5 tips to secure a great used car deal

Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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, updated on November 25th, 2021       

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Scoring a deal on a used car is a veritable art form, some would say. It’s not just showing up, ponying up the sticker price and driving out of there. There are some tried and true methods that you can follow in order to make sure you are securing a great deal. So, here are some of the top tips to landing a great used car deal.

Know what you want

Before you go out to buy anything, you need to know what you’re interested in purchasing, right? Right. That’s why the first tip is to figure out what it is, exactly, what you want. Do you have a certain model in mind? Are there some features that you absolutely have to have? What would your dream car be? These are all important aspects that play a part in your decision-making process. Once you are clear on what you are looking for, whether it’s a specific model or a series of features, you can go shopping.

Inform yourself

Let’s make one thing clear: the biggest mistake you can make is to get into this uninformed. Before anything else, do your research. Find out what the deal is with the dealership you’re visiting, what their price range is, how old their cars are, how it compares to other dealers and their respective prices, etc. If you can get a personal recommendation from someone, it’s even better. Don’t go into it blind, because you will get ripped off. Read our comprehensive used car buying guide here.

Look into car financing

You may not have the budget for a new car. You may not even have the budget for a used car right now, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have options. Australia has a range of car financing programs, which can be used for both new and used cars. A $30,000 loan, for example, can be repaid in 5 years. Of course, you can take more or less and negotiate your repayment schedule, but be aware of the fact that if you dont have the funds to pay in cash, you can still get a car.

Drive a hard bargain

The entire point of buying a used car is to pay a “good” price for it, right? You don’t have the money to get a new one, so you are trying to save by making a compromise and hoping to score a great deal. That’s why you should always bargain at a used car dealer. Whatever you do, do not pay the price advertised, because you’re just earning the dealer a big ol’ commission by overpaying way too much. Instead, drive a hard bargain and make sure that you get the salesperson to offer you the lowest price they can.

Check out the car’s history

Never buy without looking into the background of a car. Never. Before you purchase, you need to poke around under the hood, see how the interior looks, get the VIN etc. But you also have to do a bit of research about who owned the car previously, how old it is, in what conditions it has been driven in to this date, how often it was taken for check-ups, how many repairs it underwent, and so on. You have to know everything about this car before committing to it because otherwise you may be in for some (unpleasant) surprises.

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