What To Look For When Buying A Used Car

Buying A Used Car

Buying a second hand car can be stressful, but following some handy advice means you can avoid some potentially nasty pitfalls.

Thanks to the NSW Fairtrading office, a Sydney car dealer has been ordered to pay $37,000 in fines in fines and penalties arising from odometer tampering and the illegal sale of 20 vehicles. Clocked cars can be quite a problem, and the NSW Fairtrading office takes such issues quite seriously, urging anyone who suspects that a car odometer has been tampered with or clocked to come forward. The news reminds car buyers once more that buying a used car isn’t always a straightforward process.

Buying A Used Car

Buying A Used Car

Here are a few tips to look for when buying a used car.


It’s always useful to remember that you don’t have the same consumer rights when buying a car from a private seller, because the person you’re buying the used car from isn’t acting as a business, but is a fellow consumer. Always ensure the individual is who they say they are, and not a dealer in disguise trying to circumvent consumer protection laws by posing as a private seller. Doing a quick Google search on the ad’s number could discover any other ads that person might have online.

The examination:

Always examine a car during daylight if possible, and take as much time as needed. Don’t be afraid to bring a checklist with you – general checklists can be found online. Take a test drive to see how it feels on the road and if possible have a trusted mechanic check it over for you – while you may already be in love with the car, they’ll have the necessary neutrality to make a sound decision on its road-worthiness. Basic checks include dents/scrapes, panels not matching up, hidden signs of damage such as rust under the wheel arches. Mileage-wise, compare the odometer with general cabin wear and tear, such as the seat belt, driver’s seat or steering wheel.

Know who you’re dealing with:

If you’re buying privately, meet the seller at their home and always ask for ID such as a utility bill – you can make sure the car’s documentation matches that of the seller. Also check that all the documents  matches the car and its engine number.

For dealerships, do a little research online or ask around – find out if they have a good reputation, are members of any organisations and if they have any after sales services etc.

The fine details:

Some things you can’t see with your own two eyes. There are various websites such as Revscheck that offer background checks to ensure there’s no outstanding finance on the car.

Whether you’re buying a used car from a private dealer, a showroom or at auction there are a few things to look out for before making a purchase and it pays to do your homework when it comes to buying a second hand car.

Lastly have an idea of the make and model that’s right for you. Shop around to find out how much you should expect to pay at purchase and how much the car will cost to run, including green slips and car insurance.

Breaches of the Motor Dealers Act can attract penalties of up to $110,000 for unlicensed motor dealing and $11,000 for odometer interference.

Further information about the regulation of the motor vehicle sales industry is available from the Fair Trading website.