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Buying A Used Car
There are a few things to consider when buying a used car so you don’t end up with a lemon. Let AutoChic help you out...
1. Shop around
First you need to decide which kind of car you'd like - hatch, sedan, SUV, etc. Check out our Car Reviews section to see what's around, check out car classifieds or visit a used car dealership to suss out the scene.
2. Can you afford it?
After you've decided on a particular car or general style, check out redbook.com.au to see what the fair price is. Do you have enough money to buy it? If you don't, perhaps you might like to consider a loan if you think you can repay the debt. Click to our Car Finance page to get savvy on all the options.
3. Key questions to ask
So you've found a car you like. Check. You have the money to buy it. Check. And now you're face-to-face with the seller and your dream car. But before you put your feet over your head and hand over your hard-earned cash in a state of 'I've got to buy it now or it’s going to go!', make sure you consider the following...
- How many kilometres has it done?
- Is there proof of regular services?
- Check out how much rego is left and see if there's any damage to the car that wasn’t listed on the ad - these can also be good price bargaining tools.
- Is it still covered under warranty? There's usually some kind of warranty when you buy from a used car dealership.
- How safe is it? Weigh it up at ancap.com.au
- How environmentally friendly is it? Find out at greenvehicleguide.gov.au
- If you're at a dealership: do they accept trade-ins (if you want to use your current car as 'cash')?
4. Go for a test drive
We can't stress this enough! Make sure you try before you buy!
5. Get it mechanically checked
If you like it after the test drive, get the car checked by the NRMA (NSW), RACV (VIC) or other equivalent in your state. They'll inspect the car and give you a condition report. You can then take this back to the seller and use it to negotiate the price. If you don't want to get this, ask a mechanic to check over it and do some basic checks yourself (e.g. are all the lights, windows and locks working? Does the car get hot too quickly? Is there lots of smoke coming out the exhaust, etc.?).
6. Investigate its history
Is it stolen? Does it have any outstanding debts on it? Do a security check by calling your state's transport authority (e.g. Roads & Maritime Services in NSW, VicRoads in VIC, etc.) and quoting the car's VIN number, car model and year, rego number, engine number and the state where it was last registered. You can also get a check done at checkitout.com.au or carhistory.com.au.
7. Negotiate a price
It's unfortunate but buying a car can be like playing poker. Be careful how you act. Acting too eager and 'in love' with a car can send messages to the seller that they've 'got you' and that they can basically jack up the price and hard-sell you. Then on the other hand, if you don't act eager at all, then maybe they'll sell it to someone who loves it more. Second-hand car sellers often bump up the price thinking that you'll try barter it down.
8. Once you've bought it...Before you sign for the delivery or pick-up of your new car, inspect it in broad daylight to make sure:
- There are no dents and scratches, etc. that weren't there before
- It's exactly as it is explained in any written contracts you may have signed
- The odometer number (how many kilometres is has done) is reasonable to when you bought it
- Everything is working like before (e.g. lights, electric windows, locks, etc.)
- There's a car manual, service book, jack and spare tyre somewhere
- The appropriate paperwork has been done (contact the car authority in your state for details of what is required).
9. Do the paperwork
You have to switch over registration for used cars that are registered (e.g. some states require sellers to have a 'Roadworthy Certificate' before they sell a used car). The procedure can vary from state to state, so contact your state's transport authority for all the information (i.e. Roads & Maritime Services in NSW, VicRoads in Victoria, Department of Transport & Main Roads in QLD, Department of Transport in WA, Government of South Australia in SA, Department of Transport in NT, Rego ACT, and Service Tasmania.
Enjoy your new car!