7 Essential Tips for Buying Used Cars in 2023
Buying a used car can be an exciting yet daunting process. With so many options available, it’s essential to be well-informed and prepared to make the best decision for your needs. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll discover essential tips for buying used cars, from setting your budget and priorities to understanding warranties and safety certificates. So, buckle up, and let’s embark on a journey to find the perfect used car for you!
Setting Your Budget and Priorities
Before embarking on your journey to buy a used car, setting a realistic budget and defining your priorities is a vital first step to finding your perfect car.
Determine your Budget
When setting your budget, consider not only the purchase price but also ongoing expenses such as:
Keep in mind that new cars can depreciate as much as 30% in their first year, making used vehicles a more financially sound choice for many car buyers.
Your budget should also take into account potential future costs. For example, if the car you’re interested in has a history of expensive repairs or is reaching the end of its warranty period, you may need to allocate additional funds for potential issues down the road.
A realistic budget will ease your navigation through the used car market, aiding you in making a wise investment.
Identify your Priorities
Once you’ve established your budget, it’s time to identify your priorities in a used car. Consider your personal needs and lifestyle, such as the type of roads you’ll be driving on, the amount of cargo space required, safety features in the vehicle and its overall safety score, fuel efficiency, and any specific features you desire, like air conditioning or power windows.
Identifying your priorities will help streamline your search, allowing you to focus on the used cars that align with your needs.
Exploring Different Used Car Buying Options
With your budget and priorities in place, you can now examine the array of used car buying options at your disposal.
Online car-selling websites have revolutionised the used car market by offering convenience and a wide selection of vehicles at your fingertips. These platforms allow you to quickly compare prices and access detailed information about the car’s history and condition.
However, there are drawbacks to buying used cars online. One significant disadvantage is the lack of personal interaction and the inability to inspect the car or take it for a test drive before committing to the purchase. You must balance the convenience of online platforms with the potential risks that come from not physically inspecting the car.
Buying from private sellers comes with increased risks, as there’s a lack of quality standards, protection for the buyer and guarantees and warranties that you would get from a licensed motor dealer like Tru Blue Motors.
Car dealers provide a safer buying experience with warranties and guarantees, which can offer peace of mind to used car buyers. Benefits of purchasing from a dealership include:
- Statutory warranties
- A cooling-off period
- A guarantee of a clear title
- Access to a claim fund
Preparing for the Test Drive
A test drive is a crucial step in the used car buying process, as it allows you to experience the vehicle firsthand and identify any potential issues. Preparing for the test drive includes scheduling appointments, bringing a friend or mechanic for a second opinion, and knowing what to look for during the drive.
Let’s explore these aspects in more detail.
Schedule a Test Drive
Scheduling a test drive is essential to ensure the car is available and to allow time for a thorough inspection. When arranging a test drive, remember to bring your valid licence.
During the test drive, pay attention to the car’s performance, listen for any unusual noises, and check the brakes. Scheduling a test drive equips you better to evaluate the car’s condition, helping you make an informed decision.
Bring a Friend or Mechanic
Bringing a friend or mechanic along for the test drive can be invaluable in identifying potential issues and providing an unbiased opinion on the car’s condition. A knowledgeable companion can offer expert advice and help you assess critical aspects of the car that you may not be familiar with.
Having an extra set of eyes can give you greater confidence in your decision and ensure you’re making the best choice for your needs.
Inspecting the Vehicle’s History and Condition
A comprehensive inspection gives you a clearer perception of the car’s past and present condition, thus enabling you to make an informed decision. Let’s explore the necessities.
Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
The VIN is a unique 17-digit code that serves to identify the car and its history. Checking the VIN allows you to:
- Confirm the car’s identity and match it with the registration
- Uncover any past accidents
- Check the ownership history
- Identify any reported damage or theft
To perform a VIN check, visit the Personal Property Securities Register.
If you are purchasing from a car dealership, this process would have already been done for you.
Review the Car’s Service History
Reviewing the car’s service history is crucial, as it can reveal whether the car has been adequately maintained and if there are any potential issues on the horizon. Ensure the car has been regularly serviced at certified service centres, and verify that the odometer has not been tampered with.
A meticulous review of the service history provides a clearer view of the car’s past and helps anticipate any future maintenance or repair costs.
Again, if you are purchasing from a car dealership, this process would have already been completed, and you can rest assured that the car has been adequately serviced in its past life.
Look for Signs of Wear and Damage
Getting your car inspected involves checking the car’s overall condition, which includes examining the:
- Exterior for signs of wear and damage, such as dents, scratches, rust, and fading or chipping paintwork
- Interior for any damage or wear on the seats, dashboard, and other components
- Under the hood for any oil leaks, rust, or other issues with the engine and other mechanical parts. Pay attention to the car’s battery for signs of corrosion or cracks.
- The windows or windshields for any cracks or chips.
A detailed inspection of the vehicle for wear and damage enhances your understanding of its condition and helps forecast potential future repair costs.
If you are purchasing from a dealership, this inspection would have already been completed for you. You can rest assured that the car is free from oil leaks, engine issues, battery corrosion and cracks. If there are any non-mechanical issues such as dents, etc., you will be alerted to these issues by the sales representative, ensuring full transparency.
Understanding Safety Certificates
In this section, we’ll explore the importance of roadworthy certificates and how they can safeguard you as a buyer.
A roadworthy certificate, also known as a safety certificate, is a document that verifies a vehicle has passed an inspection conducted by a qualified mechanic. In Queensland, it is legally required when selling or transferring ownership of a vehicle to ensure the car meets the necessary safety criteria for road use.
A roadworthy certificate inspection assesses the vehicle’s safety components, including:
- Windscreen wipers
If the vehicle does not pass the inspection, the previous owner must complete the required repairs before the car can be sold or transferred.
However, it is crucial to remember that a road safety certificate only covers basic safety standards and may not cover additional mechanical issues. This could result in further maintenance and increased costs later down the track.
Benefits of Purchasing from a Dealership
Purchasing a used car from a dealership offers several benefits that can provide peace of mind and protection for buyers. In this section, we’ll explore the advantages of purchasing from a dealership, including:
- Statutory warranties
- Cooling-off periods
- Guarantees of clear title
- Access to a claim fund
Dealerships offer statutory warranties, providing protection for used car buyers. A statutory warranty is a legal guarantee that the car meets acceptable quality standards and is free from major defects. It typically covers major components such as the engine, transmission, and drivetrain, as well as other parts like the brakes, suspension, and electrical system.
Statutory warranties are usually valid for a duration of three to twelve months. This warranty provides protection for used car buyers and ensures that any defects or malfunctions that arise within the specified period will be covered.
Statutory warranties give buyers peace of mind, knowing that any issues that arise within the warranty period will be addressed and resolved by the dealership. All used car purchases from Tru Blue Motors qualify for a warranty through the Australian Warranty Network. Visit our Warranty FAQ page for more details.
Cooling Off Period
A cooling-off period is a set duration of time following the acquisition of a car wherein the purchaser can return the car for full reimbursement. In Queensland, the cooling-off period for purchasing a used car is 24 hours.
This period allows buyers to reconsider their decision and return the car if they change their mind or discover any issues not noticed during the initial inspection.
Find out more about cooling off periods here.
Guarantee of Clear Title
A guarantee of clear title ensures that the car is free from any liens or encumbrances, meaning there are no outstanding debts or ownership disputes associated with the vehicle. This guarantee provides the buyer with undisputed legal ownership of the car and protects them from any potential legal complications that may arise from the purchase.
Access to a Claim Fund
Access to a claim fund is a financial resource that is accessible to purchasers if the dealership does not fulfil its warranty. This fund provides the buyer with eligibility for compensation should the car be found to be faulty or not as described.
Access to a claim fund offers financial protection for buyers in case of dealership insolvency or fraud and ensures that they have recourse should any issues arise.
Negotiating the Best Deal
Armed with all this valuable information, you’re now ready to negotiate the best deal on your used car.
In this concluding section, we’ll equip you with negotiation tips such as researching the market value and the readiness to leave a deal that doesn’t meet your requirements.
Research Market Value
Researching the market value of the used car you’re interested in is essential to ensure you’re getting a fair price. By consulting online resources, you can gain an understanding of the car’s worth and use this information when negotiating with the seller.
Keep in mind that the market value can vary based on factors such as:
- the car’s make
- any money owing
Having a good understanding of the market value puts you in a commanding position to negotiate and secure the most favourable deal.
Buying a used car in 2023 involves careful planning, research, and negotiation. By setting a realistic budget, identifying your priorities, exploring different buying options, preparing for test drives, inspecting the vehicle’s history and condition, understanding warranties and safety certificates, and being prepared to walk away from a deal, you’ll be well-equipped to make the best decision for your needs. Remember, knowledge is power, and being well-informed is the key to finding the perfect used car and securing the best deal possible. Happy car hunting!
Frequently Asked Questions
How many kms is good for a used car?
It’s not uncommon to expect around 250,000 km on vehicles around 10 years old in Queensland. Below 150,000km, would be considered low kilometres.
How old should the used car be?
There is no ‘right’ answer to this question. It all comes down to the condition of the vehicle and how well it has been maintained. In some cases, a 10 year old vehicle can be in better condition than a vehicle half that age. as these cars typically have good condition components.
What is the lemon law in Australia?
The Australian Consumer Law ensures that consumers of motor vehicles (new and used) are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund if the purchased vehicle is unfit for purpose due to major failures. If the problem is minor, consumers have the right to accept a free repair from the retailer.
Where is the best place to purchase a used car?
For reliable and safe used cars, look to car dealerships like Tru Blue Motors, which specialise in helping customers find high quality used cars best suited to their needs.
What are some tips on buying a used car?
It’s important to look up the vehicle and view its Personal Property Securities Register certificate, and check for unseen damage. Consider extended warranties or certified cars to give you peace of mind. Have a qualified mechanic inspect the car and take it for a test drive before making the purchase. Look at the logbooks and see if there is a Roadworthy Certificate and Car Facts Report. Understanding any current warranties in place is also essential.