Before Buying a Used Car

Find tips and use tools available on this page when buying a used car so you can spot a lemon and make sure your purchase is a right decision.

What to Check when Buying a Used Car

To make sure that the pre-used vehicle you are planning to buy will not be problematic in the long run, here are some helpful tips for buying a used car.

Arrange a meeting date together with a Mechanic

Setting up a pre-purchase meeting with your seller together with a mechanic can help ensure you get a professional opinion on the state of the car.

Check the Paperwork

It is also important to check the vehicle's legal papers and see if it has any violations or any kinds of discrepancies. When buying from a private seller, ask for their driver's license and the registration papers of the vehicle.

Do not hesitate to ask them if you find any information that doesn't match - there are possibilities that these discrepancies could mean that the vehicle was stolen.

Inspect the outside and inside of the vehicle

Look at the condition of the car from the outside and inside.


  • check the paint of the car for any scratches, marks or window bubbles

  • check the tyres and the spare if they are running out of tread

  • check if all the lights are working properly


  • make sure to test the electronics are working properly

  • see if there are any issues on the seats as well as the seatbelts

  • test the car's AC condition

  • check the speakers and radio if they have any issues

  • ask for the jack and other basic tool/toolkit

Check the vehicle's engine

Although this might require some deeper car knowledge, it is important to know the basic things when checking the vehicle's engine.

Start up the engine and let it be for about 5 minutes, open the bonnet to if there are issues with:

  • exhaust fumes

  • car leaks

  • irregular noises

These issues sometimes indicates a far more bigger issues than you think. Other than the engine, you might also try and do these:

  • check the dipstick for the oil colour - milky coloured oil could tell that there is some problem with the engine

  • see if all the radiator fans are running

  • remove the radiator cap to see if there is enough coolant - also ask if there is a specific coolant brand to be used

Test drive the car

When doing a test drive for a second-hand vehicle, do it where the road is as quiet as possible.

When on the road, listen for any rattling sound under the car. Make sure that the engine runs smoothly. Try driving on an uphill and downhill road to check if there are any issues with the breaks. Lastly, see if there are any issues indicated on the dashboard such as warning lights and temperature levels.

*Comparison rates based on a loan of $30,000 for a five-year loan term. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. Rates correct as of 1 July 2024.

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