Used car buying tips

Tips for making a used car purchase safe and easy.

Used car buying tips - following these simple steps should make buying a used car a more enjoyable and safer experience.

Buying a used car be daunting and there’s always a danger that the car is hiding secrets that could end up costing you dollars.

But, if you follow these few simple used car buying tips and keep these steps in mind you should be able to get a good used car into your garage.

When considering a used car we recommend;

  • Look for a car on a sunny day. Don’t go when it’s wet because rain can cover up blemishes.
  • Take a note book and a pen to make notes as you go.
  • Closely check over any paperwork that might come with the car to try and determine its true history.
  • Look for a full and complete service history.
  • If the dealer/seller doesn’t let you look at everything, e.g., underneath the car, then ask yourself why not. They should give you access to every bit of the car.
  • Check for oil leaks by looking underneath the car to see if there are any oil stains.
  • Check the exhaust and under the bonnet of the car and look for signs of rust and damage.
  • Check the engine doesn’t have any corrosion or obvious leaks.
  • Look for uneven tyre wear, this could identify potentially expensive suspension repairs might be needed.
  • Look at the bodywork for any ripples or colour differences. If parts of the car are a different colour and it has obviously been resprayed, the best thing to do is to find out why.
  • Get any bodywork repairs that you suspect, or find a receipt for, looked over by an expert to ensure there isn’t damage remaining under the surface.
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection from a professional that you know and trust, even if you are considering a car from a dealership.
  • Invest in a vehicle history check. This will tell you crucial information about your prospective car, including whether there’s outstanding finance on the car and if it has ever been reported as stolen.
  • Warranty – check whether the vehicle will come with the balance of a new car warranty (these can be in effect for up to seven years), especially if a dealership is offering to sell you one.
  • If you purchase a warranty, or if your vehicle is supplied with a non-manufacturer warranty, check closely at what’s included and excluded.
  • A good and thorough test drive before agreeing to anything is a must. Put the windows down and listen closely for any strange noises, for example, during braking and gear changes.
  • During the test drive, try to focus on the practical features of the car and how it feels to drive.
  • Check that the brakes and the steering are responsive and in full working order.
  • Take a friend along on the test drive to get an objective perspective.
  • The interior of a car is a sign of how the driver looks after the car. If it’s a bit tatty, that’s an indicator of the behaviour of the previous owner.
  • Check all the compartments and interior features are working properly, such as the air-conditioning and radio.
  • If you are considering buying from a dealer, take some time to look into their company history.
  • Don’t feel pressured into buying the car by the dealer or seller. Give yourself time to seriously consider whether or not you should buy the car.
  • When you pick up the car, check to make sure everything else is the same as when you saw it the first time.
  • Check that they have made any changes you requested.

Looking to buy a used car? Why not check out our car sales listings in our Fee Free Car Classifieds.

In related car sales news; Car buyers hate pushy salespeople and Top cars for the school run revealed.

About the author

Joel Helmes

Joel is the founder, editor and managing director of Behind the Wheel. Joel has a background as a radio broadcaster with on-air roles at 4BC, 4KQ, 2KY, 2LT and 2UE amongst others, as well as a news editor and program director. Joel’s relationship with cars stems back to his early childhood learning to change oil and brakes with his father and uncle. This continued on into his driving years owning an assorted collection of cars.

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