There are always risks when buying a second-hand car, as you can never be sure about how the vehicle has been treated and maintained, while there are a few things you can do to minimise the chances of paying too much for a car. Here are a few tips to help you make an informed decision.

  • Check the Dealer Value – You can buy a trade dealer’s book that has every vehicle make and model, which helps you to value a car. The year of manufacture, the overall condition and the mileage are all aspects that determine the value of any selected car.
  • Buy from a Dealer – This is perhaps the best advice of all; if you buy a car from a private seller, the vehicle is ‘sold as seen’, which means the previous owner is not liable for anything that might go wrong. The car dealers in Canberra, on the other hand, issue a fair warranty on all used vehicles they sell, which does offer you some protection.
  • Set a Budget – It is very easy to end up spending more than you can afford, so it is a good idea to set a budget at the very outset. If you are going to finance the purchase, calculate an affordable monthly repayment and use that as your guide.
  • Look for a Full Service History – Known in the trade as ‘FSH’, a full service history is evidence that the car has been serviced regularly, in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Any vehicle with an incomplete service record is not ideal, so do make sure that you check the service history (in the rear section of the owner’s manual).
  • Test Drive – It is not advisable to buy any car without test driving it first, as a test drive allows you to check that the brakes, steering and general feel of the car is as it should be.
  • The Engine – The heart of the vehicle, the engine is obviously a critical component of any vehicle and should you be unsure about this, hire a mechanic to give the car a thorough inspection, which would include listening to the engine.
  • Suitability – It is easy to let the heart rule the head when looking to buy a car, so you do need to be realistic and practical. It might be nice to drive that V8, but can you afford to run the car? If you are a family man, does the car give you everything you need? Is there any likelihood that you will be towing a trailer in the future? Questions like these need to be addressed.

If you follow the above advice, you should end up with a good deal and should there be any issues, buying from a dealer gives you a warranty.

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Nia Nasir

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