One of the biggest financial purchasing decisions you will ever make is buying a car, even if it’s a used one. Buying a used car can be a good decision, as they are cheaper than new cars, but the buying process is not quite the same or simple, as there are a few different things that you need to take into consideration that you wouldn’t if you were buying a new one. The savings from buying a used car can be worth it, if you’re prepared to do a bit of homework.
We’ve come up with this used car buying guide to give you the information you need to know and guide you through the process on your used car buying journey.
Set a budget
Everyone’s financial situation will be different, but it’s important to first work out your budget. It will really help in the choosing of cars once you have figured out how much you can afford. Having that number will also help prevent you from overspending (which can be tempting to do when you see the choices on the market). This includes factoring possible repair or maintenance costs into your budget, especially when it comes to looking at older cars.
Do you need finance
Sometimes you just don’t have the funds to buy your ideal used car up front, and that’s okay. In situations like this you will need to take out a loan.
There are two options for getting finance. The first is to go out and find a loan yourself (preferably a pre-approved one). But be aware that it can be tricky to get a loan for used cars. The other option is to let someone else do the work and get finance through a dealer when you buy a used car from them, as this is a service that many dealers provide.
Choose the right car for you
Before you start shopping for your used car, you need to work out what you are looking for. The starting point is to think about your lifestyle and what you will be using the car for, and think of all features that you need in that car. Then you narrow down the list of makes and models that have all the features you need but still fit into your budget.
Be prepared to be a bit flexible with the features you need (or be prepared to increase your budget) because when buying a used car, factors such as the age of the car and it’s mileage and condition have to be taken into account.
If you are truly stuck, try contacting a dealer like Perth City Skoda. They have the experience dealing with a great range of different used cars and may be able to help you make a choice or at least give you some options to begin with.
Who should you buy from? Dealer vs. Private
Now you worked out what you’re looking for, it’s time to start the actual search. And the options here are to buy from a dealer and/or a private seller. There are pros and cons to buying from each, like the fact that it is true that buying from a dealer will be more expensive, but they also offer services that private sellers don’t, and buying from a private seller also comes with potentially greater risk.
What to do when you’ve found a car
Check the paperwork and history
Try to get as much detailed history about the car as possible, including ownership history, any damage or accidents, and service history. Conducting a Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) check will make sure that there are no nasty surprises attached to the vehicle, such as money owing, car being stolen or written off. The service history of the car will tell you whether servicing and maintenance has been done properly.
Check that they have all the paperwork and details like the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the car and license papers match up.
Inspecting the car
Do a visual inspection of the inside and outside of the car, and under the hood. Look out for any defects, rust, signs of repairs to damage, or excessive wear and tear. Check all the windows and electronic functions to make sure they are working as they should.
Dealers will always do their own inspection on any used car that they put up for sale.
If you don’t know much about cars or are not confident, bring along a friend that can help. You can also ask the seller if you can get it independently checked out by a trusted mechanic or place that offers pre-purchase inspections.
You must do a test drive
Never buy a used car without taking it out for a test drive. See if there’s enough power and how it handles as you weave through traffic, and that gear changes are smooth and not clunky. It’s also a good time to check out systems like the radio, air conditioning/heating. Test driving is the best and only way to see if you like the look and feel of driving the car as much as seeing if there’s anything strange or mechanically wrong.
Always negotiate on price
If you’re happy with everything and ready to buy, the last thing to do before signing on the dotted line is to agree on the price. There’s always room for negotiation, especially when buying a used car (the seller would even expect it). Use any problems that were found during the inspection to drive down the offer, and research the market value beforehand to make sure you’re not ripped off.
If you’re in the market for a used car in Perth, Perth City Skoda always has a wide range of used vehicles of all shapes and sizes (and not just Skoda’s), so check them out online or give them a call to see how they can help.