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How to choose a used car

How to choose a used car

Statistics show that people spend more time buying a used car than they do buying a house. It sounds crazy. But when you consider the number of cars available at any time, and with so many makes and models within a certain price range on offer, no wonder it’s easy to get confused and procrastinate over which car to buy.

That’s where why it pays to do your homework.

You don't have to be a mechanic and know exactly how every vehicle should perform, but there are a few steps you can take before buying a car that will help to avoid unnecessary stress or financial heartache.

Step 1: What type of car do you want to buy?

Sedan, hatch, wagon, 4WD, cross over, SUV, or commercial vehicle.

Faced with endless choices it helps to consider what the vehicle will be used for Monday to Friday and on weekends. How many people do you carry regularly? Is it easy to park? Will it fit in your garage? Is it family-friendly (try getting babies and toddlers out of rear seats in a 2-door car)!

Step 2: Know your budget

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, what’s your budget? Does the car need to be fuel-efficient or easy to maintain?

How long do you intend to keep it? If you drive an average of 20,000kms a year and keep it for five years, it will have another 100,000kms on the clock when you on-sell it. This might influence the amount of kilometers the car already has when you purchase it.

Step 3: What's a fair price for a car?

A great tool to use to determine what is a fair price for the car/s you are researching is using an online tool like the Kelley Blue Book.

The Kelley Blue Book gives consumers access to fair-market value estimates based on the Australian car market with data taken daily from listings on websites including CarSales and AutoTrader to come up with the Kelley Blue Book Fair Market Estimate Range. In other words, they do the legwork for you - you just have to decide which car is right for you.

The Kelley Blue Book Price Advisor informs you if the price of the car being offered for sale is lower, higher, or on average to similar cars in the marketplace based on a number of factors, like age, mileage, transmission type and overall condition.

Step 4: Carefully inspect the car

How confident can you be buying a car totally online, considering you haven’t fully inspected it yourself? Well, ask yourself, could you expertly inspect a car? Apart from noting dents and scratches, worn interior and other imperfections, what would you look for?

Many people are in this position so they pay for an independent inspection from one of their state’s motoring bodies or pay for a mechanic to inspect the car (after it has been made roadworthy for sale).

CARS24 owns every car we sell. Before any car is offered for sale, it undergoes a 300-point inspection and around $1,000 is spent refurbishing the car to get as close to showroom condition as possible.

The inspection process is conducted by highly skilled technicians who check and test every aspect of the car to ensure that it meets our 300 check points. We use the latest technology to help us eliminate and diagnose all hard to see faults and issues.

Then every car gets test driven by us first to check every aspect of its performance, including the exterior, interior, engine, electrics, suspension, tyres, brakes and drivetrain.

We listen for any unusual noises, rattling and vibrations that could lead to any future issues. If there is anything like this, we fix it immediately otherwise we don’t sell it!

Every car goes through a deep clean before being handed over to its new owner. We make sure that everything from number plate to number plate is cleaned and looking as good as new.

Step 5: Take a serious test-drive

It used to be that taking a car for a test drive was what you did before settling on the car to buy. Thanks to advances in technology and production quality, the ride and drive of the average car is far superior nowadays. Combine this with our thorough inspection of every car to ensure its quality, you can be sure the car you buy online from CARS24 drives well.

After all, you get to drive the car for 7 days and can return if you’re not happy with it, which means you can really test drive it.

Step 6: Peace of mind

For $25, the government-run Personal Property Securities Register will deliver a full vehicle history report indicating if the car has been written off, stolen or has finance owing, as well as registration data and Takata airbag recall information.

We take care of this during our inspection process so that you don't have to.

The final step: Trust

You need to be able to trust the business selling you a car. That’s why we stand by our 7-day return policy and our thorough 300-point inspection and refurbishment standards.