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How to buy a second-hand car 

Buying a second-hand car may take a little patience and planning. But, once you’ve decided on a model, gone for a test drive and read the fine print, you’ll be on the road in a flash. Not sure where to start? Check out our used car guide today.

1. Determine your budget

Consider your budget and determine what type of car you can afford. This is a great time to think about taking out finance, or to factor in extra costs like insurance, registration and servicing. Decide whether you need a loan, or whether you can dip into your savings account.

2. Shortlist your selection

Like many people on the hunt for a second-hand car, you’re probably scanning the streets to work out what model, type and size of car you want. Now’s also the time to consider your deal breakers. Maybe you’re in the market for an SUV crossover, but want something that’s fuel efficient and not too big. Or perhaps you’re after a vehicle that’s done under a certain number of kilometres, or manufactured in a particular year. To help you get started, use our handy Used Car Shortlist Template.

3. Inspect and test drive the car

Once you’ve made it to the dealership, the sale yard or the private seller’s garage, you should ask the seller a few questions about the car. Ask things like whether it’s had any accidents and why the owner is selling the vehicle. Assess its condition, and open the doors and boot to check for damage.  

Once you’ve done that, it’s time for a test drive! Listen for troubling noises, such as rattling, clicking or whining. Notice how the brakes feel (grinding or screeching noises can indicate worn brake pads and rotors) and test its turning circle (a 90-degree turn should feel effortless and smooth).

Make sure you bring our Used Car Inspection Checklist to your test drive.

4. Make the deal

Dealmaking doesn’t come naturally for everyone. But with a bit of practice, anyone can negotiate a fair price. Before you begin, make sure you have a good idea of how much this vehicle sells for across both dealership and private sales. Consider whether you’re getting the right price relative to the car’s worth.

Read our tips on how to negotiate while buying a car.

5. Go through the fine print 

Once you’ve made the deal, you’ll probably be jumping for joy. But before you pop the champagne, you’ll need to complete all the vehicle transfer paperwork and, of course, make the payment. Don’t forget to transfer any tags and permits.

Remember, you’re not alone. The road to car ownership can be bumpy, so Suncorp Bank has developed an online Used Car Buying Checklist to steer you in the right direction.

Explore Suncorp’s
Used Car Buying Checklist

Find out more

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