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Buying a used car: 4 straightforward tips to picking a pearler

There are many reasons to buy a used vehicle. They’re affordable, which means you may be able to upgrade to a new model and they usually hold their value well. You’ll also benefit from cheap insurance and easier financing, making used vehicles a great choice for young people who often face higher premiums and tighter budgets.

Despite all the great reasons to buy a used vehicle, you still need to be careful and do your homework. To make your decision easier, follow these four, straightforward tips for picking a pearler.

1. Think about what you need

Have you got kids? Or pets? Do you need to tow a trailer or boat? Do you mainly drive in the city or in rural areas? How much space do you need? What’s really important to you in a car?

Answering the important questions is the first step to figuring out which used car is right for you. It could be helpful to make a ‘must-have’ and a ‘nice-to-have’ list of features that you’re looking for to help narrow your choices down.

tips to picking a used car

2. View and test the car

If you are able to view before you buy, take a good look inside and outside the vehicle to decide whether you like the look and feel of the car first, then perform a thorough inspection.

Look for rust throughout the car, check that the wipers, stereo, indicators, brake lights, safety belts and dashboard switches work and are in generally good condition. Turn the car on and check for any warning lights on the dash, and check that there isn’t excessive blue smoke coming from the exhaust.

Go for a drive and listen for tapping, knocking, rattling or grinding noises that sound out of place – these may indicate a fault. If the car is manual transmission, shift gears and listen for crunching sounds that may indicate the transmission is worn. Check the brakes by applying gentle pressure at around 30 kph – if the car turns to one side, the steering or brake pads may need to be checked or replaced.

Last of all, lift the hood and check for smoke, water, oil leaks, or obvious problems with the car’s systems.

3. Know the car’s history, value, condition and running costs

Buy from a reputable local dealer like Nicholson and we’ll let you know the used vehicle’s condition, history and running costs. Buy privately, however, and you’ll need to take care to engage a third party in protecting yourself against the risks of buying a used car.

This means checking:

  • Whether the seller is the registered owner and if there’s any money owing on the vehicle, including road user charges.
  • The mechanical condition of the car, paying special attention to the transmission, exhaust, brakes, shock absorbers and engine health.
  • That documentation is correct, including service receipts, current WOF, current rego and Consumer Information Notice.

buying used car tips

4. Understand the difference between buying privately and from a dealer

Buying a car privately can be risky. Private sellers don’t have to be registered, display a Consumer Information Notice on the vehicles they sell, or even comply with the Consumer Guarantees or Fair Trading Acts.

Reputable, established dealers have to answer to the full power of consumer protection law which staunchly protects buyers. At Nicholson Autos, we’ve been building trust and a reputation for quality in our local communities since the 1930s and helping our customers into the right vehicles is still our priority.

If you’re considering a used car, don’t let the risks put you off. Instead, buy the safest way – through a local dealer you can trust. Drop into your nearest Nicholson Automotive branch today to get started.

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