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A survey conducted for an insurance group has recently revealed that Australians may be making costly mistakes when purchasing used vehicles.

According to the research, 97 percent of people have felt confused when buying a second-hand car. Many also struggled with judging the roadworthiness of the vehicle and missed critical assessments steps prior to completing the purchase including:

  • Inspecting both the interior and the exterior of the car
  • Taking the car for a test drive
  • Checking the paperwork of the car

Furthermore, the study has revealed that a third of buyers believe they’ve bought a ‘lemon’– a vehicle that turns out to have several manufacturing defects affecting its safety, value, or utility.

What to look for when buying a used car

The demand for used cars has skyrocketed in the past couple of years due to supply constraints caused by the pandemic. If you’re in the market for second-hand vehicles, it’s important to consider these factors before buying a car.

Be sure to perform physical checks. Assess safety features like seat belts’ locking mechanisms.

Inspect the panels for accident damage, rust, loose internal attachments (mirrors, visors, and headrests), coolant, oil or power-steering fluid leaks, and the wear and tear on tyres. Make sure that the doors latch completely, and the windows roll up and down smoothly.

You can also refer to the 2021 Used Car Safety Ratings to make sure that you’re purchasing a road-worthy vehicle model.

Check for a more sustainable option. Some older vehicles may not be as fuel efficient and may have a greater environmental impact when used on the road. Refer to Australian Government’s Green Vehicle Guide allows you to compare the environmental performance of cars before making a final decision.

Check the paperwork of the vehicle. Refer to its Vehicle Identification Number to track recalls, registrations, warranties, and thefts. Don’t forget to review the car’s service history and complete a PPSR check for finance owing on the car.

Don’t forget to take the car for a test drive to expose any issues like ignition, external lights, and the smoothness of the clutch and brake. This can also help you determine if features like air conditioning, stereo, phone pairing, cruise control, reverse camera, or automated parking are working properly.