Buy a peach, not a lemon

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE -

BUY­ING a used car can be fraught with trou­ble.

So cars­guide.com.au has come up with 10 tips to help you find the car of your dreams, not your night­mares. 1Set

your bud­get Work out how much you can af­ford and don’t for­get to in­clude regis­tra­tion, in­sur­ance and reg­u­lar main­te­nance and run­ning costs. You should shop around for quotes on a loan and in­sur­ance. 2Do

your re­search It’s im­por­tant to have a thor­ough look at what’s out there. To get an idea of a model’s cur­rent mar­ket price, search used car ads on­line or in the news­pa­per. Also check out our price guide.

Be wary if you find a used car priced much lower than the mar­ket sug­gests it should be. If some­thing seems too good to be true, it usu­ally is. 3Find

the right car Browse cars by body type, make or price to find out which make and model might suit.

Go win­dow shop­ping by make and model, age and lo­ca­tion, and read ex­pert Cars­guide re­views of the car you’re looking for.

Check the lat­est car news to see if a new model is com­ing which can re­duce the price of pre­vi­ous mod­els. 4Con­tact

the seller And when you do, don’t be afraid to ask lots of ques­tions. • How long have they had the car? • Why are they sell­ing it? • Has it ever been dam­aged? • What con­di­tion is it in? • Will it meet a RWC? • Does it have any ‘‘bad habits’’? 5Look

at the car If the seller is a pri­vate party rather than a dealer, go to their home ad­dress. Don’t ar­range to meet them some­where else.

Check that the home ad­dress is the same as the one on the regis­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate.

Take a print­out or copy of the seller’s ad­ver­tise­ment with you to check that de­tails like the odome­ter num­bers are ac­cu­rate. 6Check

the car’s his­tory No mat­ter how gen­uine the seller seems, check the his­tory of the car to make sure it’s not stolen, en­cum­bered by an out­stand­ing loan, or even a pre­vi­ous write-off. Get the car’s VIN and check against the data­base in the state in which it’s reg­is­tered. For a small fee, this sim­ple step could save you a lot of money and prob­lems. In Queens­land, go to: ser­vice.trans­port.qld.gov.au/ ve­hi­cle­in­for­ma­tioncheck/ 7Check

the car Make sure you have a thor­ough look over the car your­self, and best of all, have an in­de­pen­dent me­chanic check it out prop­erly on a hoist. It could save you thou­sands by re­veal­ing me­chan­i­cal prob­lems and pre­vi­ous dam­age. • Al­ways look at the car in full day­light, never in the dark or in rain that could con­ceal body marks, dents, rust and other de­fects. • Take a look at the tyres to make sure they’re in good con­di­tion and have plenty of tread. • In­side the car, make sure the seat­belts work cor­rectly, the steer­ing wheel and dash­board are bolted on cor­rectly, the front seats move prop­erly and all switches work. • Start the car with a cold en­gine, which will make it eas­ier to re­veal prob­lems like poor start­ing or too much smoke. 8Test

drive the car Make sure you: • Drive on as many dif­fer­ent road sur­faces as pos­si­ble. • Use all the gears, and check the gear change is slick and smooth. • En­sure the clutch pedal ‘‘bites’’ around the mid­dle of the pedal’s travel. 9Ne­go­ti­ate

the price The price is the price, but there’s of­ten lee­way for bar­gain­ing.

Make a list of any faults you found with the car, or any work that might need do­ing, and cal­cu­late how much this could add to the price.

From this po­si­tion, ne­go­ti­ate the price with the seller. 10 Pa­per­work and pay­ment Make sure all the pa­per­work is in or­der, and that you have orig­i­nal ver­sions (never pho­to­copies) of ev­ery­thing – regis­tra­tion pa­pers, ser­vice his­tory and log­book.

If you’re mak­ing a pay­ment or even just a de­posit, get a re­ceipt and make sure the seller’s full de­tails are on it.

Never give or send a seller money without see­ing the car, or without get­ting a re­ceipt with all the de­tails.

Call our Cus­tomer Ser­vice on 1800 026 705 (Mon-Fri 8.30am5.30pm) if you have sus­pi­cions.

CHOICE: If buy­ing from a dealer ex­pect to pay a lit­tle more than from a pri­vate party, but look for a war­ranty.

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