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Where to buy a used car

There are several places to buy used cars, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

How you choose between them will depend on your priorities. If you're concerned about price, then privately may be the way to go. But if it's a guarantee of title you're after, a licensed dealership may be the better option.

Advantages Disadvantages
Provide a wide range of used vehicles Generally, you pay more at a dealer but may have a statutory used car warranty
Easier to dispose of your vehicle  A trade-in may not get the best price for your old car 
Licence dealers guarantee title of the vehicle
Warranty in NSW on cars under 10 years or 160,000km & below the Luxury Tax Threshold in NSW

To get the best quality used car, go to a dealership that specialises in the makes you like. Often, loyal car owners will have their car serviced where they bought it, and then trade it in there. Plus, new car dealers usually sell good quality cars and dispose very old or poor quality cars through auctions.

 Advantages  Disadvantages
Might be cheaper No warranty
You may get to meet the previous owner and can obtain the vehicle's history Any faults found are not covered by Fair Trading*

As the title of the vehicle is not guaranteed, any faults found are not covered by Fair Trading. You'll probably get a cheaper car, but you're not guaranteed a clear title, and you've got no legal backup.

* To reduce your risk you should check with RMS or  REVS.

Important: Ask the person selling the vehicle to provide you with a roadworthiness certificate (called an e-Safety Check), previously known as a 'Pink Slip', that's less than 42 days old.

Further check registration certificate to identify the seller is the owner of the vehicle by cross referencing the details on their driver's license.

Advantages Disadvantages
May be cheaper May not have any warranty
Guarantee of title Can't test drive
Various makes & models in one location Usually you're required to pay a deposit of around 10% or $500
May carry out an independent vehicle inspection the day prior to the auction May not be able to have the car inspected the day of the auction
  Can get carried away and pay a higher price during the bidding process

You may save money at an auction, but you must do your homework. Set a price and don't go over that. Ex-government and fleet cars are often good value and have usually been regularly maintained but they might not have been driven as carefully as privately owned cars. Check online or in the newspapers for auction times and dates.

Advantages Disadvantages
Can view many vehicles on-line at any time, before driving out there to inspect them You may not be able to see/ test drive cars
There's plenty of research material available May not have warranty
You won't be pressured into buying May not have security of title
You won't be pressured into buying
  You don't have to negotiate face-to-face

Buying a car online carries similar risks as when buying privately.

Advertising traps: False advertising is illegal therefore you need to be wary of vague or exaggerated claims. Do your research before you enter a car yard - know the type of car you want and how much you can afford. Advertisements must state if statutory charges are extra, and the general term 'plus on-road costs' is prohibited in NSW.

Download the FREE NRMA Used Car Buyers' Checklist (PDF 2MB/9 pages). It contains general information (including ideas and opinions) and is to be used as a guide only.

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