Car Checks To Complete Before Buying a Used Vehicle

When looking to buy a new or used car in Australia there a few checks you should complete to help ensure you don’t buy a lemon. We’ve summed them up below to give you total peace of mind when choosing your next car.

There is no denying purchasing a new car is a big decision, which is why we have compiled a list of car checks to complete before you sign along the dotted line. From comparing car prices to checking the car’s mechanics, we’ve got the guide that’ll ensure you cover all bases. 

This article will give you peace of mind when purchasing your new car. 

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

5 Car Checks to do Before Purchasing a Used Car

1. Check the car’s price.

We’re sure you’ve heard of the website In fact, it’s likely where you found your current car, if you have one. However, this website is also going to be your new best friend when it comes to comparing market prices. 

Before you set foot in a car yard, do some research to find out the average price for similar makes and models of the car you’re after. It’s important to remember the price of a used car is not just determined by its make and model. The most influential factors in the pricing of a used car are kilometers, travel and age.

2. Check the car’s appearance.

Now you’ve got the best price on your used car, it’s time to go and see the vehicle and take it for a test drive. 

The easiest car check to complete when seeing a used car is to personally inspect the car’s appearance. When looking, check for things like rust marks, balding tyres, dents and scratches on the body of the car.

Most importantly, ensure you check under the bonnet for any rust, leaks or anything suspicious. However, if you’re not quite a car connoisseur, we suggest getting in touch with your local mechanic.

3. Check the car’s history.

Like any second-hand item, checking the car’s history can provide a valuable insight into its quality. For a small cost, a car history check can be performed easily online, although to complete the test you will need access to the car’s registration number, engine number and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You should be able to find most of this in the owner’s manual.

Once complete, the car history check will reveal if the car is listed as stolen, has ever been written off, or if there is a discrepancy in the odometer readings. When speaking with the seller you also want to ensure the car has no undeclared debt attached to it. 

Car financing is often a hidden cost prospective buyers overlook when purchasing a vehicle in haste. The best way to check this is to jump onto The Australian Government Financial Security Authority website. Through this site you’re able to complete a Personal Securities Register test.

4. Check the car’s mechanics.

The best way to ensure you aren’t about to buy a lemon is to get your local mechanic to check over the car. Most mechanics will offer a ‘pre-purchase vehicle inspection’ for a small cost. This will cover a detailed check of the interior and exterior of the car as well as the engine bay, brakes, suspension, wheels and tyres. 

A pre-purchase vehicle inspection will take roughly an hour to complete and you should get the results on the day. From here, if the report returns with issues, you may re-negotiate the price with the seller if the faults were not initially known.

5. Check the car’s paperwork.

Once you’ve completed a car check with your local mechanic and determined the car is mechanically sound, it’s time to check the paperwork. No matter the car or person whom you are looking at purchasing a used car from, it is integral you request all the paperwork surrounding the vehicle. 

Firstly, if you’re purchasing directly from a used car dealer, ensure you read any loan agreements thoroughly, checking terms and conditions carefully. If you’ve opted to buy your car privately, ensure the car has a valid road worthy certificate, registration papers and vehicle log book. 

Finally, ensure both yourself and the previous owner complete the transfer of ownership papers correctly.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Used Car Checks

1. What is a car check?

A car check is the thorough mechanical check completed by a mechanic. During this check a comprehensive report on the engine bay, wheels, brakes, suspension as well the interior and exterior of the vehicle will be completed.

2. How can I check how much a car is worth?

There are many variables which determine the value of a car. These include age, kilometers traveled and the condition of the vehicle. Various websites, including RACQ, offer a rough price guide for new and used cars, which can help you estimate the value of your car. However, if you do require an accurate vehicle value, one which would stand up in a court of law, you should enlist the services of a qualified vehicle valuer.  

3. How do I do a safety check on a used car?

The only way to get an official safety check on a used car is to complete a pre-purchase inspection. These inspections can be completed by a local mechanic at a small cost.

4. How much does a car check cost?

A car check can set you back as little as $30 when completed through some insurance companies. However, the easiest option is to get in contact with your local mechanic for a quote on a car check. 

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      Katrina Stapleton

      Senior Digital Content Specialist

      Katrina Stapleton is a Senior Digital Content Specialist at Localsearch with a background in social media and marketing. Although most of her experience lies in the entertainment sector, Katrina has written content for a vast array of industries including tourism, hospitality, retail and property development. Katrina is an avid dog lover, who finds a way to weave her fur-baby, Mylo, into most conversations. Aside from being a self-confessed bookworm, Katrina can often be found checking out the Gold Coast's latest coffee nook, paddle-boarding or baking up a storm in her free time — all with Mylo by her side, of course! As a Senior Digital Content Specialist, Katrina enjoys sharing her knowledge and passions on the Localsearch Blog.