Buying a used car could save you a fortune over a new one, but there are risks involved. Care needs to be taken to ensure you make the right purchase and you don’t end up with something that could come back to haunt you. So here is a little-used car buying guide to help you buy with confidence and get the right deal too.
1. Research the Right Used Car for You
First and foremost you must first decide what vehicle to make and model you want. There is so much variety in the used car market that your search can get overwhelming if you don’t narrow down what you want.
When doing your research, look at things like the car’s reputation on things like maintenance costs, pricing, and possible defects or common problems.
2. Interior Inspection
Get a good look and feel inside the cabin and make sure everything works. Make sure that there are no unusual or unwanted smells.
- Check the seats, flooring, and roof for signs of damage or excess wear.
- Test all electrical and electronic components are in good working condition, including all lights, buttons, mirrors, air-conditioning/heating, music system, and infotainment unit controls.
- Check the handbrake and the instrument panel. Keep an eye out for any warning lights when you turn on the car.
3. Exterior Inspection
Here you’ll be looking for things like rust and any chips, scratches, and dents to the frame and bodywork (including underneath the car). If anything looks like it’s been repainted, it may be a warning sign that it’s either been in an accident or rust damage has occured.
- Check the tyres. Not only are they expensive to replace, but worn or incorrectly aligned or installed tyres also pose a safety risk.
- Check the tread depth of each tyre and if the wear is even across the tyre. Note if the tyre sidewall has cracks, bulges, or scuffing, indicating damage. And don’t forget the spare tyre.
- Check the windows and windscreen for any chips or cracks.
4. Under the Hood
The engine is the most important part of any vehicle. Pop the bonnet up and visually inspect the engine for fluid leaks and oil stains, corrosion, and cracked hoses or belts.
- Check the engine oil and transmission fluid levels and for discolouration — in general, the oil should be light brown to honey gold, transmission fluid should be pink or red. Check the owner’s manual for specific details as some may differ.
- Check the health of the battery, radiator coolant, and other reservoir fluid levels.
- Startup the engine and note of any funny sounds, smells, or leaking.
5. Test Drive
You should never buy a used car without doing a test drive. Mechanically, you are listening for any unusual sounds or noises as you are driving, such as knocking, squeaking, whirring or loud thrumming, which indicates a problem somewhere. Also, test the brakes thoroughly and that the window wipers work.
But just as importantly, how does the car feel like when you’re driving? Does it accelerate smoothly? Do you feel cramped or uncomfortable in any way? Do you have a good view in front and around the car? If you love how the car handles and it’s in good condition, consider making an offer!
6. Check the Paperwork and History
Make sure the used car you intend to buy does not have any encumbrances that will give you unnecessary headaches or even potentially end up having it be repossessed.
For this you need to do an online search on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the used car (or the serial number if you only have the manufacturer’s number).
The PPSR will then email a search certificate to you stating if there’s any money owing on the car. You should also receive additional information such as whether it has been written-off or stolen, registration number and expiry make, model and colour of the car, and if it’s part of the faulty Takata airbag recall.
Ask the seller for the full-service history of the car to make sure it has been properly maintained.
7. Keys and Owner’s Manual
This may seem trivial but is sometimes overlooked. Every brand new car should come with 2 keys, so make sure that the seller gives you both keys. If the seller or owner has only one, it could cost you a pretty penny if you want to make another copy. And make sure that they still have a copy of the owner’s manual too, just in case you may need it.
8. Pre-purchase Vehicle Inspection
For greater peace of mind, getting the used vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic is also highly recommended. Many companies and mechanics offer a pre-purchase vehicle inspection service that provides you a report of any mechanical problems found with the vehicle.
When buying from a dealer, they usually have their own mechanics go over the car before putting it out for sale, so in that case, you can decide if you want another inspection done by an independent mechanic. Even better than that though, you can request to have issues or imperfections corrected – and make this a clause of your deal!
9. Negotiate the Price
Negotiation is important when buying a used car. Take into consideration information such as any faults or needed repairs from the inspection as well as the expected market price you found through your initial research.
These issues can be used to negotiate a reduced price with the seller, so factor them into the offer you make.
Another important factor to consider is the warranty. A statutory warranty (also commonly known as a “lemon law”) applies to all vehicles bought from a licensed motor vehicle dealer. The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act requires licensed dealers to fix certain defects in used motor vehicles they have sold.
A statutory warranty also applies only to motor vehicles that have a purchase price of $4,000 or more, together with limits on age and the number of kilometres travelled at the time of sale. Private vehicle sales are not covered by this statutory warranty. This is commonly referred to as ‘buyer beware’. If you purchase a used car privately, and halfway home it breaks down, that’s on you!
So there you have it, 10 things to keep in mind if you’re considering what to check when buying a used car. And if you’re wondering, yes, the folks at Perth City Peugeot also have a wide range of used cars for sale, so why not go see if your next used car is one of them. Happy hunting!