Purchasing a brand new car from a dealer is exciting - choose your colour, pick out your options and then there's that new car smell. Unfortunately, there are many of us out there that will never have the means to do that. So where does that leave us? Either catching public transport, hitching lifts with friends or in the second hand car market. The purpose of this guide is to let you know the dangers of this market and how to successfully find a car that suits your needs without getting ripped off.
Firstly, with so many thousands of cars available second hand, it is crucial to narrow down the field to a manageable amount. Things to consider are: where are you intending to drive, do you need a small, zippy car easy to park in tight city spots or a larger car to fit the family in on long drives. Then of course, there is the fuel economy. Generally speaking, smaller cars get you further on less fuel, but if you require a large car and still want good fuel economy, try looking for a car that has LPG. Just a word of warning here however, many cars fitted with LPG are ex-taxis with very high kilometres, so always check the history of the car, and ask to see the service book to check servicing has been maintained throughout its life. Also, petrol is not the only expense you will have, check out things such as transfer fees, insurance costs, and go to a mechanic and ask about its reliability and what things go wrong and how much they generally cost to fix.
Safety is another important consideration. For instance, if you are looking at a 4WD just to drive around the suburbs in, is that bullbar really necessary, or can it be removed to protect pedestrians? Some cars are safer than others, and size isn't the only factor. More information on the safety of a car you are considering can be found on the NRMA website under Used Car Safety Ratings.
So now you've decided on the car you want, it's time to search for it. What are the advantages and disadvantages of going to a car auction, or a second hand car dealer, or buying privately, maybe off ebay?
Generally speaking, I would reccomend steering clear of auctions unless you really know what you are doing. It costs money to bid and you may not win and unless you know a lot about cars you may not know what condition the car is in, imagine paying for an inspection and not winning the auction.
The advantages of going to a dealer depends on the age and kilometres on the car, as some come with a small warranty. Also, most of the checks verifying legal ownership have all been done for you, although I wouldn't take this for granted, its always best to double check. On the downside, the dealer is running a business and must make a profit, so you can expect to pay more than if you were to buy privately, but this could still be a good option particularly if you already have a car to trade and/or require finance, as this can be organised for you.
When you buy privately and can talk to the owner directly, you can find out a lot more about the cars history, whether its been in any accidents - look for long gaps in the service record, how many owners there have been, how good the fuel economy is, and how well it has been looked after. Purchasing a car from ebay is also extremely convenient, if I am looking for a specific model and colour in a certain price range, I can find it quickly and easily without having to traipse around from car yard to car yard to get what I want. For example a few clicks of the mouse and I have found my next car My new car Once you have decided on the car you want, its time for the due diligence. Contact REVS, either over the phone or online. For this you will need all the details found on the rego slip, number plate, chassis number and engine number. This will verify that the car is not stolen and has no money owing on it. Then it is time to have it professionally looked over - do not bypass this step - many people sell their cars because they just been told there are expensive repairs to be done. Unless you know a qualified mechanic who will come car hunting with you, it is best to contact an organization such as the NRMA who will examine the car and give you a written report on its condition.
OK, hopefully by now you have found your dream car that will give you years of trouble free motoring. Now all you have to do is pay for it. Unless you have the cash, you are going to need finance. However, that is a question for another guide!!