Julia Pannett

Car Insurance

14 Sep 2015

Used Car Buying: What to know, question and negotiate

Are you weighing up the pros and cons of buying a used car over a brand new model? While the search for a new set of wheels should be exciting, buying a used vehicle can be a little more complex than buying a new one. Whether you’re buying privately or from a dealership, there are a few things to consider when comparing used cars. Here are some quick tips about what to look out for and question during the purchase process.

Check for external damage

External paint or panel damage can often be obscured by wet weather or dark lighting. It’s a good idea to arrange an inspection during the day, when it’s bright and you can make a clear assessment of any damage. If there are inconsistent panel colours or ripples in the paint work, ask the seller why the panel needed to be replaced or sprayed over. It’s also really important to check for lifting or loose panels, as this is can indicate unfixed damage.

Internal wear and tear

A degree of internal wear and tear may be expected, depending on the age and usage level of the vehicle. Typically, demo cars for sale will not have the same extent of internal damage as older cars. If the car you are inspecting has car seat covers and floor mats, be sure to check under these as they may be concealing damage to the original upholstery or carpet. If the car has air conditioning, electric windows, a radio or navigational device, test them to ensure they are all functioning correctly. Also remember to check the horn, windscreen wipers and dashboard lights.

Dealership or private?

Will you be searching for your dream car at a second hand car dealership, or negotiating privately? There are pros and cons for both, and it’s important to know what to look out for. Dealerships are held to strict selling regulations that decrease the chance of you purchasing a defective vehicle. They may also provide you with a warranty at the time of purchase. Unfortunately, the overheads involved in running a dealership mean you may pay more and won’t have as much room to negotiate on price. You will likely be dealing with someone who has a commission incentive to sell you a car. If you choose to buy from a private seller, you may have a better opportunity to negotiate on price and get a better deal, but are unlikely to get an after sale warranty. Remember that this sale is not governed by the same regulations as buying from a dealership and carries more risk.

Mechanical assessment and car history report

We recommend that you seek an independent mechanical assessment before purchasing a used vehicle. A qualified mechanic will be able to give you reliable advice about any risks and the vehicle’s worth. As well as an independent mechanical assessment, you should note down the VIN number for the vehicle and request a car history report (otherwise known as a REVS check or PPSR report). A comprehensive REVS check can include a car price guide, information about whether the car has ever been stolen or written off, whether the odometer reading is correct and further information about the safety and emission ratings.

Take notice during your test drive

Although an inspection by an independent mechanic should raise any major concerns, it’s still important to be mindful of a few things during your test drive. If the car is involuntarily veering left or right on a straight road, there may be an issue with the wheel alignment. It is equally important to test the brakes and ensure that the car stops smoothly and without difficulty when the brakes are applied. If you are test driving a manual car, ensure the gear changes are smooth and without unusual sound. Also listen for any uncommon noises when you drive over speed bumps, as this can indicate issues with the suspension or bodywork. Any issues like these in second hand cars require further assessment and should not be ignored.

Organise insurance before purchase

Remember to organise a car insurance quote and cover before you make final payment and drive the car. If you are weighing up between different makes and models, remember these are variables that will affect the cost of car insurance. You can compare the benefits of Comprehensive Car Insurance, Drive Less Pay Less, Third Party Property Damage and Third Party Property, Fire and Theft online today.

Our final tip for purchasing a second hand car

Do your research, know what you’re looking for and don’t be afraid to question anything you’re not sure about – you’ll save yourself money in the long run.

Benefits are subject to the terms and conditions including the limits and exclusions of the insurance policy. Any advice provided is general only and may not be right for you. Before you purchase this product you should carefully read the Car Insurance Product Disclosure Statement and consider the Target Market Determination to decide if it is right for you.