Getting down with cars

You’ve found a car you like, you’ve done your homework and all the numbers check out. Great!

Now you need to inspect the car and see if there are any underlying issues you should be aware of before making the purchase. If you know someone who is a motor vehicle enthusiast or even better a mechanic, it’s a good idea to take them with you. If not, here’s a few things you can do:

Take it for a spin

You can find out so much from a few trips round the block – what shape the gearbox is in, brake quality and if there are any visibility issues. You should aim to get onto a road where you can legally exceed 60 kph, as some problems don’t materialise until over that speed.

Kick the tyres

Examine the tyres for any splits (a sign of old age), even wear across the tyres and the amount of tread. A new set of budget tyres will set you back at least $400, so if they’re not up to scratch you can try negotiate the price of the car down.

Get low

Look under the car for fluid leaks – once with the engine off and then again with it running. Squat at the front corners of the car and look down the sides for ripples that might indicate body repairs.

Get under the hood

Open up the hood with the engine running and listen for knocks, ticks or hisses.

Do a complete sweep

Check all doors and the boot open and close smoothly. Also look at the edges and hinges for rust. Check the windows wind down and back up with no issues. Lock and unlock all the doors from the inside and out.

  • Ask a friend or the salesman/owner to sit behind the wheel and operate the headlights, brake lights and indicators.
  • Get behind the wheel and make sure all system controls work – the air conditioner cools, the sat nav functions, the entertainment systems work and so on.
  • Lift up the pad or carpet in the boot and check for rust or worse yet holes.

If you find something that concerns you, don’t buy the car. Or negotiate the price down to factor in any repairs or replacements you might need to pay for.

If the car passes your own inspection, but you’d like an expert opinion before committing to buy, take the car to a local mechanic (probably not the one the user car sales agent recommends) for a more thorough inspection to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

If it all runs smoothly, start the ball rolling on the paperwork! But remember to stick to your budget. Don’t get carried away.
Need help in deciding whether to buy a car or not? Get in touch with us at (08) 8231 4709 or send us an email at

Article reproduced from MapMyPlan

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Zac Zacharia (Managing Director) has been assisting clients to create wealth and secure their futures for over 14 years.

He is also an accomplished presenter and educator

Co-authoring the popular investment book, Property vs Shares.