A new or used car is a major outlay , usually second to buying a house for most people. So you want to make sure that your deal is fair and legal. You need a car that is going to suit your everyday needs while staying within your budget. 

Buying a used car is a great way to save money and take advantage of depreciation but there are inherently more risks involved when a car has belonged to multiple owners. Outlined below are five warning signs that you should look out for before purchasing your next vehicle.

01. Incomplete paperwork:

Specific paperwork is required to make your vehicle transaction legal. It serves as an agreement between buyer and seller. The correct paperwork ensures that the vehicle you are purchasing is legally registered and in fair condition. This includes a comprehensive service and repair history report. 

Whether purchasing from a Dealer or in the private market you should expect to inspect from the seller,  the service books and history of the car. A logbook that contains a full service history with accompanying records and shows the most recent services is like gold when seeking to purchase a car.

Vehicle registration papers identifying the current registered owner or previous owner if purchasing from a dealer to ensure there is correct legal title.  

Obtaining a PPSR Report will also identify if the car has been previously stolen, is an Economic Repairable Write-off or still has finance owing on it from the previous owners.

Missing paperwork indicates that there may be some issues with the vehicle’s function or road history, so if the paperwork is incomplete, reconsider the deal.

02. Dealer is unlicensed:

If you choose to purchase your next vehicle through a dealer, research the company and ask for proof of licence. Licence credentials ensure that you are purchasing from a dealer that is legally approved to sell you a vehicle. If a dealer is unable to provide you with proof of their licence, do not purchase a vehicle from them.

03. Mismatched vehicle paint and components:

Inconsistent paint on the exterior of a vehicle suggests that the car has suffered significant body damage. New paint may be used to hide flaws throughout the vehicle, so thoroughly inspect the car’s paint. Panels, doors, and mirrors should also be made from the same materials.

Some private sellers may not disclose that the car may have an Economic Repairable Write-off (ERW). More care needs to be taken to ensure that these cars have been repaired well and do not have any residual problems as not all repairs though legal can be of the same standard. 

Paying for a PPSR Report through Vicroads or comparable State Road Authority can identify whether the vehicle is an EWR. Tell tale signs that may raise suspicions in  Private seller’s Carsales ads are cars with unusually low kms for their age in combination of having been re-registered. Owners selling within a short period of ownership as soon as repairs are completed and advertised price being well below other comparable model cars of similar age and specification.”Caveat Emptor”, let the buyer be aware. 

04. Unusual sounds:

Before agreeing to buy a vehicle, ask to take it for a test drive. Make sure the car runs smoothly, and listen out for any sounds. Grinding and rattling sounds may indicate a serious mechanical problem. 

If you are not familiar or do not have the expertise or knowledge to assess the car during a test drive you can always invite an experienced friend with mechanical knowledge to accompany you . Alternatively, you can engage a professional 3rd party service provider like RACV, VACC, REPCO,  Redbook etc… to carry out a Pre- Purchase Inspection (PPI) on a car that you seriously consider buying.

An extensive PPI Report after a test drive will highlight the condition of the vehicle’s mechanics, engine, body and interior and whether there appears to be any indications of accident history. The Report usually comes with comments and rates the car.. This can provide independent confidence in assessing the car and is like an insurance policy when engaged in the buying process for the buyer against purchasing a potential lemon of a car.

05. Masked smells inside the vehicle: 

If a car’s interior is overly perfumed, the seller may be trying to hide mould or mildew smells. The vehicle may not be watertight if there are mould smells inside the car. 

There are 3 common places where mildew smell can originate from. Behind the”Dashboard” where water can build up as part of running your air-conditioning. Secondly, “Body Leaking”  in cracks from weatherstrips around doors and windows. Thirdly, from Leaking Drainage” such as those found in A/C and sunroofs. 

Alternatively, the previous owner may have been a smoker and caused odour damage to the interior upholstery. 

Rectifying smells and damaged wet mouldy carpets and interiors is an expensive exercise.

In general, an excessive amount of air freshener in a used vehicle may be reason to walk away from the deal. 

My Next Car Buying Advocacy

Buying your next car, especially a used vehicle can be a tricky process. You need the peace of mind that you are buying a vehicle from someone you can trust. The team at My Next Car Buying Advocacy will help you navigate the buying process so you can be sure that you are buying a reliable vehicle from a legitimate seller. 

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