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Tips When Buying A Used Car

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Get a REV or PPSR report for your vehicle is obviously an important step when buying a used car. It’s not, however, the only step. A PPSR report can tell you a lot about a vehicle’s history, but there are some things you won’t find out without a little bit of personal effort. So here are some tips for further steps to take when considering buying a used car.

Contact the Seller

After reading through the ad thoroughly you’ll want to contact the seller directly. Make a list of all the points the advertisement itself doesn’t answer. Things to consider include:

  How long has the seller owned the vehicle?

  Why are they selling it, exactly?

  Are there any issues not clearly visible in the photos attached to the ad?

  Will the vehicle pass a roadworthy inspection?

Make a note of everything they say, as you’ll want to check it all yourself to see if they’re being completely honest with you.

Arrange an Inspection

If it’s a private sale and not a dealer, insist on inspecting the car at their home address. If they’re unwilling to let you inspect the car there, they might be trying to hide something from you.

Some points for inspecting a vehicle:

  Try to arrange the inspection during the day in good weather. Inspecting the vehicle at night or in poor weather can hide dents, scratches, and other faults you might be looking out for.

  Check under the car, bonnet, and carpet. Be on the lookout for rust and any sign that the vehicle has been repaired after a crash, such as welding or paint overspray.

  Make sure gaps between body panels are equal, otherwise it could indicate a poor repair job after a crash.

  Check under the bonnet for oil leaks and use the dipstick to check the oil levels. If the oil level is low, it could be a sign the owner hasn’t been looking after the vehicle properly.

  While checking the oil, check the cap for a white, mayonnaise-like substance. This can indicate a leaking head gasket which can be an expensive fix.

  Always check the tyres to see how much tread is left, including any spares. Make sure the tread is wearing evenly on all tyres.

  Inspect the seat belts to ensure they’re working properly.

  Check how well the front seats reposition back and forth.

  Inspect the switches and features on the console to make sure they’re all functioning.

  Start the car when the engine is cold. This can reveal issues such as smoke or engine wear. If the car has been warmed up, the seller could be trying to hide something.

Test Drive the Vehicle

If possible — and if you think it’s safe to do so — take the vehicle for a test-drive.

  Turn the radio off so you can hear any unusual or worrying sounds.

  Try to drive on different road surfaces to give yourself a sense of how the car behaves.

  Get to highway speeds if possible to see how the engine copes under pressure.

  Check the handbrake on a steep hill to see if it’s working properly.

  If you’re driving a manual, check to see that the clutch doesn’t slip.

  Check that the transmission goes up and down gears smoothly.

Get a Professional Check

After your personal check passes your personal satisfaction, then’s a good time to get a mechanic or a member from a state roadside assist service to perform a thorough, professional check on the vehicle.

Combine all of this with a REV/PPSR report of the vehicle and you’ll know whether or not you’re looking at a sound investment, or a waste of precious time and money.



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