Buying a used car, step by step. Here’s how!


Buying any car is a nerve-racking experience. But there’s something about buying a used car that suddenly gets the heart pumping in a way that only happens when you’re saying goodbye to a large amount of money for something you can’t be 100% sure actually works. Alright, so buying a used car is scary. But what’s the best way of going about it, and what things should be on your mind as you move forward with a potential sale?

 Look for a used car that meets your needs

Alright. You need a new car. Start by having a good look at what you’re hoping it will do for you. Is that just getting you down the freeway and back at record speed? Or are you hoping to take it off-roading and deliver a family onto the beaches up at Kalbarri? That’s looking at things broadly. Now look at what kind of features will make your life easier, things like adaptive cruise control, towing capacity, and are you dead-set on a safe car? Answering these questions will guide you down the right path, 

 Found a used car? Check its history 

Being in the market for a used car is a bit like dating. You want to give each car a chance, take them for a test drive, and only when you’re sure you really like them will you make it exclusive and make the sale. But used cars can have long and often very colourful histories of their own. Many used cars have been used and abused by previous owners and, along with a swathe of cars that take up the lower price range on your Gumtree search resists, these cars are probably about to die. It’s therefore important to check the car’s service history. Thoroughly. 

 Get a qualified mechanic to check it out 

If that means driving it to a dealership and arranging an inspection, do it. If you’re talking with a dealership, they’ll often have an in-house mechanic that can give you a report. Before you move forward with your decision, it’s always a good idea to get a comprehensive overview of what is wrong (and right) with the car. 

 Take it for a test drive

No one can say they really like a car and want it before they’ve driven it. It’s important to not just drive it around the car park but to actually test it out in a few different environments. If you can, try to get some speed and do an emergency brake test, and see if you like its handling and steering response. Expect the seller to request your licence while you’re out, while some private sellers will insist they come with you. Never buy a car without doing this crucial step. 

 Gather reviews 

If you know someone who has owned a similar or (even better) the same model, ask them about their experience, and listen for any negative or peculiar feedback. Doing this online is also way easier, but just be aware there are many opinions out there. Keep it to qualified reviewers and dealerships of used Cars when looking for actionable advice. 

 Always weigh up your options and don’t be pressured 

When it comes down to buying a used car, the pressure can get real, as either the seller or sales representative smells a sale. But it’s important not to get overwhelmed or persuaded by anyone during this process. Don’t be afraid to take a day or two to sleep it over. Even when you think you’ve found the right car, don’t immediately stop “looking” until everything’s final. That’s especially true if you’re buying from a private individual. 

 Check the car’s registration 

Even if the owner says it’s registered, it’s a good idea to check anyway. If you suspect something isn’t quite right, it’s also a good idea to check online to make sure the car isn’t stolen property.

 Buy your car

Once you’re happy with the price, and the car itself, you’re ready to buy the car. If you’ve agreed to buy the car, but are having second thoughts, there’s no obligation to go through with a sale if you haven’t signed or paid anyone yet. 

Congratulations. Now you can start the paperwork  

Don’t worry, the paperwork isn’t much, and it’s all harmless. Your first job is sorting out insurance. It’s a good idea to do this straight away. Especially before you get too carried away trying out sport mode. Prices will vary and can depend on the car and the age of the driver, but make sure you get something that covers you and your car. The final step is sorting out the registration. The easiest way to do this is straight away, this way you avoid lateness fines and you get it out of the way.