Buying a used car can be a frightening exercise, but these simple tips will help you find the right car without being ripped off.

1. Determine your Budget

When you’re looking at different makes and models also look into information  on how much parts cost in comparison to other makes as well as running costs and fuel consumption. You may also want to check on how much it will cost you to insure your selection.

2. Do your Research

There are several sites that you can use to research what is available in your price bracket. These sites give you some insight into why different models attract their price.  Be wary of cars that seem too cheap. If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.

3. Refine your search

Create a shortlist of your favourites and compare. Read up on reviews that may help you identify common issues to look out for in certain models.

4. Contact the seller

You’ll be wanting to know how long they have owned the car and why they’re selling. Ask if the vehicle has ever been damaged and if there is any damage not shown in the photos. Does the car have a documented service history and is it in a condition to pass a roadworthy?

5. Arranging an inspection

If the person selling the car is a private party and not a dealer, insist on inspecting the car at their home address. If the vendor isn’t willing to show you the car at their home address, they could be trying to hide something.

6. Check the car’s history

It pays to perform a REVS check or similar. For a small fee you’ll be able to confirm that the vehicle you are inspecting is not stolen, encumbered by an outstanding loan, or even a previous insurance write-off. All you need is the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).

7. Checking the car

Inspect the car in person.  It is also helpful to have a independent mechanic conduct a thorough inspection to make sure that you haven’t missed anything.

CarsGuide provides a suggested checklist:

– always organise inspections during daylight, never in the dark or in rain that could conceal body marks, dents, rust and other defects.
– check underneath the body, bonnet and carpet for rust and signs – such as evidence of welding or paint overspray — which may indicate the car has been repaired after a crash
– check the gaps between the body panels are equal – if not, this could indicate poor crash repairs
– under the bonnet, look for signs of any oil leaks. Use the dipstick to check the level of the oil. If the level is low, the owner hasn’t been looking after the car properly
– look around the oil filler cap for a white mayonnaise-like substance – this could be an an indication of a leaking head gasket which can be very expensive to fix
– check all tyres – including the spare – to make sure there is plenty of tread and that they’re wearing evenly
– inside the car, make sure the seatbelts work correctly and aren’t damaged, the front seats move properly and all switches and features work
– try to start the car when the engine is cold, which can help reveal problems like poor starting or smoke that indicates engine wear. If the seller has warmed the car up, they could be trying to hide something.

8. The test drive

– before you drive, turn the steering wheel from one lock to the other to check for any play, or any irregular noises that could indicate power steering problems
– test the handbrake on a steep hill to make sure it’s correctly adjusted
– listen for any irregular noises from the engine, and make sure the radio is off
– drive the car at highway speeds if possible, and try to find different road surfaces to give a better impression of how the car behaves
– check that the transmission shifts up and down through the gears smoothly, and that the clutch on a manual doesn’t slip and actuates smoothly

9. Price negotiation

The seller will usually have allowed some room for negotiation on the price. If you have discovered any problems you can use the cost of rectifying these to negotiate the price down accordingly. You’ll still have an additional opportunity to discuss a figure that you’re both happy with.

10. Payment and paperwork

Ensure all of the service history and registration paperwork is provided and that the details match the seller.  You’ll need to see originals.  Ensure that you receive a receipt for any payment listing the sellers full details, including your deposit. You will both need to complete your relevant sections of transfer paperwork required by the Department of Transport.

Call to book your pre purchase inspection

0499 405 902

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