Your Guide to Buying a Used Car

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1. Budget

Set a budget that’s fair to you and your circumstances. Remember that the purchase price is only the beginning, since there are ongoing running expenses like petrol, maintenance, insurance, and interest to consider. 

2. Research

Online sites like CarsGuide or Gumtree can give you a sense of what type of cars will be in your price range. There are thousands of cars for sale so doing ample research on makes and models before you purchase is essential. Be wary of vehicles that have a really low price as oftentimes that is a sign of issues that can be extremely expensive down the line. 

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There are plenty of car sale sites online that will allow you to search for vehicles based on make, model, price, body type, age, and location among other things. Some sites like CarSales have thousands of expert reviews, including used evaluations to determine what to look for when cars have a few years and kilometers on the clock. You should research what amount of kilometres is a lot for certain models as it can vary. 

4. Check VIN Number

It’s important you double-check the car you’re buying doesn’t have an outstanding loan on it, isn’t stolen or hasn’t been previously written off by insurance. Even if the seller seems honest you can never be too careful. 

All you need to do is enter the car’s Vehicle Identification Number online. This check is normally very cheap or free and can save you a lot of time and money. 

5. Ask Questions

Before meeting or calling a seller, make a list of things you want to inquire about. Freight experts from Camex recommend asking:

  1. How long has the car been theirs?
  2. Why are they selling it?
  3. Has the car ever been in an accident or damaged?
  4. What condition is the car in? 
  5. Are there any faults not listed in the ad?
  6. Is it roadworthy?
  7. What is the car’s service history?

6. Inspect

Even if you aren’t super car savvy it is essential you do a basic inspection before purchasing. It may be a good idea to ask a friend or family member who has knowledge of cars to come along so they can help you. Organise the inspection during daylight hours when it isn’t raining as these conditions could make it hard to see marks, rust and dents. 

The auto experts from 12 Volt Customs suggest checking the following:

  1. Check under the car, bonnet and carpet for rust, evidence of welding or paint overspray. These are telltale signs that the car was involved in an accident and repaired. 
  2. Under the bonnet look for signs of oil leaks and check the oil level to ensure the car has been taken care of properly. 
  3. Check for a leaking head gasket by inspecting the oil filler cap for a thick, white substance. 
  4. Check the tires and make sure they are worn evenly and have a lot of tread. Ensure you also check the spare tyre. 
  5. Sit in the car and make sure the seatbelts are functioning properly and aren’t frayed or loose, test any buttons, window wipers, the horn and move the seat to ensure everything works smoothly. 
  6. Start the car and make sure everything is running smoothly.

Once you are satisfied with your own inspection, it’s wise to have a mechanic do an extensive inspection. You will have to pay but this is a great investment and will ensure the car is worth purchasing. 

8. Test Drive

A test drive is very important when purchasing a used car. A lot of issues may come once you start driving that you could not have noticed from a stationary check. 

When you do a test drive, the drivers from iChauffeur Melbourne suggest checking the following:

  1. The steering wheel: when you are still parked turn the steering wheel and listen for any abnormal sounds that could be an indication of issues with the power steering.
  2. Test the handbrake on an incline.
  3. Drive with the radio off so you can listen for any noises.
  4. If permissible, drive the car on a highway and on a variety of road surfaces.
  5. Make sure the breaks function well. 
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

9. Negotiate

Once you have completed a thorough inspection, you will have the tools to negotiate a price with the seller based on what you have found. Negotiation experts from Close Consulting recommend making a list of any defects you have found and then working out the cost of fixing them. You can then bring this information to the seller as a bargaining tool.

If the car has no obvious defects you can still try to negotiate the price, just make sure your offer is reasonable. 

10. Close

Once the sale is imminent you will want to get all your ducks in a row and ensure you get everything you need from the seller. Some important things that you need to request are original copies of the registration and service history paperwork, ensure the details match the sellers and everything is accurate and a receipt for the payment or deposit on the car. The receipt should have the seller’s details. State registration papers should include a receipt. 

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