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The Key Considerations for Buying a Used Car

The hunt for a used car can be a complex and confusing one.

There are so many different factors and features to weigh up that it can feel like paralysis by analysis. Outside of how the car looks and your allegiance to a brand, there are a couple of key considerations you should take into account when comparing used cars.

Kilometres per Year

The odometer records the total amount of kilometres (kms) the vehicle has travelled. By dividing the total number of odometer reading by the age of the car, you can roughly estimate how many kms per year the car has been driven.

The average Australian drives their car around 15,000 kms per year. Based on the age of the car, you can identify whether this car is getting more or less than the Aussie average. Whilst not a deal-breaker, lower usage may indicate a less worn vehicle, meaning there may not be as much wear and tear, however, don’t take this measurement as gospel.

Residual New Car Warranty

When someone purchases a new car, it will come with a manufacturer’s warranty. This warranty may vary in length, both in years and kms of coverage. This warranty covers manufacture faults with the vehicle, so if there’s something wrong it can be taken to an authorised repairer and fixed under warranty.

New car warranties are transferrable, meaning a vehicle that is only a couple of years old may still be covered. Whilst there will be some stipulations to ensure the warranty still applies, this could mean a bit more peace of mind when purchasing a used car.

Cost of Insurance

There are several elements which may impact the cost of insurance of a vehicle, whether you’re looking at Compulsory Third Party, through to Comprehensive. These can include factors such as your, age, suburb and driver history.

The nature of your vehicle may also impact insurance premiums and cover options. Security and safety features may reduce payments, whilst performance modifications may increase the cost of insurance.

Running Costs

You will want to take into account, not just the price of buying the car, but also the running costs. Typically, vehicles with fewer cylinders and engine capacity (usually measured in litres), will be more fuel economical, however, the age of the vehicle will also impact this.

Maintenance may also be a consideration. Depending on the popularity of the car and a few other factors, access to parts and repair costs of car may vary wildly. Your mechanic may be able to provide some guidance as to which makes and models may be less expensive to maintain.

Previous Owner(s)

In some used car advertisements the seller may specify how many previous owners the vehicle has had. If the car has changed hands multiple times, or the current seller has only had the vehicle for a short period of time that may not be the best sign.

Don’t be afraid to ask the seller how they’ve used their car – do they drive it in their daily commute? Does it see much highway usage? Have they taught their kids how to drive with it? Log books are the service history of the car, almost like a historic doctor’s report. If the driver has kept the log book up to date, you will get a good indication of how well maintained the vehicle has been.

Used cars, particularly when bought in a private sale, can present as a risk. The onus is on you, to do your research to ensure you’re not ripped off. Where possible, ask your mechanic to give the car a once over. Your mechanic may charge you a bit for the luxury, but this can be a drop in the ocean compared to buying a ‘lemon’. If have the option to arrange a roadworthy Certificate to be carried out to ensure the car is safe and in good workable order.

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