Are you in the market for a used car? These tips for buying used cars can save you a lot of headaches.
Why can they cause headaches? Well, used cars are a great option for first time car owners or those looking to save some money while still getting a new(-ish), functional car. But because these cars have been used and previously owned, you run the risk of not getting exactly what you bargain for.
From hidden faults, undisclosed problems and shady dealings, the world of used cars can be a little daunting and scary. Don’t worry though, most of the time you’ll come away with a great new car and with our used car checklist you’ll be guaranteed a safe and stress-free buying experience.
10 Tips for buying used cars
Tip 1: Figure out what you want
This step seems a little redundant, after all what you want is a new car! But it’s important to go further than that and figure out what you really want in a new car.
Sedan or hatch? What manufacturing years are you willing to buy? How many kilometres on the odometer? Asking yourself these questions and settling on some definite answers can help you narrow down your choice and have a clearer idea of what you truly want in your car.
Tip 2: Establish a hard budget
And by a hard budget, we mean a set price that you are 100% not going to go over – not by even a couple hundred dollars. This sort of discipline will help you avoid any regrets when buying your car. To come to a set amount, take a look at all your sources of income and expenses.
Also factor in how much it will be to keep your car on the road, registration fees, stamp duty and insurance. All of these will factor into how much you end up finally paying for your car.
Tip 3: Do thorough research
There are a ton of car sale websites on the Internet. If you’re in Australia, the go to is the aptly named carsales.com.au. There you’ll find a ton of listings for cars with filters for models, years, odometer and engine types.
When doing research, be thorough and note everything down. It’s also good to be ruthless and mercilessly cross out vehicles that do not meet all of your requirements.
Also decide whether you’re going to buy from a dealer or you’re going to buy privately from a private seller. Dealers are more expensive but as a car buyer, you’re guaranteed statutory warranty. Private car dealers are usually cheaper but you need to rely on your own judgement.
Tip 4: Take a friend to the inspection
Once you’ve decided on a car, you’re going to have to go and inspect it. It might be at a used car dealership or the private seller’s house. Either way, bring a knowledgeable friend on the day. They’ll give you another perspective so ask them their opinion on things like the price and the car itself.
Tip 5: Check the car for mechanical problems
Most dealers will allow a test drive (if they don’t, consider it as a red flag). During your test drive ensure the car is in good condition and try to find any mechanical problems, both obvious and subtle.
Is it comfortable to drive? Do the heaters and AC work? Are there any abnormal noises or vibrations? Is transmission smooth, both automatic and manual?
Tip 6: Question everything
Trust your gut instinct during your test drive. If you feel anything is even slightly off, be sure to question the owner about it! A slight jerk in the brakes? A short delay when changing gears?
These things could lead to bigger problems in the future so be sure to get rid of all doubts before you pay for the car. Be sure to ask about how many previous owners the car has had, crash history and how much it costs to fill the tank.
Tip 7: Haggle like a pro
What makes a ‘tips for buying used cars’ list without haggling pointers? Negotiating a price with the dealer or private seller will be easier if you’ve previously set a maximum price you’re willing to pay (like in Tip 2). That way, you can set your starting price below that amount whilst leaving room to work your way up towards your maximum.
Be strategic in your haggling – too demanding and the dealer may not be willing to move; too soft and you’ll be seen as a pushover. Be firm but polite and be persistent without overdoing it.
Tip 8: Stick to your guns and walk away when necessary
At the end of the day, stick to the budget you’ve set yourself and walk away if necessary. That means that even if you’ve fallen in love with the car, if the purchase price is something you can not afford, you need to walk away. Be polite as you do, brush off any blowback from the seller and ask them to reach out if they decide to meet your asking price.
Tip 9: Arrange a safe transfers of funds
If you and the dealer or seller have come to an agreement on the price, the next step is to exchange funds. To avoid being scammed, be sure to make the transaction safely and securely. It’s generally recommended to make the transaction at an actual bank. Bank transfer, bank cheques and cash payments can all be done securely at a bank, with a banker helping you to do so.
Tip 10: Arrange insurance and registration transfer
These last tips for buying used cars are a final but important step. Before you drive your new car anywhere, make sure you arrange any necessary car insurance. Also be sure to make the previous owner transfer registration to your name, preferably no longer than a couple of days after purchase.
Drive away in your new (used) car stress-free!
If you’ve followed our ten tips for buying used cars and have checked everything off the list, you should be able to buy and drive your new car with confidence! And now that the car is yours, you’re free to make any changes and upgrades to it! At Seven Smart Auto, we provide a host of retrofitting services from decals to CarPlay installation. Talk to our team today and make your new car truly yours with your own custom retrofits.