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 etc. 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.

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