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What to consider when buying a secondhand car? Buying a Second-Hand Car? 9 Essential Factors to Consider

16 July, 2018

Savvy car buyers can save a lot of money when they buy second-hand instead of new. Since new cars take a huge hit in value the moment their owners drive them out of the dealership, it often pays for a buyer to consider a newer second-hand car instead, says auto consumer advocate

Newer Second-hand Cars Maximise Value, Warranty for Their Owners

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Since, they say, the average new car drops 15 percent in value each year in its first three years and then drops off to 10 percent per year after that, buyers should look for cars with at least a year’s use. That way, Dog and Lemon points out, the car will still have plenty of time left on its guarantee, while still giving its new owner a deep discount.

In most cases, that’s savvy advice. To leverage that advantage fully, however, buyers must
beware of several pitfalls when they shop. Buyers must, therefore, look out for issues that can turn a great deal into a nightmare. These tips can help buyers get the most bang for their second-hand car dollar.

1. Make Sure There’s No Financial Encumbrances on the Car 

According to auto insurance giant Allianz, buyers should check the Personal Property Security Register (PPSR) before they plonk down their hard-earned money. To do so, you’ll need the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) Armed with that information, a buyer can either move on to another vehicle or insist that the owner pay the car off in full before they buy.

2. Beware of Odometer Tampering

Not only should you check the car’s certificate of registration and its current safety report, but you should look over the car’s service records. When an owner claims not to have the car’s records, move on, says Allianz.

Although some mechanics can detect odometer fraud, it has become more difficult as fraudsters employ better and better technology to scam buyers. Service records from reputable providers always log the VIN and the odometer reading. To be extra cautious, double-check with the provider to make sure that the records themselves aren’t forgeries.

Looking at a car’s service records also tells you if the previous owner has kept up with required services at the proper intervals. Neglecting routine oil changes and other maintenance tasks may result in a car that will break down prematurely.

3. Choose a Brand That Holds Its Value Over Time

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Certain brands have gained a reputation for consistent quality and safety in the vehicles they manufacture, says lending site
When you want lasting value with staying power, stay with tried-and-true brands with an outstanding reputation, say Finder’s automotive financing experts.

Look at the current lists of best-selling brand. As well as the lists of car makers with stellar after-sale service. This will narrow down your used car selections. Both customer satisfaction and popularity affect resale value.

4. Limit Your Selection to More Popular Colours

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If you plan to keep your second-hand car until the wheels drop off—or it turns into a collectable classic – colour needn’t be a factor. But, if you plan to resell your car after a few years, you need to know that colour should enter into your decision, says Huffington Post auto writer Emily Blatchford.

Bright or unusual colours like purple or orange, she said, make it harder to resell, since fewer people want those colours in a car. Sticking with neutrals, like grey, silver, or white is usually the best bet, since these colours are more popular.

However, she says, a buyer might get a better price on what she calls an ‘outlandish car’ if the seller has had a difficult time selling it.

5. Trim Down Your Search to Those Cars that Meet Your Needs

Even though you may be keen for a sports car, it may not be your best choice if you have a family to haul around or go off-roading on holiday, Blatchford advises. ‘Think about the requirements of your lifestyle’, she says.

Although your budget must factor into your search, you should start with the types of cars that meet your needs, says Blatchford. Fortunately, most car makers—even economy ones–have a wide range of vehicle types, so you can conceivably find something within your budget that will still tick off all your boxes.

6. Eliminate the Road Warriors

A car that’s piled up the kilometres since it drove off the lot brand-new has had more than its share of wear and tear. Parts start to wear down the more kilometres you drive. If you buy a car with a high odometer reading, you could be looking at a ton of repair bills not too much further down the road.

Instead, read the odometer listings carefully. Set a limit. Unless a car is exceptional, pass on one that goes beyond that limit.

Average usage, Blatchford says, is about 25,000 kilometres per year. If a car you’re considering hasn’t put that many kilometres on its odometer, that’s a good one to put on your short list.

7. Take a Test Drive

You may fall in love with a car’s sleek exterior or its cushy leather seats that smell like a saddlery shop. Until, of course, you take a ride in it—and discover that those sleek lines hide a machine that gobbles petrol like there’s no tomorrow. Or that those leather seats won’t slide up far enough to accommodate your short legs.

When you test drive a car, advises Blatchford, try everything—even the cup holders. If it’s winter, test the air conditioning. If it’s summer, check out the heating. Unscrupulous dealers may put vehicles with malfunctioning climate systems out for sale during seasons when buyers won’t be likely to try them.

8. Put Safety First

In addition to looking at each model’s safety ratings, make sure that it has basic safety equipment, such as electronic stability control (ESC), ABS brakes, and curtain airbags, Blatchford says. Other safety equipment that might make your ‘I want’ list are blind-spot detection features or park assist, particularly if you live in a city where parking and multi-lane traffic are common.

Have A Mechanic Look Over Your Final Selection

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You’ve found your dream car—or you think you have. Then you bring it home, and in less than a week, it blows a gasket.

Don’t let this happen to you. The road service experts at the Royal Automotive Association of South Australia (RAA) advise all second-hand car buyers to get an expert mechanic’s inspection before they sign on the dotted line. That way, you’ll be much less likely to have major mechanical problems down the road.

With these tips, you can be confident that you’ll find a car that will suit your needs, keep you safe, and give you many years of pleasurable driving.


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