came on, and the car just… It just sort of locked up as we were going around this corner. The rear end just sort of stepped out, and by that point, both myself and the driver were just passengers, and I guess, whenever you have sort of a scary experience a lot of people will say that things happen in slow motion, and it was certainly true for this accident that was going to happen. So, I could see the power pole and I could see we were sliding towards it. And we’d… you know, we had I’d say maybe five seconds or so. You saw it and you thought we were going to crash here. So, I sort of moved towards the centre of the car. And it’s an old RX7. It hadn’t… didn’t have a safety cell, didn’t have any ABS brakes, didn’t have any airbags. And so, I tried to move my body towards the centre of the car, knowing that we were going to hit this pole, and we did. We hit the pole. My nose hit the dashboard and instantly it felt pretty sore. And the first thing I think… the engine stopped straight away, it just cut out. And the first thing I said was, we’ve got to get out of here. Maybe that’s being a young Australian thing, not wanting to get into any trouble because we’ve just knocked down a power pole. So, power lines have come down. And the car wouldn’t restart, and I couldn’t get out, because my door had been… my door had been sort of banged shut, I guess, with the impact of the power pole. My nose was obviously hurting quite considerably. Anyway, I guess, as luck would have it some people came out of the house and saw what had happened, and then some guy that I’d known from Geelong College was driving past in a Toyota Land Cruiser, and vaguely recognised this guy from college. We’d seen each other one once or twice. He vaguely recognised me and could see the predicament we were in and offered us a tow and removed the car from the pole. We pushed the car to the side of the road and we were able to survey the damage. I have some pictures on my computer that I might be able to send to you later on. They’re slightly grainy from one of the first camera phones, but (it) gives an idea of the force involved. I guess, I was pretty lucky, because if that had happened and it had… the pole the slightly further forward, it could’ve been my head that it hit the pole. Whereas, I guess it hit the pillar of the car where was the most strength. You don’t need a big hit to the head to kill you or to cause any damage. We weren’t going particularly fast, but I’d just say the car was twitchy, the power delivery was kind of, you know, spiky, and it all happened so quickly. Yeah, you’ve really got to be very careful.
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My nose, as it turns out, was broken. My mum, I should point out, did not like the guy before he’d been involved in the crash. She wasn’t a huge fan of the owner and owner of this car. Anyway, I came home and I’d sort of mentioned to my dad what had happened and said please don’t tell Mum, and he didn’t, to his credit, but my nose was hurting, and I tried to go through a couple of days, and it was no good. So, I mentioned that my nose was sore, and I eventually fessed up to what had happened, and, you know, you can understand when any parents angry. You’ve all been there. You’ve done something where the parents are not happy. And, I got taken to the doctor. And they did the x-ray scans and so on, and that sort of revealed that my nose had been broken and that it was shattered, but I’d left it… by this point it’d been about two weeks since you get the results from the scans. You know, you’ve followed up with consultations and so on, and they’d said, well look by this point the nose had already started to reheal. If you want to… if you want to fix it up, the nose has to be rebroken.
Well you need a nose job.
And when they looked at it like it’s really not that bad.
You’ve got a better one than me. I’ve been through exactly the same thing, but with jiujitsu and getting a knee to the face.
But, just left it too long as well.
Yep. Yeah, yeah.
So, I just sort of, like, well you know what? It’s not exactly a cool story, but in hindsight, it’s an interesting story, and it certainly taught me a lot of valuable lessons, I guess.
What do you think it taught you, and was it a turning point for your life, especially being behind the wheel of a powerful car or a passenger in a powerful car?
Yeah, yep. You know, if you want to go and behave like that, there’s a track. Go and be involved in like a motor sports club. If you want to go and drift, there’s skid pan days. I’ve done one of those before. They’re fun. They’re in a perfectly safe controlled environment. If you’re in a powerful car, there’s just… if you’ve got friends, that’s okay, but just take it easy and relax, you know, you’re going to get there in the end. And yeah, maybe spend a little bit more on a nice wide set of sticky rubber that, you know, doesn’t… that’s not going to let go. You know, I guess these days, we’re lucky as well. We’ve got modern engine management systems and turbochargers. So, these days, we could have a nice responsive car. So, you’re not going to have that kind of like lightning… that really sudden power band, where it just sort of kicks in all of a sudden. So, that can be somewhat eliminated with cars these days. So, I’d like to think that an accident like that, it is preventable.
So, are you glad you went through that experience or if you could go back would you say, James don’t get in the car?
To an extent, yeah, I am glad that I went through that experience, because I’ve learnt a valuable lesson from that, and I would certainly recommend to younger people, you know, perhaps don’t get in that car. If it’s a really, really, really, really fast one or if you’re getting into a car with someone who is perhaps not the most responsible behind the wheel, but I’d say it was a good experience for me. I think I learnt a lot. And yeah, I don’t mind being called ‘Captain Slow’. That’s quite alright. You’ll get there in the.
Slow and steady wins the race, James.
Yeah, sometimes it’s just nice to cruise and relax, put on some music or something.
So, I guess, changing gears a little bit, pun intended. What’s the difference between car culture in Australia and car culture elsewhere? Whether it’s America, Britain or Japan or Europe or whatever it is. Do we have a unique car culture here in Australia?
I’d certainly say we do. We, perhaps, had a stronger car culture when Holden and Ford were producing, you know, locally delivered and built cars, but since those two factories have closed down, perhaps the car culture… it will still exist, but it’s just going through a transitional phase. I don’t think it will be as strong anymore, because Holden and Ford, there was that rivalry.
I was going to get to that. I wanted to ask you where does that come from? I don’t know that much about it, but I would love to know how it evolved if you know much about it, you can shed light on that.
I know a little bit. Perhaps, I’m not as ingrained into that kind of culture as some people, because I’m… primarily, I prefer my Japanese cars, but your parents, when they were growing up, they generally had the choice of…they had the choice of either a Holden or a Ford. You know, fleet cars, that kind of thing. And I guess, you were born and you grew up with, you know, loyalty or allegiance to one brand or the other. I’m sure people can relate to that.
Almost like football teams or soccer teams.
Exactly, yeah. People know what allegiances are like, and that’s what Holden and Ford were like. You had an allegiance to that and that was…
That was weird, ’cause that happened to me, but it wasn’t sort of by choice. So, I started working at a pizza shop, and, as luck had it, the… I think one of the guys there had a Holden, and the rest of the guys then decided to get Holdens, and therefore, I felt this kind of pressure to fit in/want to impress/…, you know, I guess, yeah, mainly just fit in and impress. And so, I ended up getting a Holden, and that’s how it sort of manifested.
Yeah, and I can totally relate to that. I was also a Holden. My parents had several. They had a VL Commodore. They had the VT. And that was just… that was what you did. That was your allegiance. But some people it was for Fords.
And I remember when my parents were looking at getting another car, they had the VT Commodore and they ended up getting this Camry, and.
…I wanted to… I wanted to keep the Commodore for myself and they could roll around in the Camry. But I guess, they had other ideas and they gave me the Camry.
Just to tease you.
And look, you know, in hindsight it’s probably a smart thing, ’cause, you know, I got to experience the Japanese car, and a car with a little less power, and that’s, I guess, what sort of turned me away or turned my interest away from Holdens to more the Japanese kind of cars.
So, where do you think that comes from, because there is a massive following of just Japanese kind of style cars? I mean, you would have your followings of European cars, maybe American cars, but there seems to be, especially with younger people, an obsession with Japanese cars.
Why is that?
They’re well built. They’re much more, I guess, say, technologically advanced than say some of the Australian offerings, and they’re just… they were different. The imported cars, they were just sort of seen as somewhat rarer. And a lot of them as well were turbocharged. So, I guess with the Australian cars, unless you had like a big… really big V8, you didn’t have a huge amount of options for getting more power out of them. Whereas with these little Japanese cars, I call them ‘little’, you could whack a bleed valve on the turbocharger or an electronic boost controller, an exhaust, and maybe a bigger intercooler. You can increase the power heaps, and it’s just… it’s just so easy with any turbo car, you know? You just bleed off some of the air from that turbocharger and run more boost, and it just… they love it. And that’s why, I think, like, that’s why I… my perception as to why the Japanese car culture has just really sort of taken off in Australia, because if you can run more boost, make a lot more power cheaply and easily… I guess, the only good thing about turbo cars is that… when you’re on the on the throttle use a lot of fuel, but when you’re not they’re not so bad. That is if you haven’t fitted massive fuel injectors and aftermarket management systems, but for the most part, when you’re not on the boost, they’re pretty… they’re pretty good on the fuel. So, well, they’re better on the fuel, if they’re in good condition.
As in more efficient, fuel efficient?
More efficient. Although, say, my brother’s R33 Skyline that he had was an exception to that. That car would only get 250 kilometres to a tank.
Perhaps there was something wrong with the oxygen sensor, but it drank the fuel that car.
(It was) good fun to drive, though.
Alright guys, so that was the first part of a two-part series for this interview. The next part will come out in the next couple of weeks, and it’ll be covering how to go about purchasing a car in Australia. So, we’ll give you tips about what to look for under the bonnet, the kinds of forms that you’ll need, how much you’re probably going to have to pay, what kinds of cars to go after, all that good stuff. So, keep an eye out for that, if you’re in Australia or thinking of coming to Australia and purchasing a car.
Remember guys, if you want to support the podcast you can do so via my Patreon page. It helps me do what I do and continue to teach you Australian English. So, I really appreciate everyone who has signed up to be a patron so far.
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By pete — 12 months ago
AE 401 – Interview: How to Buy a Car in Australia with James Buchan
G’day, guys. Welcome to The Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English. As a reminder, the podcast, The Aussie English Podcast is brought to you by The Aussie English Classroom, an online learning environment designed to teach you Australian English, or just English more generally, whichever you prefer.
Today’s episode is the second half of the interview with James, my mate James, who was talking about cars in episode AE 393 – Interview: Rev-heads, Car Accidents, & Car Culture in Australia. So, James is back today, and he’ll be giving you guys tips and tricks for buying a car in Australia, what you need to know about searching for cars online, when you go and see the car what you should do, what you should look for under the bonnet, and then the process of getting that car bought and putting it into your name.
So, remember there will be a 5-10 minute lesson in The Aussie English Classroom that focuses on this episode. You will get a listening comprehension quiz asking you questions about what you hear as you listen to that excerpt, and you will also have an in-depth vocab list about all the more complicated vocab used in there. So, if you want to upgrade your English, if you want to learn more about Aussie English, then definitely sign up to The Aussie English Classroom.
Anyway, guys, without any further ado let’s get into today’s interview episode on buying a car in Australia with James. And to take us in, I thought it would be appropriate to play the sound of some V8 Supercar Ford and Holdens from Bathurst. Check it out.
I guess switching gears again.
If we now talk about purchasing cars and selling cars, do you remember the first car that you went and bought, and what it felt like to be, you know, a young Australian kid getting your first car? What was the process like to?
So, the first car I think I actually bought with my own money was a Toyota Soarer. It was a one of the V8 ones, so, they called that a UZZ31. This is an interesting one and I think this will be good for the podcast, because I made some mistakes buying this car, and hindsight and wisdom I would be able to inform a purchaser now a lot better, but I guess, you’ve got to go out there, you’ve got to make mistakes. Much the same as anything in life, you’ve got to learn. That crash, for instance, that we talked about earlier. Sometimes you need to make a mistake.
So, I went and saw the car, and everything looked alright, I guess, when you’re young and you’ve got a pocket full of cash and you see an object, you think well, yeah, you know, it’s it looks good, and I guess, you get carried away with the emotions in purchasing it. You know, I’m going to buy this. This is going to be me. I get to roll around in this. This is really cool. In my case, it was this V8 Soarer. It was packed full of leather and technology. It had like the TV screen, the touch screen. It had a really good stereo in it. (It) had a set of wheels on it. They were really heavy and they weren’t staggered, but they were a set of wheels, and to a young person that was pretty cool.
So, we went up and we just sussed it out, and it was a really warm sunny day, and everything was working. The air conditioning was working. The car was driving nicely. The owner had informed me that he just put a new battery in it, and I didn’t really think of… I just thought, well, you know, that’s a good thing, you know, a new battery. And I said, yeah, no, I’ll buy this car. And I think I paid $7,300 for it. And we had the paperwork. So, we got that from Vic Roads. So, you sign the paperwork, and then… so the owner of the car will put his initials on it, you put yours on it, and that basically transfers the ownership from their name to yours, which you would then take to VicRoads.
So, I purchased this car, and I remember, it took maybe about a week. So, I had a test drive first, came home, decided that I liked it. And then, (I) came up to Melbourne about a week or two later to pick up the car, and that was fine, and I drove it back out of Melbourne, and on the way down to Geelong I got a little message on the TV screen in the centre of the car, and it said an alternator… battery not charging alternator, alternator not charging battery. Like, okay, what’s that? Anyway, the closer I got to Geelong, the more systems started to shut down in the car. I’m thinking, well, this is not great.
Anyway, as it turns out, the design of that particular engine the 1UZ had the alternator above… had the power steering pump just above the alternator. So, what would happen is the power steering pump would leak and drop all its fluid onto the alternator, which would kill it. And so, when the alternator wouldn’t charge then it would just drain the battery. So, when the owner said I’ve just put in a new battery of course the car is going to drive fine with a new battery. You’re not going to know. So, perhaps I should have checked under the car for any, I guess, like puddles or any drips, look at the engine bay perhaps with a torch to see if there’s any moist damp wet spots. I didn’t do any of that. I just got carried away, because I thought that everything was working and playing with the buttons and the technology, didn’t really… didn’t really check to see what else might be broken with it. So, that was… so, on the second day that I had the car in my ownership. I then had to take it down to an auto electrician and get the power steering pump replaced, and get the alternator replaced. And that was a really expensive exercise. That was at least $600-700. And I haven’t budgeted for that. So, I regret that.
There’s a few things in that I unpack, I guess. So, for the listeners who are moving to Australia or currently living in Australia what kind of advice would you have for them from start to finish for purchasing a car? So, I guess starting with: where do you look and what do you look for?
So, there’s perhaps two main websites you could look for cars in Australia. Carsales.com.au, which is generally pretty good. Look, if you want to go to a dealer, you can, but you have to be prepared to pay their markups. They’ll be making a profit on it. Although, if you buy from a dealer, you’ll get some kind of warranty or recourse if something is to go wrong. So, buying a car secondhand inherently carries a little bit more risk if you do it through a private sale.
So, carsales.com.au, though.
That’s right. Yeah. So, that’s where generally that I would look. You’ll see if a car has… you can check out its specifications, its photos, there’s the owner’s contact information. And that’s one way of buying a car. It’s slightly perhaps a little bit more above board. And then, if you wanted to buy like a slightly cheaper car or you’re willing to sift a little bit… sift a little further through the website, you could use gumtree.com.au. I don’t think they’re searching or the way that the website is built is perhaps as good as Carsales, but you can find a car through there, and they can be another option.
And what would you recommend the car come with, or the kind of specifications, I mean, any other bonus sort of tips there for the kinds of cars you want and what you want to come with when you purchase one?
So, the first and foremost, really, you need a registration and roadworthy certificate. Roadworthy certificates, they’ve become a lot harder to find.
And harder to get.
And harder to get. A car these days, generally, if it comes with a roadworthy certificate, it generally means that it’s an alright car. You know, you’d need to get it checked out, obviously, and perform your own checks, but you can be assured at least that it’s been to a workshop and that they can guarantee that the tyres are good, the brakes are good, the steering is good, that you’ve got good wiper blades, there’s no oil leaks, just that basic kind of stuff. In the past, they were a lot easier to forge, but the Victorian Government has since been clamping down pretty hard on workshops that are hand handing out dodgy roadworthiness. So, they are a lot harder to find and get. And as a result, you’ll see a lot of cars for sale second hand without a roadworthy certificate.
And look, some of these cars can be an absolute bargain. If you’re willing to do the work, and let’s say, it might only need a set of tyres or set of brake pads. I guess, if you’ve got A. the time, or you’re B. mechanically competent, go ahead do that, but you really have to suss the car out and to know that it’s going to be okay, and then you’ve got to have the time as well to run around getting these things or to get them fitted, and how much is your time worth? Are you working? Are you studying? If you are, then you might not have the time to be able to go ahead and do these things, in which case you could pay a place to do this, but again, that’s going to cost a little bit of extra, and for all of the extra that it may cost you or for how much your time is worth, it just makes sense to get a car with a roadworthy certificate.
And you can kind of get caught and a bit of a trap, right? If you get on without a roadworthy, you’ve got about 30 days with the changeover in your name to get a roadworthy on it before it can be changed into your name. And so, however much money it’s going to cost to change the car, to fix the car, to repair the car, to get it into your name, you’re going to have to fork out…
…and pay for before you can legally drive it around or get insured and all of that, right?
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That’s right. So, a couple of years ago now my brother and I bought a Ford Falcon it wasn’t AU, and it was ex-taxi, the benefit of an ex-taxi is that you know that it’s been maintained. This thing had 700,000 kilometers on it.
To the moon and back.
My brother and I, we were looking for a car. We needed one kind of quickly. We sussed out one car and the owner said to us, “oh, look, it’s good, it’s got an exhaust on it”. We liked the look of it, but he said the gearbox is broken, one of the gears is broken in it. The car can’t do above 80 kilometers an hour. And I guess, when you’re travelling to the outback and you’re travelling large distances, Australia’s a big country, you kind of want to be able to go a little bit more than 80km/hr. So, for us, that was a no go.
So, we went and sussed out this AU Falcon in Templestowe. It was an ex-taxi, it was owned… it had been owned by this Greek guy, and my brother just looks at me and he says, do we go ugly early, James?. And I said yes, David we do, because you know what? We could spend a long time trying to suss out which cars are good, you know, sorting out if one has a roadworthy or a rego or does it… or if it’s maybe one of the later versions. But everything about this, I guess, it ticked most of the boxes for us. So, we decided that that was going to be a good buy.
That car had no roadworthy, but for our purposes we were only using the car for a weekend. We had it sort of like a little cheap car holiday.
So, we went up to the Outback in New South Wales. So, what we did was we purchased this AU. It didn’t need to have a roadworthy, because we were able to… we’re only going to be using it for a weekend. So, we were able to transfer the ownership of the vehicle into our name and we were able to get an insurance cover note that would cover us for those four days. At which point, once we returned, we would cancel the cover note, we’d sell the car.
And that’s exactly what we did. However, if you want to keep a car to use to go on holidays, to go on trips, you have 30 days, at least last time I checked, before you can get that… 30 days in order to get that roadworthy certificate, and get that into your name, and get the car registered and insured, and off you go.
So, I guess, taking it through the steps: get on either a Carsales.com.au, which you recommend first and foremost…
It seems to be a little bit more above board.
…and you can get it from dealers or private sellers…
…or you can go to gumtree.com.au, and also sift through that, but it requires a bit more work.
It requires a little bit more work, and I think the way that Gumtree’s website sort of laid out as well, I was searching for cars there the other day, and I set my range and I set my price, I typed in the model of car I was looking for, and I set it most expensive to least expensive, but I still got ads, because people want to lease their cars through there as well, and you can… you can weed that out in Gumtree, but it’s just a little bit more effort.
I guess, the benefit of gum tree though is that it’s free.
So, when you’re advertising a car there it’s free, whereas Carsales you’ve got to pay.
Hence the ads on Gumtree.
Alright. So, you’ve gone to Carsales or Gumtree, you found a car that you’ve liked, that looks good. Try and find one that does have a roadworthy certificate and rego on it already for as long as possible so you don’t have to renew that rego in the next week and for another year, ’cause the longer the rego the better. Alright, so you got those things down. Then obviously you want to contact the seller through one of these websites and just say, g’day, I’m just interested in purchasing your car. Do you have anything to add with regards to bartering and the price of the cars? Would you just walk up and be like, here, BAM! There’s what you’ve asked for? Or would you suggest aiming a little lower? And if so, how far is okay below the price they’re asking?
So, what I like to do is I like to go and suss the car, look at it. Have… knowing a little bit about cars, if I can see that something’s an absolute bargain already, and that they’ve already reduced the price enough, I’d like to use a little bit of intuition. Sometimes I can see that it’s a bargain, and you can say, alright, I’m not going to… not going to try and get any money chopped off the price here. it’s already a bargain for what they’re selling for so I just turn up with the cash nice and quickly, and get the deal done. Whereas, I guess, sometimes you might like to… the price that the seller has listed you can see as a starting point and try and negotiate them down a little bit. I like to… if it was me and I was selling a car, I would… let’s say, I want $7,500 for it, I might list it for like $8,200 knowing full well that when someone comes in and wants to buy the car and barter it, I’ve got a little bit of room to move. So, I’m happy to let the cargo for say $7,500 whereas I’ve listed it for $8,300. So, that’s the spot where I’ll let it go for.
However, if I’d just left it… advertised it for $7,500 that the buyer would want to come in and they would want to knock some money off it. So, they might be able to go in… they might want to knock it down a little bit more. So, I guess, you’ve sort of got to shift around and do a little bit of a dance in order to agree on a price. That’s always a good idea to try and negotiate if you can.
Another good step is never go and see a car at night.
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I guess that ties in with when you go and see a car what are the kind of things you’re looking for? And obviously, you need light to be able to do that. But what basic things can the listeners to this podcast keep an eye out for if they are just buying this car on their own?
Okay. So, obviously, you want to go and you take a look at the tyres. Make sure that there’s enough tread on them. You can see the wear markers and you can just basically use your fingers and put them through the great grooves in the tire to see that there’s enough tread on them. If they’ve got a roadworthy though, they should have roadworthy tread. So, that’s one thing. If you’re putting it into gear as an automatic, if it clunks into gear, that could be a problem with the transmission. You want to make sure that the brakes aren’t squeaking. You want to make sure that there are no leaks.
So, when you lift up the bonnet and you look at it, you want to also look below the car to see that nothing’s dripping onto the ground.
That’s right. Another sort of sign that something can be potentially dodgy is if you don’t inspect the car and it’s already warm or it’s already been running, because let’s say a car might be difficult to start, or a car starts running a little bit, let’s say, there might be like a metal on metal sound, or some kind of nasty noise that goes away once the car has warmed up, that can also be a tell tale sign that there might be an issue.
I think that’s something my dad had always said too. If you’re going to go buy a car, ask them not to start it and drive it that day so that you’re the first person to turn that car on and use it.
Yeah, that’s right. There are some cars that I’ve looked at and exactly as your dad was saying, you turn it on and you hear the car screeching for a while. It you might be a loose belt or a bearing might be gone. That’s that’s that’s a big no no. Well, proceed with caution, I guess, if the cars’s cheap and you’ve got a little bit of mechanical nouse??? about you, you might be able to factor that into the bargaining price.
Okay, gotcha. I guess, yeah and you could use… if you see any of these things, and you think, oh, I still want to take the risk, you can point them out and use that as a bargaining chip in order to lower the price at least a little bit with the idea or their suggestion that you might have to pay some money to then replace or fix this issue.
\Yeah. Another one is that some cars might have a slight oil leak. It could be coming from the sump. It could be coming from the cam covers. It could be coming from anywhere. In which case, let’s say the car has been sitting overnight, it would be dripping. But if the car… sometimes what some dodgy sellers will do is they’ll start the car up and they’ll move it to a different spot where it’s not leaking, and the car will be warm. So, that’s another thing to check out and just to make sure.
Okay. So, you’ve done all of that and you’ve decided, I’m going to pay this amount of money for it, you’ve bargained them down potentially or you’ve decided it looks like it’s in good nick, I’ll give you the whole price that you’re asking. What is then required? So, the seller’s gonna have some forms and what do you need to do with those forms as the buyer?
You can either pick up… sometimes, the seller should have these forms or this paperwork that they need from Vic Roads, which I guess, for those listeners from interstate or overseas Vic Roads is a road transport authority kind of group that organises car registrations.
In Victoria. It’ll be different for each state.
Yeah. So, there’ll be some paperwork from Vic Roads that, as a seller or buyer, you can go and pick up. The seller really should have it on them, but that said sometimes I like to go to Vic Roads and just pick up this paper work, just in case. And, I have a spare piece of paperwork in the glove box of the car when I go to buy it. You’ll agree. The price will be written down on this piece of paper. The seller’s information will be, there the registration of the car will be there. You will sign it. You will mention the price and there’ll be two copies. There’ll be… I believe there’ll be a carbon copy. So, there’ll be one for the seller of the vehicle, and then there’ll be one for the new owner, and… like a transfer form, and that’s what you’ve got to take into Vic Roads, and they’ll process that. You’ll pay stamp duty on that, which is the percentage of the car.
And you have a trick for saving a few hundred dollars potentially.
So, you could save some of the listeners a few hundred bucks if you guys are buying a car that’s at least relatively cheap.
That’s right. So, if you’re buying a new car, you’re buying a new Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce or a Ferrari, you’re going to be paying a lot of stamp duty on that. You’ll be paying luxury car tax as well. However, if you’re buying a second-hand car, especially, a cheaper one… for instance, there was a Toyota Soarer that I bought once, and I paid $7,500 for it. However, if the sale price had been listed at $7,500 that we had agreed on, on this transfer for, I would have paid 10% of that for stamp duty that the government gets.
So, you, instantly, when you go and change that over in your name at RACV, not RACV, at Vic Roads*, you have to pay 10% more to them, the stamp duty to the government, to get that car in your name.
…into your name. That’s right.
So, what’s the trick in order to avoid paying the full 10% of whatever you just paid for the car, especially, if you did it in cash?
So, if you’ve done it in cash, which I had done, I… the seller and I both agreed that what we would write down was something like $4,200 or thereabouts. So, it still looks… because, let’s face it, some Toyota Soarers are cheap, because they have been neglected. So, I guess, there’s a price band in which a car can be sold for, and that looked to Vic Roads that would look right. And so, we agreed on $4,200 on paper so that when the time came to hand that paperwork to Vic Roads…
You saved yourself $300 bucks or so.
Correct! By not listing the price as $7,500 but $4,200 instead. Made a lot more sense. There was a friend that had bought a new (Subaru) WRX on the same day that I bought my Soarer, and we were both in VicRoads, and he’d paid something like $30,000 for this WRX, and I remember, he was in a considerable amount of pain, financial pain I should add, knowing what he was going to have to pay in terms of stamp duty, and he was only ever so slightly envious of the fact that I had managed to sort of weasel my way out of a little bit of money.
So, I guess, that leads into the last point before we finish up. We might save selling a car for another episode. But, it’s also factor in how much it’s going to cost to pay for stamp duty, to pay for insurance, and to pay for any other potential repairs that might be needed.
So, if you save up say $3,000, probably don’t go out looking for a car that’s $3,000.
What would you suggest? How much reduce sort of leeway either side would you try and save on the side to pay for those things?
So, let’s say if third party fire and theft insurance, which’ll cover the other party, but not you. Let’s say that at most might be about $300 on say, let’s say a $3,000-$4,000 car, you might want to factor in up to about $500 maybe for any mechanical repairs that might be necessary. As much as we try and avoid any of that stuff when you’re going and buying the car, it might be just one of those…
It could break the next day by chance.
Yeah, by chance. I mean, lightning does strike, and accidents do happen. So, it’s always a good idea that as you’ve said that you’ve got a little bit of extra money up your sleeve, because you don’t want to say, have a budget of $3,000, spend the $3,000 on the car, for the next day for the car to break and you’ve got no money left, no money saved. That’s just not a good idea.
So, save a little bit of extra for insurance. Maybe save an extra say, $500 for an impossible mechanical repairs you might need. Let’s (say), using a $3,000 car as an example, like a Falcon, an old Commodore.
Try and save a bit of money with the stamp duty by first paying in cash, and then asking permission with the seller if you guys can just drop the price a little bit on paper. So, you still paid the amount, but on paper he’s written a lower number.
That’s right. I’ve done the same thing buying a few spare parts on eBay as well, from international sellers, and I think if it’s over a thousand dollars you have to pay GST on it. So, I remember, I bought a new turbocharger once. The seller, I didn’t even ask them, I was willing to pay the GST, because I just thought that that was what I had to cop. However, the seller… they had clearly been through this process before, and they wrote that the purchase price of this turbocharger was only $100 dollars. So, I avoided paying any GST.
That’s a nice a nice little tip for you.
Far out! Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast, James.
Not a problem. Thanks for having me, Pete.
No worries! There’s a lot of gems in there, guys. So, go back and listen and hopefully it’s helped if you end up buying a car, and hopefully, it avoids some headaches.
Alright! See you, guys!
Alright guys, I hope you enjoy that episode with James. Thanks again James for coming on the podcast.
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Anyway, guys, I’ve kept you long enough. I hope you have a great day and chat to you again soon.
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