How to go about buying a used car in Sydney?
May 30, 2010 10:54 PM   Subscribe

I need help in figuring out how to go about buying a used car in Australia.

I have recently moved to Sydney, Australia, and need to buy a used car (because I'll be moving out of Australia in 2-3 years).

Google searches have led me to way too many websites, and the information overload has been overwhelming.

I shall be grateful for any helpful information or links, especially from those who have bought used cars in Sydney.

I have never purchased a car of any sort in my life. Feel free to share your experience.
posted by vidur to Shopping (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The NRMA has a pretty good guide to what you should keep in mind.

If you're buying from a private vendor, for instance from carsales or the Trading Post:

1. Check the red book. What's the market value of the car you're looking at?
2. Arrange for a mechanical inspection of the car. Is the car safe, and does it need any expensive repairs?
3. REVS check and vehicle history check. Is the car stolen, has it ever been written off, or does it have money owing on it?
4. See the vendor's identification, get a receipt.

A used car dealer is likely to be able to give you a vehicle inspection with a warranty, but it's worth doing the REVS and vehicle checks for yourself.

Within 14 days you'll need to go to the RTA to register the car in your name. You'll need:

1. A "green slip", compulsory third party insurance. If you're buying from a dealer, you should expect them to arrange it for you. A private vendor will give you theirs. Expect to pay several hundred dollars a year.
2. If the registration is due, you may need a "pink slip", an inspection report you can get from most mechanics or car dealers.
3. Registration from the RTA as per the link above.

In Sydney, it's worth keeping in mind that the closer to the coast the car has been owned, the more likely it is to be rusty. Don't buy cars advertised parked by the side of the road, they're proverbially suspect. Finally: don't go to Fleet Sales on Parramatta Road in Burwood. They're a bunch of sleazes.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:31 PM on May 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In addition to the good advice above: used car dealers normally set up their businesses near each other, so you can wander from one to another at will, eg on a Saturday (and probably also on Sundays, I'm not sure).

Parramatta Road, from around Petersham westwards towards Burwood, is probably the main concentration of dealerships, but there are other clusters - eg in Parramatta itself, or on the Princes Highway from around Arncliffe to Rockdale. There would have to be others, but Parramatta Rd is a good place to start looking.

Having said that, I've only ever bought cars from private vendors - Joe Publics who advertise in places like the Trading Post. Gumtree is also popular.

You'll generally pay more from a dealer, but should get the advantage of some kind of warranty. Private sellers are much less likely to tolerate requests for professional vehicle inspections, so if you take the private route it's better to know something about the model you are after (common faults etc) and even better if you have a knowledgeable friend to take a look at the car.

One more tip: you'll often see private advertisements saying "12 months rego" - this is a good thing, because annual registration normally means that the owner has to take the car in for a safety inspection before it can be re-registered, so that's a reasonable (but still not perfect) guarantee that the car is OK. People selling cars will often wait until just after re-registering, because this makes it a whole lot easier to sell.

Note that rego (the registration + the green slip for the year) is worth something around $700 these days, so the exact same car can be worth $X or ($X+700) or anywhere in between, depending on how many months of registration it has left. The remainder of the year's registration transfers with the ownership.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:29 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

(the flip side of the 12 months rego thing is that you really really really do not want to buy any car that is almost out of rego, because chances are the owner knows that it needs expensive work, so they are trying to shift their problem onto some unsuspecting sucker)
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:30 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I asked almost exactly the same question here.. hope it helps.
posted by taff at 12:52 AM on May 31, 2010

Have a look at the Choice magazine (Australian consumer advocate magazine) guide to buying a used car in Australia.
posted by Year of meteors at 2:00 AM on May 31, 2010

Best answer: Nthing the bit about Australian Fleet Sales. They have branches everywhere. Avoid them like the plague!

If I were you I would not buy private. Too much risk about buying a car that is stolen, "rebirthed", or just plain has money owing on it. The best thing is to stake out a dealer - as mentioned above, Parramatta Rd is the best place. Just drive out past the entry to the M4 at Homebush, and you will see literally dozens of used car lots. Dealers will also arrange registration for you, and they can also register a car for three months initially which can be a saving up front. Also a reputable dealer will have no problem at all with allowing you to have your chosen car independently inspected. If the dealer *does* quibble about that, walk away! The REVs check that Fiasco da Gama mentioned upthread is a good idea too.

Have a look at this link, from the NSW Dept of Fair Trading. The main point to note is that used car dealers offer a 3 months or 5,000km standard warranty - but only if the car is not more than 10 years old and has not travelled more than 160,000km. Make sure you check the odometer readings and see how many kilometres the card has travelled!

Make sure that any car you buy can run on standard unleaded or (even better) E10 unleaded (standard unleaded + 10% ethanol). Premium unleaded is way more expensive than standard. Avoid any car fitted with LPG. Yes, LPG is cheap but the tanks are only certified to last 10 years and then they will need to be replaced - big $$$ that you don't need.

Be on the lookout for ex-taxis too - these are usually (around 95%) Ford Falcons from the early 2000s (but can be earlier). These have done 100s of thousands of kilometers and may need a new engine at any time (not to mention all the other work). Once sure sign of an ex-taxi is that they will 100% be fitted with LPG.

Finally, it can often be worth your while to be "pre-approved" for a loan. That is, if you know you are going to spend $10,000, approach your bank beforehand and basically get the go-ahead for that amount. Two things are good about this: 1) It makes you only spend what you know you can afford to pay back; and 2) You don't get sucked in to "dealer finance"! In a lot of cases dealer finance is where the dealer makes their *real* profit.

Good luck!
posted by humpy at 3:48 AM on May 31, 2010

Best answer: i'd just like to add: if/ when you end up needing a green slip (compulsory third party insurance- it covers injury to anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident apart from the driver at fault) make sure to check out the Green Slip Price calculator- depending on your situation, you could save a few hundred bucks by shopping around for the best price- the actual cover provided by all seven green slip insurers in NSW is exactly the same.
posted by Philby at 7:15 AM on May 31, 2010

How much driving do you intend to do and where do you live? There are a number of "car shares" operating in Sydney now. I belong to GoGet and I like them a lot. There are half a dozen cars parked within a couple blocks of my house that I can book via phone or internet whenever I need them. Their website has a good comparison with the costs of car ownership. Even a cheap junker is going to cost you for rego, insurance, gas, and probably parking, so you may be better off signing up for one of these services.
posted by web-goddess at 8:05 PM on May 31, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Lots of great inputs!

@web-goddess: I'll probably only be driving for medium/short trips on weekends, but might also drive long distances on long weekends. I live in a suburb about 30 mins away by bus from CBD (where I work). I checked GoGet out, but they don't have a convenient pod in my area. I checked out quite a few other car rental services as well, and the math doesn't seem to be working out for me.
posted by vidur at 4:50 PM on June 1, 2010

afterthought: the bit about 12 months rego meaning that the car has recently passed a safety inspection applies only to (slightly) older vehicles.

Within the first few years (the RTA website could tell you exactly how many), new cars don't need to be taken for a safety inspection as they are assumed to be safe.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:04 PM on June 1, 2010

Best answer: I'm a bit late to the party - but depending on how much you want to spend, check out Pickles Auctions. They get a lot of ex-lease and ex-government vehicles (also repossessed vehicles) which they auction weekly - good if you're looking for a medium to large car - they are mostly 1.5-2 years old. This is generally where dealers buy their cars from, so you can generally save $3000-5000 on these vehicles.
posted by cholly at 5:47 PM on June 1, 2010

Response by poster: UPDATE: I bought a used car from Pickles Auctions (from their Fixed Price sale, not the auctions). It came without registration, but had a Blue Slip. I got a Green Slip (third party insurance) done, and then got the registration (and an eToll tag) at the RTA.

The fixed price at Pickles is really fixed. They did not reduce a single dollar from the listed price. On the plus side though, the price is at least a couple of thousand dollars lower than an equivalent car (for my car, YMMV) from dealers in other places like Parramatta Road.
posted by vidur at 5:39 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

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