Advice For Buying A Second-Hand Car

8th July 2024


Buying a second-hand car can be a smart financial decision, but it requires careful consideration and informed choices. In the following, we offer some tips on navigating the second-hand car market, ensuring you make a wise investment and get the best buy for your cash.

Budgeting for a car

Before you start looking for a second-hand car, it’s crucial to do your homework and set a budget. Opting for a second-hand model will save money, and keep costs and risks low – provided you don’t buy a lemon.

Determine your budget

Figure out how much you can afford to spend. Consider not only the purchase price but also ongoing costs such as insurance, maintenance, and fuel.

Research models

Research different car models that fit your budget and needs. Look into their reliability, fuel efficiency, and common issues.

Lean towards more common models; if there are a lot of a particular model around, chances are they are a good make, and it will be easier to find parts for any repairs. Car sale websites offer comprehensive reviews and comparisons.

Inspecting the car

A thorough inspection is vital to avoid costly surprises later. Consider taking it to a mechanic for a look-over if you need a second opinion.

Tip: When searching for second-hand cars, avoid cars from coastal regions unless they have been garaged; the salt air wreaks havoc on the chassis; you don’t want to end up with a rust bucket that doesn’t pass its next inspection.

Exterior inspection

Check the car’s body for dents, scratches, and rust. Ensure the tyres are in good condition and have even wear. Look for any signs of repainting, which might indicate past accidents.

Interior inspection

Examine the interior for wear and tear. Test all the electronics, including the lights, air conditioning, and sound system and make sure there are no warning lights lit up on the dash.

Test driving

Take the car for a test drive to assess its performance and handling.

Engine performance

Listen for any unusual noises coming from the engine. Pay attention to acceleration, braking, and steering responsiveness.

Checking the paperwork

Ensure all necessary paperwork is in order before finalising the purchase:

Service history

Review the car’s service history to ensure it has been well-maintained. Look for regular servicing and any major car repairs.

Vehicle history report

Obtain a vehicle history report to check for any past accidents, thefts, or outstanding finance on the vehicle. This can help you avoid buying a car with hidden issues. Check that the car’s VIN – vehicle identification number – matches the VIN on the registration papers.

Insurance cost

Check or ask how much car insurance is for this model of vehicle – some cost more than others. Cars with higher repair costs generally have higher insurance premiums.

PPSR search

Check if the car is under finance with a PPSR search. This will cost only a few dollars and provides peace of mind that the vehicle is unsecured.

Negotiating the price

Negotiate the price based on the car’s condition, service history, and market value:

Market research

Research cars that have clocked similar kilometres in the second-hand car market to get an idea of their prices. Use this information to negotiate a fair price for the car you’re interested in.

Inspection findings

Use any issues found during the inspection as leverage for negotiation. If the car needs repairs or maintenance, factor these costs into your offer. Call a mechanic and get ballpark quotes if work is required. You may think you have found a bargain but if it is going to cost you hundreds to get the car roadworthy it may be best to keep hunting. Be patient.

Finalising the purchase

Once you’re satisfied with the car’s condition and price, finalise the purchase and enjoy your new ride!

Financing a second-hand car

Consider whether you need car finance to get you over the line, and make sure to incorporate the interest and fees into your budget when assessing affordability.

With these expert tips and tricks, you can navigate the second-hand car market with confidence and make a smart investment. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced shopper, being informed and thorough in your research will help you find the perfect car for your needs and your budget.

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    1. Check that the car’s VIN – vehicle identification number – matches the VIN on the registration papers.
    2. Smoke from the exhaust indicates an engine problem. Excessive exhaust noise or a knocking sound from under the car can indicate an exhaust system problem.
    3. Make sure there are no warning lights illuminated.
    4. Check for fluid leaks, rust, and any evidence of repairs.

Buying privately can be cheaper than buying from a dealer, however; buying from a dealer means you will likely get a warranty.

Aim for 15,000km per year. This means if you’re looking at a 10-year-old car, you should aim for around 150,000km. Less previous owners is another good sign to look out for.

The information provided in this blog is of a general nature and is provided without considering your specific objectives, financial situation, or needs. It is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as financial, investment, or other professional advice.

Before making any financial decisions or taking action based on the information presented, you are strongly encouraged to assess its appropriateness in light of your individual circumstances. Red Tree Finance does not intend to provide personalised financial advice, and you should seek independent financial, legal, tax, and other relevant advice tailored to your unique situation.

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WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. The above uses a comparison rate of 47% and upfront establishment fees of $420.



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