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What makes a used car reliable?

There’s something inherently beautiful about a brand-new car. But that shiny factor may not be worth the extra expense, especially when you can get your hands on a perfectly reliable second-hand car for far less.

And while some people think used cars are a gamble, that’s not always true – you just have to learn how to spot the cars that will serve you well, and those that are likely to become maintenance headaches. Here’s what to look out for.

Take a history lesson

One way of avoiding unpleasant surprises is by looking for second-hand cars that have their service and repair histories available. This helps you stay on top of any issues previous owners have run into – and lets you know if there are any recurrent problems to watch out for. Plus, it’s good to know if the car’s been involved in any accidents, as they can lead to maintenance further down the line.

If you get a car without seeing its complete service history, you’re going in blind.

Do your research

It’s worth checking if the car you’ve got your eye on is still covered by factory warranty. This gives you a safety net for any unforeseen faults that can spring up in any car. Factory warranties vary between manufacturers, but chances are if a car is less than five years old, it’ll be covered. If it’s outside of its factory warranty, it pays to research the availability and affordability of parts for the model, so you know what to expect should the unexpected occur.

And don’t rush in. A lot of second-hand cars are just as good as new ones – but there are plenty of exceptions. Look for wear and tear, especially when you drive it. Check the brakes, the general handling – anything that may come back to bite you. If you can, get a mechanic to test the car and get their professional opinion.

Brand is a big factor

In the world of cars – especially used cars – brands speak volumes when it comes to reliability. And Japan, land of the rising sun, turns out to also be land of the reliable car. Most Japanese brands are renowned for their quality and longevity. And if you want something a little different, South Korea also boasts reputable car manufacturers.

Now, the best car will be different depending on your needs. For compact cars, the Mazda 3 has handling prowess and a slick look to boot. The Kia Cerato is also a strong contender. For large SUVs, you can’t look past something like the Nissan Pathfinder or Mazda CX-9. And if you’re after a car for a first-time driver – the Suzuki Swift or the Kia Rio are both all-round, intuitive options.

Regardless of which model you choose, make sure you check its ANCAP safety rating. Look for five-star ratings for the safest ride.

Talk to people

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth saying. If you’re mulling over a few different options, it never hurts to put the feelers out. You’ll be surprised how many of your friends or co-workers will have owned – or know someone who’s owned – many of the popular used car models. This way you can get a first or second-hand account of how these cars stand the test of time – which may help you make your final decision.

Know what kind of car you’re after? Check out Niccars’ range of used cars or visit a dealership near you. And if you have any questions, our team of experts are always happy to help.

 

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