5 Tips for Buying a Used Car

December 9, 2015 - 3 min read

Buying a used car is an ideal way to upgrade what you drive now, and yet save a few dollars. But we all know there are lemons out there on the market. Discover what to look for when buying a used car in our quick tips guide.

As of 2015, there are at least 18 million motor vehicles registered in Australia, with many of us looking to upgrade to a newer model. If your current model is on its way to car heaven or if you are in the market for something to better suit your lifestyle, we’ve got 5 tips to help you when buying a used car.

Top 5 Tips for Buying a Used Car

#1 Budget

budgeting for car payment

No matter how much we may want that fancy sports car or luxury vehicle, it may be just out of reach when it comes our budget. Sit down and figure out how much you’re willing to spend. Keep in mind the added expenses that may come afterwards, such as insurance, registration and fuel.

#2 Research

researching cars online

The amount of things you need to consider in relation to the type of car you’re in the market for can be daunting. Narrow your choices down by jumping on carsales.com.au and begin your research. Some things you might factor in, include:

  • Make and model. With so many car companies around, there are a vast makes and models to choose from. Research different brands to find out their reputation or seek advice from your mechanic.
  • Body type. How you use your car, whether it be for work or just getting from A to B, will determine the body type of the car. If you’re looking for something small, a hatchback will suit you. But if you need something with a little extra muscle, a ute or SUV will get the job done.
  • Depending on where you live, may increase or limit your options. There may be some cars that are not readily available to check out or test drive.
  • Dealer or private. You should also decide whether you would by a new or used car through a dealer or a pre-loved car from private seller.

#3 Contact the Seller

man talking on mobile phone

Don’t be afraid to ask the seller as many questions as possible. Questions you could ask:

  • How long have you owned the car?
  • Why are you selling it?
  • Has it ever been damaged or in accident?
  • What is its current condition?
  • Is it roadworthy?

#4 Arrange an Inspection

man looking at a black car

If the seller is private, insist on inspecting the car at their home. This will allow you to see the car in the flesh (or metal) before purchasing. The best part is you don’t have to be an expert to do a simple check of the car. A few things to look for during your inspection:

  • Inspect the car during the day as it easier to spot marks, dents and rust
  • Check underneath the body, bonnet and carpet of the car for signs of rust, welding, or spray paint that could indicate body repairs
  • Check the gaps between the body to ensure they are aligned properly as it could indicate the car has been in an accident.
  • Using the dipstick with the indicated levels, check the amount of oil as well as any oil spots under the bonnet.
  • Check all tyres, even the spare, to ensure there is plenty of tread
  • Check all features inside the car, as well as seatbelt and the front seat, are working correctly.
  • Check the odometer to see how many kilometres the car has travelled.
  • Start the car when the engine is cold to reveal any problems such as faulty starting or smoke.

#5 Payment & Paperwork

signing a vehicle sales agreement

If you’re uncertain about anything, you can have your local mechanic conduct a pre-purchase inspection. If the car ticks all the boxes, then all that’s left to do is buy it. Before you have the keys handed over, you should ensure that all the registration and service history documents are in order. This will be handy when determining that the details of the seller check out and there is nothing that they haven’t mentioned. Make sure you have the original copies of the document and a receipt of purchase.

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