Australians who buy second hand cars risk buying someone elses problems, and most buyers in this $39 billion per year market are not very good at spotting those problems.
Online car finance company, Approval Buddy, commissioned a survey of over 1000 Australians who had bought second hand cars. Almost half (49%) said they had no idea what they were looking for when inspecting a car, and 7% admitted to pretending they knew more than they did, simply to avoid embarrassment. However, nearly 80% purchased a car in the belief it was good value for money.
On average, people spend more than five hours looking for the perfect car, but only a quarter (26%) had their car checked by a mechanic before purchase, with only 3% running an online history check.
Over half (55%) had to spend over $1,000 on repairs, and over a third (36%) spent between $1,000 and $2,000. About 10% spent over $3,000. Of those who experienced issues, over half (52%) noticed the issues within the first month of purchase, almost a quarter (23.5%) within the first week.
ApprovalBuddy gives five top tips for spotting a bad buy.
Use the light on your phone to look under the engine and sides for evidence of oil leaks or seals that have cracked. These can be a fire hazard, and can cause the engine to fail without warning.
Compare the colour tone of different panels. This is a sign the car body has been damaged, and the car has been poorly resprayed.
Listen for engine noise when you test drive. A knocking noise can indicate a worn camshaft or worn bearing or crankpin, resulting in a costly fix or a complete engine replace.
A whining noise indicates a failing transmission pump, very expensive to repair.
If the car shows a lot of wear and tear but has a low km reading, it could be that the odometer has been altered.
Also, open the boot and inspect all bolts and nuts. In an old car, they are likely to show signs of age, or be dusty or greasy. If they are clean and shiny, it suggests they have been replaced. That may mean the car has been hit in the rear. Although that damage has been repaired, there is a risk of damage or weakening of other parts of the car.
ApprovalBuddy has posted a handy video on how to inspect a used car at youtube.com/watch?v=Ye_DBYIuRx4.