Tips For Buying A Second-Hand Car

Did you know that buying a vehicle that is just 3-years old can bring you savings of up to 40% of a comparable brand new car? While this huge saving makes buying previously-owned vehicles extremely attractive, there are risks involved. Check out these tips on how to avoid the “lemon” and ensure that you are getting the greatest value from your used car purchase:

1. Vehicle History

Checking the history of a car is essential, especially with a private sale. Ask the owner how long they have owned the vehicle, why they are selling and whether the car has ever been in an accident or has any other history of damage. Be cautious if the owner cannot provide you with the full-service history and logbook (verified with stamps and receipts) against which you should check the mileage compared to the odometer of the car. The older the vehicle, the more important it is to check the history of the vehicle. Always remember, if something doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and walk away.

VicRoads provides free registration checks online to ensure ownership of the car and that it isn’t stolen as well as that there is no outstanding debt on the vehicle.

2. Take A Test Drive

Arrange a test drive of the car whether you are buying through a dealer or privately. Remember to ensure that the vehicle is insured before setting off. Take a drive down quiet roads away from other traffic and distractions so that you can listen to the sound of the car and get a feel for how it drives. Make the following checks before and during your test drive:

  •  Walk around the exterior of the car and check for any damage as well as rust and leaks. It is recommended to do this during daylight hours.
  •  Check the tyres for unusual wear and tear which could indicate issues with steering alignment.
  •  Check under the bonnet for rust and/or leaks. Start the car and let it idle with the bonnet open and check for loud or strange noises and smoke or fumes coming from the engine.
  •  Drive the car at different speeds and get on the highway if possible to check whether the transmission shifts smoothly through all the gears.
  •  Test the brakes carefully to ensure that they are operating and that they aren’t making screeching or screaming noises or causing the car to veer. Park the car on a hill and check that the handbrake is working.
  •  Keep an eye out for any warning lights that appear on the display that may be of concern.

You don’t need to be an expert to perform these checks. You are basically giving yourself the opportunity to identify any noises, veering, instability, shaking or other tell-tale problems with the car. Also, see this as a chance to check if you are comfortable with the ride. If you aren’t satisfied or have concerns, move on to the next prospective buy on your list.

3. Expert Inspection

After your test drive, take the car to a licensed mechanic to have it expertly inspected. Voice any concerns that you may have encountered during your test drive. Prestige Car Care Clinic provides independent pre-purchase car inspections that are honest and unbiased. The inspection will include checking for any damage as well as assessing the overall operation to ensure the safety of the vehicle. These inspections are critical to ensuring that you don’t make an expensive purchase that could end up costing you more and more in the future. Prestige Car Care Clinic will assist you in finding a car that meets your requirements so give us a call now to book a car for an inspection.

4. Warranty

The history of the vehicle and the purchase arrangements will determine the warranty on the vehicle. Used cars that are purchased in Victoria from a licensed dealer, are under 10 years old and have less than 160,000 km on the clock, will give you a statutory warranty of 3 months or 5,000 km’s (whichever comes first). This statutory limitation for a warranty is the primary reason why it is recommended to only look at second-hand cars that have fewer than 160,000 km’s on the odometer. Remember that lower mileage (fewer kilometres) means less wear and tear!

A cooling-off period applies to used car purchases from licensed Victoria car dealers. However, private sales do not fall under the protection of consumer law. Warranties for private used car purchases would therefore only apply if the manufacturer’s warranty is still in force subject to specified terms and conditions and recommended servicing and maintenance of the vehicle according to the logbook. For more information, contact Consumer Affairs in Victoria.

Once you’ve done your due diligence and decided to by specific care, it’s time to take care of the paperwork. VicRoads will give you all the information on the documents you will need including roadworthiness certificate, transfer papers and a receipt.

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