If you're in the market for a used car, there are some simple inspections and investigative work you can do yourself to ensure you don't end up with a lemon.
Show the car to a professional mechanic
who understands and can advise you.
Take along a professional mechanic or pay for a vehicle inspection. It usually saves you a lot of time and problems down the track. A qualified person will identify mechanical issues, previous accident, faulty repairs, rust, faulty electrical wiring, exhaust, engine noises, tyres wheel and brake faults, car interior linings, seat belts and window operation.
Verify vehicle ownership
Most states of Australia maintain a Register of Encumbered Vehicles. It is a statutory public register which assists the general public, the finance sector and the motor trade.
It is important to check the vehicle register for:
1. Registration Number if vehicle is registered
2. VIN or chassis number
3. Engine number
To ensure the accuracy of the vehicle you should obtain the details from the vehicle and compare them with the details on the registration papers. The current vehicle owner must provide you with a pink slip inspection report current for the month.
Make sure you test-drive
Take the car for a drive on a quiet road and listen for engine noise. Does it brake, steer and handle correctly? Is the suspension ok? Try a reverse park, hill start and a 3 point turn.
Brake hard once or twice on an isolated section of the road at around 40 kph. You will find the help of a mechanic invaluable for this purpose. They will hear and see things that you may miss.
Making a payment
Offering to pay the vendor cash is a great way to negotiate as the sight of a stack of dollar notes may be an incentive for a cash strapped seller. By the same token, carrying around a large sum of cash may be risky, we always recommend to make a payment using a bank cheque.
If you can't raise the money from your own reserves, shop around for the best finance deal online. Always get a receipt from the vendor and verification that the vehicle is unencumbered and is not provided as security for a current car loan.
If you are making a purchase of a vehicle for your business – it is a good idea to check with your accountant as to the most tax effective way to structure the purchase. They may advise you that a chattel mortgage is more advantageous, depending on your circumstances.
Change car ownership
Once you have reached an agreement with the car seller and have paid them the purchase price remember that the vehicle registration must be transferred to the new owner.
Make sure the seller gives you the pink slip and completes the disposal
notice, then take both these documents to the Road Traffic Authority and pay
for the transfer. Instructions on how to do this are on the back of the