Buying a second-hand car is a risk, there’s no question about that – even if it’s a prestige car.
We’ve put together this handy guide to help you minimise that risk! We want your new pre-owned car to give you sheer driving pleasure, not a long list of issues to fix.
First things first – set your budget
Set yourself a budget based on what you can afford and then search for cars at the cheapest possible price with the lowest possible kilometres. Don’t forget to include ongoing costs in your budget such as fuel, maintenance, registration, insurance and interest on finance.
Check the history
The fewer the owners the better. You want a great service history with the original service book.
Look out for regular servicing because, as we know, a lot of modern cars have long service intervals, which in our opinion is not good for your car! So if you can get a car which has been serviced more often, or at least had regular in-between oil changes, that’s a great thing.
Also, it’s worth checking whether the car is stolen, has any outstanding loans or has a previous insurance write-off. You can check that on the VicRoads website here.
Ask the hard questions
Don’t be afraid to ask the seller for more details. Here are a few questions to start with:
- How long have they owned the car?
- Why are they selling it?
- Has the vehicle ever been damaged?
- Are there issues not immediately apparent in the photos?
- Do they have the original service book?
- Will it pass a roadworthy test?
Take it for a spin
- Check for steering issues – turn the steering wheel from one lock to the other and look out for difficult turning, vibrations, looseness, excessive play and to see if the car travels in a straight line.
- Turn the radio off and listen for any irregular noises or rough idle from the engine.
- Drive to a steep hill and park the car to test the handbrake.
- Drive on different road surfaces and at different speeds(including on a highway if you can), and check for anysuspension noises over bumps.
- Check the transmission shifts up and down through the gears smoothly
- If the car is a manual check that the clutch doesn’t slip and actuates smoothly.
- Check the air-conditioning and heating – with Melbourne having four seasons in one day, you don’t want to be without either!
Know the value – get a Pre-Purchase Inspection
Don’t inherit someone else’s problem!
If you’re not an expert, it’s worth getting a pre-purchase inspection from an experienced mechanic.
Our own famous 250-point, eight-page checklist is the most comprehensive vehicle inspection you’ll find anywhere. What’s more, it’s specific to BMWs, Minis, Audis and VWs!
It covers absolutely everything on the car. No stone is left unturned. We’ve been doing it for 30 years and it’s somethingthat we do every day here at BM Tech.
We know the ins and outs of each model and can give you an idea of what issues might arise in the future, not just the ones that exist already.
For pre-purchase inspections, our 250 point check is a must.
There’s no harm in asking!
If you have a pre-purchase inspection report, use any faults to negotiate a lower price based on the cost of fixing these issues. If you don’t have the report, make a list of any faults you find during your test drive.
If there are no faults (that’s great!), you should still negotiate – best case scenario you pay less for a great car, and worst case, you pay the same as the asking price.
Get your paperwork in order
Obtain the original service history log book/paperwork and if the car is being sold with a roadworthy certificate, make sure you also have the original version (that is no more than 30 days old when the sale takes place) – don’t accept photocopies.
As the vehicle register maintained by VicRoads does not provide evidence of title, make sure you ask the seller for a receipt and keep this as proof of purchase and ownership for vehicle registration.
The receipt should be dated and include:
- your name and address
- the sellers name, address and signature, and
- the vehicle’s details such as Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), registration number, make and model.
Happy car hunting! We’re here to help you with the purchase of your next pride and joy.