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Looking to buy a Second Hand Car?

What to look for & where to look?

Tips when looking to buy a Used Car

  1. Decide on your budget
  2. Decide on make & model.
  3. Consider total running costs of the car. Depreciation is the most expensive part of the car. Then consider servicing costs. You can check out service intervals at This is a great service where it will show you approximate servicing costs for each make of car & when due. Did you know that some services are much more than others? This lists all the servicing intervals & the expected costs involved at each point. eg Hyundai Getz is a 1yr or 15000km service compared to Toyota Yaris which is every 6 months or 10000km! Big difference in costs as you will need to do 3 services on the Yaris for every 2 on the Getz.
  4. Look at the fuel economy. You can compare it with other cars at the Green Vehicle Guide
  5. Check it over with a friend as they may spot something you didn't
  6. Check all the paperwork with the car. The more it has especially service records or logbooks the better as this will give you a guide as to how well looked after the car has been.
  7. It's generally safer to buy from a dealer than a private sale.
  8. Make sure you get the VIN, engine number & number plate in case you want to do a REVS check.
  9. Get a Revs check as listed below & consider vehicle history check which are often separate. Check to see what they cover but often will see if they have been written off by an insurance company, been stolen have finance owing on them etc but always check exactly what report you're paying for.
  10. Make sure the car has a safety certificate or roadworthy certificate.
  11. If car comes with warranty check what servicing needs to be done or should have been done to keep active. If you don't service exactly as manufacturer recommends then the warranty you were expecting may not be valid. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
  12. Check ownership documents are correct, in the owners name .
  13. Remember additional costs after buying the vehicle. There are costs of transferring ownership into the price. Often you may need to pay stamp duty or transfer costs to the State transport agency! This can be around 3% of the cost of the car but this depends on which state you live in & often the size of the car. You can have Registration costs if they are due soon. And don't forget insurance costs too - 3rd party vs comprehensive.
  14. Consider getting the mechanics & bodywork of the car professionally checked by a mechanic or vehicle inspection unit such as from the NRMA or RACQ before buying as you may find a surprise & you may even be able to regotiate the price based on the report.
  15. Always get a full receipt before parting with any money, including a deposit.

CarGuide produces a top 10 tips for buying a used car on their website



Buying a new Car


  • Buy near the start of the cars lifecycle. Models often get refereshed every 3 years so if you buy just before it may get renewed you could lose alot of money when the new version comes out.
  • Best time to buy is at end of financial year but can get some good deals at end of calendar year as they try to clear year's stock. Also buy at end of month as they try to clear stock for end of the month too.
  • Consider avoiding popular fleet models as there are lots around. They will be reliable though as fleets won't buy cars that aren't reliable.
  • Maximum depreciation is in first 3 years.


Selling a car


  • Sell your car where it seems to be selling well as you will get the best price from there.
  • Keep your service books for servicing etc as it makes the car more valuable.
  • Consider getting it professionally valeted as it may increase its value to a potential buyer




Places to find a used or second hand car:

Check the value of a car

Check out
Redbook offers a free servive online or you can use which charges for their report.

You have to pay for this service but it tells you whether the car you are looking for is at a reasonable price

Checklists for what to look for in a car:

Nrma Carwise

NSW Fair Trading
produce checklists for buying a second hand car from a private seller or buying from an auction

Check the seller's driving licence & compare the details with the registration papers to make sure they're the owner.
Check the VIN (vehicle identification number), engine number & number plate match up.


It is worth checking the car to make sure there is no debt owning on the vehicle. You can do this with REVS online.

You need the registration number, VIN or chassis number & engine number.
You can find out free of charge but to be legally covered you need to buy a certificate that costs $15.

133 220
There is also a vehicle history check from NSW RTA.


QLD Vehicle Check
There are a range of 4 different levels with different prices on the vehicle checks they provide so check to see what you are paying for.
131 304
Queensland Government produces a guide on buying & selling a used car

South Australia
SA Vehicle Check
131 084

1300 851 225

131 171

Western Australia
1300 304 024


Take out insurance before you drive the car away.

Transfer the Registration

Fill in the registration transfer form for your state.

You'll have to pay a transfer fee & stamp duty fee. This varies from state to state.

Buying at auction
Remember there is no warranty buying this way, there may be no test drive or inspections possible. Always check to see what the situation is about previous debts & whether they could have been written off. Learn the conditions of the auction including deposit etc.

Tyre Depth
Tyres should be at least 1.6mm in depth. Most new tyres are 8mm in depth when manufactured.
See more about tyre depth & how to tell what year the tyre was manufactured check here
Tyres can last for up to 45k

RACV Drive your Dollars

Best Value for running costs:
Supermini car: Hyundai Getz
Small Car: Nissan Tilda 5Dr
Medium Car: Mazda 6
Large Car: Holden Commodore International
Compact SUV: Hyundai ix35
Top 10 Cheapest cars to operate in Australia for each car class check out the results from NRMA
Here is a list of Australia's Best Cars check them out here

Sales or Stamp Duty

In some states you need to pay Sales duty depending on the car you buy.
In Queensland this can work out to be 2-4% of the car's value depending on the type of car.
Check it out for Queensland here

To compare the costs of stamp duty around Australia check this out

Car Insurance

Car insurance can vary even on 3rd party insurance so always compare even compulsary third party costs. Some companies such as Allianz, RACQ & Suncorp include Driver Protection when the driver is at fault but even then the level of payout for insurance can be variable (eg Quadraplegia $1million Allianz, RACQ $250,000)
It is always wise to compare fully comprehensive car insurance policies.

Compare prices here


To register a car in Queensland
You will need to pay:
Stamp Duty
Registration fee
Compulsary Third Party Insurance (which only covers another person being injured (not property need extra 3rd party property insurance for that)
Plate fees if your are transferring from interstate.