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What To Look For In A Second-Hand Car | Mandurah Mazda
February 18, 2021 Mandurah Mazda Team
MY20 CX5 SIG Eternal Blue Car

What to Look For In a Second-Hand Car

Even if they are the cheaper option, buying a second-hand car can also be a huge deal for many of us. Stick around and we’ll go through the ins and outs of what to look for in a second-hand car.

Doing Some Research

Because there are so many used cars for sale, it definitely pays to take the time to do some proper research that will ultimately narrow things down to help you in getting the keys to the car you want. It’ll also make the actual search a much simpler affair (because you know what you’re looking for).

Consider your budget and what features are most important you want, based on your family situation and transport needs before looking at affordable options that suit.

Set Your Budget

One of the big advantages of buying a second car is that it won’t cost you anywhere near as much as a new car, but there will still be plenty of used cars that will be well outside your budget.

Consider how much you are willing to spend and also whether it will be necessary to take out a loan. Having a set budget will help you to narrow down your used car search quickly by discarding anything you can’t afford right off your list.

Assess Your Needs

This may seem obvious, but what do you actually want from a car? Think about the requirements for your lifestyle and what features you absolutely must have. Some practical things to consider include:

  • How many passengers do you need to carry?
  • How many child car seats do you need to fit?
  • Do you need something that can go off-road on the weekend? 4WD or AWD?
  • Is there a particular brand of car that you’ve always wanted to drive? (eg. Mazda)
  • How much boot or cargo space do you need?
  • Manual or automatic transmission?
  • Will you be doing any towing?
  • Any additional features you want such as smartphone connection? Infotainment touchscreen?
  • Which safety features are a must-have? (eg. front/reversing cameras, parking sensors, active safety systems like automated emergency brake assist).

Safety is one of the main concerns when buying a car, especially for families. One number you may have heard of is the Australasian New Car Assessment Program or ANCAP safety rating for a car, where cars are tested in four key areas and given a rating of 0 to 5 stars to indicate the level of safety of a vehicle. So a quick and easy way to find out how safe you will be in a potential car is to look up its ANCAP safety rating.

Pick Your Winners And Start Searching

Once you have a budget made and assessed your needs from the car, you can cross-reference the two to compile a list of second-hand cars that have all the features you require while also fitting into your budget.

Depending on your budget, you might be able to eliminate quite a few used cars from your list. Or you might find that you have the money to buy just about anything on the list. Hit up the local newspapers and go online to research and get an idea of how much you can expect to pay for each car.

Either way, you should end up with a narrowed list of running candidates. And it’s time to begin the search!

When buying second-hand cars, two main options are buying either from a private seller or a licensed dealer. Buying from a dealer is usually more expensive. But you also get advantages such as a mandatory statutory warranty (so you’re protected from buying a complete lemon), a guarantee there’s no money owing on the car, and you might be able to trade in your old car for a further reduction of the purchase price.

Another advantage with dealers, such as Mandurah Mazda, is that they also have a wide range of used cars for sale. This includes cars of different makes and models in addition to a range of pre-loved Mazda’s (such as the ever-popular Mazda CX-5 and Mazda CX-30 SUVs), all in the one same location.

When Meeting With A Seller

While it would be ideal if we could simply trust the seller that “She’s all good mate”, no matter who or where you buy from, you should always do your own inspection. Go through and visually inspect the interior and exterior of the car, making sure there are no visible signs of damage or major wear if it’s an older car, and that all the equipment and electronics work as expected.

It’s also a good idea to get the car independently looked at before you sign, by getting a pre-purchase inspection done by a trusted mechanic. This is especially if you don’t know much about cars yourself.

And never forget the test drive. Get a feel for the comfort of sitting in your potential new ride, and notice how it handles while you’re on the road. Take note of any strange noises and whether the gear changes are smooth. Check the tyres to make sure they are still new enough with decent tread remaining.

Other must-do’s include doing a Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR) check as a precaution to see if the car has been previously written off, stolen or has money still owing on it (but as mentioned earlier, if buying from a dealer they have to make sure there is no money owing on it, regardless of whether or not you do a PPSR check). Check that the VIN on the plates of the car (usually in the engine bay) matches the license papers, and ask for the car’s service history to see if it has been properly maintained.

If everything checks out, all there is left to do is to negotiate with the seller until you come to an acceptable price. The market value research you did earlier will come in handy here to make sure you aren’t ripped off. Some simple ways to reduce the price include offering the dealer cash for the purchase, and there’s also the possible option of a trade-in.

The Effort Is Worth It

While it may seem a lengthy process buying a second-hand car, if you do the research and keep in mind the points outlined, the effort will be worth it. After all, it’s not every day we go out and buy a car, so we might as well buy the one we will be satisfied or even thrilled with.

If you’re looking for a Used Car, or think that investing in a new one will be more appropriate for you, take a look at the range of vehicles we have on offer at Mandurah Mazda. Better yet, book one in for a test drive and get behind the wheel of your future car today.

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