Used Car Buying Checklist

  • Posted 24 Dec

Used Car Buying Checklist

Buying a used car can save you a lot of money, but you also need to be a little more careful. Faulty mechanics, dodgy dealers and tricky price negotiations can make your ‘bargain’ buy a bit of a nightmare. To help you avoid getting stung, we’ve put together the following used car buying checklist. 

Calculate Your Budget

It’s not all about the cost of the car itself. While this will be your main investment, don’t forget to include insurance, maintenance, running costs and registration fees. Once you’ve put it all together, ensure you stick with what you can afford based on the overall figure of running and maintaining a car.

Do Plenty of Research 

Before you haphazardly agree to buy a car on a whim, do your research first. Get acquainted with the different models and general market prices available. When negotiating with a dealer or individual, you want to have a rough idea of what the car is worth first. You should also be mindful when you’re being offered a deal that’s well below market value. This usually suggests that there may be something wrong with the car. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, we do suggest doing thorough checks on the vehicle first. Stick to the old adage: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What Are Your Needs? 

Many people make the mistake of purchasing a car based on colour, style and a vague idea of what their actual needs are. This often leads to buyer’s remorse, which is why we suggest you compile a checklist of your personal requirements. Think about the following questions, for example: [unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • Will you be driving off-road regularly?
  • How many km’s will you be driving per week?
  • Do you need a large boot?
  • Does the car have a working A/C?


How to Research Car History 

It’s always a good idea to verify a seller’s claims about the history of the car, such as servicing and number of car owners. You don’t want to be stuck with a car that’s been stolen or has an outstanding loan attached to it. To do this, get your hands on the vehicle’s VIN number and crosscheck the information you’ve been given by the garage or private seller. This will usually cost you a small fee, but it’s definitely worth the peace of mind it will bring. A site like provides the option of searching vehicles who provide this type of detailed report. It’s a good place to start when looking for a second hand car.

Have the Car Checked 

When buying a used car, don’t rely on your own expertise, unless you’re a mechanic. Have a third party check it out for you as well, just to get a second opinion. Even if you have to pay an automotive centre for an evaluation, it’s worth the thousands it could save you down the line. Companies like RAC and RACQ and RACV offer roadside assistance as well as onsite vehicle inspections where they’ll go to where the vehicle is situated and run some tests.

Organizing Test Drive 

Don’t forget to take the car out for a good spin before you agree to buy it. The car may pass every test with flying colours, but the test drive will reveal any problems that you didn’t pick up in your other checks. Ensure that the handbrake works, that you don’t hear any suspicious noises and that all gears work flawlessly and that you like the actual ‘feel’ of the car when you drive it…

Ask Plenty of Questions 

When you are shopping for a car, it really doesn’t pay to be shy. Break out of your shell and ask as many questions as you need. If you’re unsure about something, ask for clarification.

These are just a few useful questions you may want to ask:

[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • How long has the car been on the road or off, as the case may be?
  • Why is it being sold?
  • Is it in good condition?
  • Ever been in an accident?
  • Will it pass road worthy requirements?

[/unordered_list] Many people are happy to withhold information, but will buckle when asked a direct question. Write down any concerns while looking over the car and go over them all before signing on the dotted line. Speaking to an experienced company who deals with used car situations on a daily basis can help ease any concerns you might have. If you need help with locating the right car or help with finance; speak to the team at Australian Credit and Finance today.

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