Buying a used car: what NOT to forget

young woman test driving secondhand car

If buying a used car is on the cards this new financial year, it’s crucial you avoid making inspection mistakes and driving home a lemon.. because who wants that? 

Whether it’s your fifth or your first set of wheels, there are a bunch of things to remember when checking out a used vehicle.

According to fresh numbers from Australia-wide car repairer, mycar Tyre & Auto, 64% of Aussies are planning on buying a car in the next year or two, with 53% opting for pre-loved. 

But while over half of car buyers are turning to used cars instead of new, 83% are worried that the car they want will have a mechanical fault. 

And it all comes down to the inspections. 

Mycar Tyre & Auto found that over a third of car buyers (38%) feel inexperienced when looking at a used vehicle, while 33% feel anxious and 20% feel stressed.  

Common mistakes people make when buying a used car

The best thing about making mistakes is that we can learn from them. And when it comes to buying a secondhand car this is no exception. 

In fact, other than taking a used car out for a test drive, many Aussies aren’t doing the essential checks before signing the dotted line. So it’s important you note these down and even more important that you don’t repeat them. 

Common mistakes drivers make: 

  • Didn’t test radio: 34% 
  • Didn’t check oil: 29% 
  • Didn’t check child safety features: 29% 

Similarly, based on previous slip ups when it came to checking the functionality of a pre-loved vehicle, Aussie car buyers have committed to checking the following when performing their next inspection: 

  • Functioning air conditioning: 73%
  • Windows that go up and down: 69%
  • Functioning headlights: 68%
  • The boot being a good size: 66%
  • Functioning windscreen wipers: 63%
  • A good smell that is free of cigarettes/smoke: 58%

So, what are the top things to check when buying a used car? 

Along with the above mentioned checks, there are plenty of other things to look over when buying a used car. 

Here are some secondhand car buying tips: 

1. Check for any engine or mechanical faults: Whether you know your way around cars or not, this is an essential part of the pre-purchase inspection process. This also includes looking for worn tyres, weak suspension, general wear and tear. It is often worth getting a professional to perform an expert car inspection. These often cost between $200 and $400, depending on what you need checked but are usually worth it for the peace of mind they provide.

2. Do a background check: The sort of information you can get from a background check can really indicate the value of a vehicle and whether or not it is a dud. It can help you determine the accuracy of the odometer, whether there is outstanding debt on the car, if it’s roadworthy, if it’s had any major damage or been written off, and even if it’s been stolen. To conduct a background check, you’ll need the vehicle identification number (VIN), which will be written somewhere on the interior of the car or on the registration papers. These checks can be done online or over the phone via the government’s Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) or with an independent company. 

3. Weigh up the asking price with others on the market: Another important check is to have a look around at what other used cars of the same model and year are advertised for. On the one hand, if the asking price is particularly low, keep a keen eye out for any faults with the car as this may be the reason the price is reduced. Similarly, if the asking price is high, also note anything wrong with the car as it will help your case to negotiate the price being lowered. 

In the market for a used car right now and need a loan to get you there? Check out these deals below or head to our low interest car loans comparison page for more options.

Compare used car loans - last updated 28 May 2024

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  • Used Car Loan

    Fixed, Secured, No vehicle age limit

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    6.57% p.a.to 18.99% p.a.
    7.19% p.a.to 21.78% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Get a competitive fixed interest rate on a secured used car loan of up to $75,000 depending on your credit score. No vehicle age limits. Easy online application. Fast pre-approval. Pre-approved funds held for up to 3 months. No monthly account keeping fees, no exit fees and no early repayment fees. Flexible weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments on terms from 1 to 7 years.

    Repayment terms from 1 year to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 6.57% would cost $35,528.12 including fees.

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  • Used Car Loan

    Home Owner Discount, Up to 5 years old, Variable, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    7.49% p.a.
    8.36% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Eligible for homeowners only. Low fixed car loan rate for purchasing new and demo vehicles from dealers or private sale. There is no monthly or ongoing fees and early payout options available. Winner of Mozo's Experts Choice Car Loan 2021 award^. Good credit history. Stable employment history and Australian citizenship or PR required.

    Repayment terms from 3 years to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 7.49% would cost $36,939.75 including fees.

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  • Car Loan

    Up to 7 years old, Fixed, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    6.49% p.a.
    6.84% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Purchase or refinance a new or used car, caravan or motorbike, up to 7 years old. Fixed rate with terms from 1 to 7 years. Make additional payments and free redraw. No early payout penalties. No monthly fees. Quick start application in less than 5 minutes online.

    Repayment terms from 1 year to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 6.49% would cost $35,460.64 including fees.

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  • Used Car Loan

    Home Owner, Up to 5 years old, Fixed, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    7.79% p.a.
    8.90% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Eligible for homeowners only. Low fixed car loan rate for purchasing new and demo vehicles from dealers or private sale. Early payout options available. Winner of Mozo's Experts Choice Car Loan 2021 award^. Good credit history. Stable employment history and Australian citizenship or PR required.

    Repayment terms from 3 years to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 7.79% would cost $37,196.87 including fees.

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  • Clean Green Car Loan

    Home Owner, New or Used, Fixed, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    6.49% p.a.
    7.61% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Get a 1% discount on your car loan interest rate if you buy a qualifying green car. Winner of Mozo's Experts Choice Green Car Loan 2021 award^. Good credit history. Stable employment history and Australian citizenship or PR required.

    Repayment terms from 3 years to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 6.49% would cost $36,090.64 including fees.

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  • Used Car Loan

    Up to 5 years old, Fixed, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    8.99% p.a.
    10.10% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Used Car Loan with a fixed rate for the life of the loan. Fast online application. Good credit history. Stable employment history and Australian citizenship or PR required.

    Repayment terms from 3 years to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 8.99% would cost $38,236.30 including fees.

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* WARNING: The Comparison Rate combines the lender's interest rate, fees and charges into a single rate to show the true cost of a personal loan. The comparison rates displayed are calculated based on a loan of $30,000 for a term of 5 years or a loan of $10,000 for a term of 3 years as indicated, based on monthly principal and interest repayments, on a secured basis for secured loans and an unsecured basis for unsecured loans. This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Personal Loan Awards

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