Top 10 Tips for Buying a Used Car (and surviving the experience)


    1. Look for a car that suits your needs rather than your “wants”. Consider such factors as your stage of life and income.  For example, if you are a student with limited income, you would be best to look for a smaller car that is economical to run, or if you are thinking of starting a family, a car with plenty of room for prams, child seat and easy accessibility.
    2. Make sure the seller actually owns the car and doesn’t owe any money  on it. Ask the seller for the registration papers and check that the Rego number, Engine Number and VIN or Chassis number match up with those on the vehicle.  Ask for ID or proof of purchase from a seller when buying privately. You can also check if money is owing on the vehicle by visiting the  Register of Encumbered Vehicles (REVS) website http://www.revs.nsw.gov.au.  The onus  is on the buyer to check this as a credit agency can repossess the car after you have bought it and leave you out of pocket if it has an outstanding debt.  You can obtain a Search Certificate costs only $13.80, and gives you gives you conditional legal protection against repossession due to the previous owner’s unpaid debt, provided you finalise the purchase by midnight of the following day. The Search Certificate will protect you for as long as you own the vehicle.
    3. Check the car’s service history. Regular servicing means the car has been maintained and less likely to need major repairs in the near future.
    4. Perform a Vehicle History Check . The RTA in NSW has an online facility for Vehicle History Checks. http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/myrta/vehiclehistory.html For $18 you receive information on the history of the vehicle including whether it has been in any major accidents, the amount of previous owners,  if it has been stolen in NSW or interstate, and how the vehicle was used (private or business).
    5. Check that registration has not been cancelled due to unpaid fines. The RTA website, http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/myrta/vehiclehistory.html , also offers a Free registration check.

    6. Ask for a Safety Inspection Report that is not more than 42 days old.  A pass means the car is roadworthy.  If you have a friend with good mechanical knowledge, bring them along to inspect the vehicle for you as well as take it for a test drive.

    7. Budget for extra costs. Purchasing the car is only part of the transaction.  Make sure you budget for Transfer of Registration and insurance.
    8. Make sure you are eligible for finance. If you have no credit history or have had defaults recorded on your file in the past, you may want to arrange finance before you fall in love with your dream car to avoid disappointment.  Visit www.mycreditfile.com.au to request a copy of your credit file for $32.95.
    9. Check the warranty.  Is the car still under new car warranty?  Is it worth getting extended warranty?  Licensed Used Car dealers in NSW have a Statutory Warranty for cars under 10 years old or 160,000 km,  that is valid for 3 months or 5,000 km.
    10. Stay safe.  Avoid going to see private sellers alone and pay only by Bank Cheque not cash.  Be wary of sellers who want to meet in public places rather than their home.
Note that if you purchase a used car from a Licensed Used Car Dealer the Vehicle History, Registration, REVS checks and Safety Inspection have already been done for you.