What to Look for When Buying a Used Car?
One key reason for a buyer to opt for a used car rather than a brand new one is budget. We’d all love to buy only brand new cars, but for many of us we can’t always afford to, or the car we want is outside of our price range if purchased new.
The result is that many of us resort to opening the classifieds to see if we can snag a bargain. The thought of picking up a bargain is exciting, but the second-hand car market has always been fraught with dodgy car dealers and private sales that only end up bringing us pain and frustration. So if you’re asking yourself ‘should my first car be new or used‘, then it’s a good idea to keep a few things in mind before you start looking.
If your budget will only allow for a used car, it will still play a huge role in what you set out to buy in this market. Working out your budget will help to determine they types and age of car you should be looking at. If you have a tighter budget then it may be wise to look for something small. That way you can increase the chances of purchasing something safe and reliable, rather than buying a larger car that is the same price because it has a laundry list of mechanical problems.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are ongoing costs associated with car ownership. Firstly, you will need to pay stamp duty on any second hand purchase. Then there are the running costs. Older cars tend to go through more fuel, which could be an issue considering today’s petrol prices. Additionally, used cars sometimes appear cheap until you find out that they only have a short time left on their registration. So you might think you’ve got a bargain, only to end up having to fork out another chunk of cash to renew its registration. This is why it’s always a good idea to query the car’s registration status with the seller before you decide to buy it, and factor it into your budget.
A used car’s mileage is one of the best indicators of its mechanical condition. So how many kilometres is good for a used car? An average 10 year-old car in Australia will have done around 160,000 km. A vehicle that has done well in excess of that might suggest that it’s due for some costly milestone servicing. This is not to dismiss any car with a few extra km’s on the clock because a well looked after car with high mileage can turn out to be a good deal. But you might need to do your research before you’re comfortable that it’s in good condition.
Check the car’s history
It’s essential that all cars undergo regular servicing. Part of this includes the mechanic logging the work that has been done so that certain engine parts can be replaced before they reach their expected mileage limit. This information should be available to all prospective buyers so that they can make a fair assessment of the car’s condition and any potential problems. When buying from a Mazda used car dealership, this information is made readily available. If the car doesn’t have a documented service history then it’s best to err on the side of caution and assume that it hasn’t been well looked after, unless the seller can prove otherwise.
Take a checklist with you
There is so much to look at when inspecting a car that it can be easy to forget some things. If you take a list with you, you can be fairly confident you’ve covered everything that needs to be checked before buying.
This checklist may include:
- Engine oil – check the dipstick and make sure the oil is honey-coloured (or black if it is a diesel car)
- Make sure the radiator coolant is topped up and brightly coloured
- Make sure the engine runs smoothly, both when driving and idling
- Tyre condition – tread depth should be above minimum wear indicators
- Check that headlights, indicators and brake lights are all functioning
- Check all the interior and exterior features like GPS, climate control, bluetooth connectivity, automatic boot lift etc.
- Make sure the seatbelts are in good condition
- If a manual vehicle, check if gear changes run smoothly, and test the clutch biting point
- Make sure the VIN number matches what is on the paperwork
- Confirm the vehicle’s build and compliance dates
- Check the car’s jack and tool kit is in place
Make sure to look for these potential issues:
- A white substance around the oil filler cap can indicate engine problems
- Check for engine fluid leaks around the engine bay and under the car
- Is there smoke coming from the exhaust?
- Check for dents, scratches, tears and any other blemishes in both the interior and exterior
- Check for any illuminated warning lights
When buying a used car from any Perth Mazda dealership, you have the piece of mind that these potential issues have already been taken care of, to help you focus on the things that are important to you. Things like whether the car suits your needs, and if it will still be appropriate for you several years down the track. Choosing to shop for a used car at a dealership simply takes some of the stresses and risks away that are normally associated with private sales.
You can browse the range of used cars available at Mandurah Mazda online via our website. Or head down to the Mandurah Mazda dealership for expert advice, and to check out the range in person. Let us help you snag the car of your dreams!