Used cars

Everything you need to know to buy a used car!

When the time comes for a car-upgrade, buying a used car can be a confronting experience. If it’s not the pushy car salesperson that put you off, then it’s the private seller who has just as much junk in his car as your local tip. But with laying out cold hard cash for an instantly depreciating new model looking equally if not more deplorable, sometimes sucking it up and trying to deal with your unresponsive gumtree seller is the route we inevitably end up taking.

Stop. Right. There.

It’s not all gloom and doom.

You can actually get some pretty sweet deals on the private market, and at dealerships too. A massive help is when you know what car you’re looking for, and also what kind of car you’re trying to avoid. You can also refer to a used car buying guide.

The art of inspecting a car

If you’ve ever inspected a car from a private seller, you’ll know how awkward the process can be. Here is someone’s pride and joy – a vehicle they’ve (hopefully) nurtured over the years, and then you come in and start prodding and pushing, opening and peering.

The whole thing feels wrong…

But here’s the thing: It must be done.

Getting your hands dirty under the bonnet, lifting up old foot mats, cranking the radio, and yes, checking the smelly glovebox. Making sure everything’s in working order is crucial to making your decision. So jump into the driver’s seat and start fiddling.

Do you mind if I take it for a spin?

If the answer is no then you can walk away. Don’t buy a used car if you don’t know how it drives. Again, expect one of two things: the seller will either come with you, or they’ll politely ask for your licence as safety against you doing a runner.

When you’re out on the drive, this is really where you should be in critical investigator mode. Check the steering. Is it smooth, are you feeling resistance in the gearbox, does it break well? Basically, look out for any faults that may cost you in the near term. You’ll want to take that into your budgetary considerations.

Equally as important: does it accelerate well? Weak and poor acceleration can be an indicator that this car is in fact very much near the end.

So I’ve noticed a few gaps in the service log book… care to explain?

Asking for the service history is only a natural progression in any used car sale environment. If you’re at a dealership then these will be provided along with all the car’s technical details. But sometimes the private seller can be more reluctant to hand over the car’s history books. Make sure you have a detailed look. If you’re pressed for time and not feeling like sitting down for a coffee with your gumtree friend, then ask to take a photo and take a closer look in your cool-down period.

Be on the lookout for:

  • Long gaps between services
  • Large or abnormal work done on the car
  • Mismatching registrations or car details

 So, after some thought, I can offer you…

Coming in for the kill – sometimes it helps the process if you explain why you’re offering a given amount. Tell them about the scratches not the door, the problem with the air-conditioning – then contextualise your price with the nation that you’ll have to fix these things after buying, so you’re prepared to offer x amount.

If you secretly really want the car, then you can place your offer and promise to pay there and then.

Or you could just get it over with and buy the car, no bargaining needed. Done deal.

So what about buying from a dealership?

It’s safe to say that despite the pushy salesperson, you’re more likely to get a more honest rundown of the car. The main reason for this is that private sellers aren’t running a business selling cars. They don’t have a reputation to uphold.

Dealerships, despite their reputation, actually know a thing or two about cars. And if it comes to warranties, financing and all the boring but (totally necessary) paperwork, they can assist you with their experience, printers and they won’t insist on “cash only payments”.

The bottom line

While buying a used cars Perth can be a bit of a hassle, knowing what car you’re after, sticking to your budget, and not being afraid of the dealerships can actually get you a pretty good deal. And if you do end up at a dealership, make sure you ask about test driving a demo model. Don’t ask. Just drive.