People buy used cars without checking

Are you considering buying a used car? A car purchase is usually one of the biggest you make but it is surprising how few people check the vehicle fully before they buy it. In fact, the most common nasty surprise Australians get is someone owes money on the vehicle – and unfortunately that’s now you.

History checks

The online car bureau CarHistory says, of about 154,000 history checks run in 2015:

  • 22% had a negative report
  • 13% had an encumbrance – money owing
  • 9% had previously been written off
  • 4% had more than one negative in their history.

It also identified the worst regions for buying a dodgy used car, including Melbourne’s west and northwest, Brisbane’s south and northwest Tasmania. NSW was not top of the list but is not immune to it either.

Hearts rule

A more recent study found less than half of 20 million Brits who bought a used car in 2016 checked it properly before paying up. As someone ruefully said: “they let their hearts rule their heads”.

Most of us seem to be very willing to trust the seller. Or perhaps it just takes too much effort to check the vehicle properly.

What is a proper check?

Before you buy a used vehicle next time, be sure to make the effort:

  • Visit the government Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) to see if the vehicle is still security for someone else’s loan
  • Check the VIN (vehicle identification number), engine number and registration number on the vehicle yourself to check they match those listed on the registration papers and, if not, go to the police
  • Make sure it has no crash damage and is not a repaired write-off as in NSW you cannot register a write-off.

Remember a green slip travels with the vehicle if it is registered. You will need to buy a green slip when it next comes up for registration. Then find which of the six CTP insurers offers the cheapest prices for your vehicle and details using the greenslip calculator.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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