Buying your next car can be a daunting process.   There is a lot to consider, and given that it is a fair investment of both your time and cold hard cash, we’ve put together a few handy tips on what to look for.

Compliance/Build Date

The year your car was built & complianced can have a big impact on the final sale price of the vehicle.

Simply put, the date your car was ‘complianced’ is when it was approved by authorities for sale in Australia.  The build date refers to when it was actually put together in the factory. These dates don’t necessarily have to be the same month or even close together.

For example, a car could have been built in November 2010, but not complianced until February 2011.  If the car is then advertised as a 2011 model, you can negotiate with a seller to reconsider their price as their car is likely ‘older’ than similar cars on the market.

Service history

A car with one or two skipped services may not be the worst example of a car on sale, but when you look at the logbook and the services history is patchy, then you can start asking questions. It may not become a problem, but an irregular service history can mean that certain maintenance items were skipped and when those things break or go wrong – you will wear the cost.

You can use a lack of service history to bargain with a seller, especially if major services have been missed in the past. Likewise, if the car is coming up for some major service intervals, the seller could be trying to offload the car to avoid paying the servicing.

If you’re looking for a car as hassle-free as possible, a complete service history will be much more reliable than a car that’s missing a few logbook services.

Tyre tread

One thing that you can give the once over when you’re inspecting a car is the tyres. The four wheels can tell you lots about the car you’re buying, even if you’re pressed for time or faced with a seller who’s telling you everything you want to hear.

Examine the tread of the tyre. While it’s fine if the tyres are worn in (although it would be better if they had been recently replaced), check to see if the tread has worn evenly. If the front tyres are losing their tread but the rear tyres look almost new, for example, it might indicate a problem with the wheel alignment.

If all the tread is evenly worn, but the tyres are due for replacement within the next year, you can bargain the cost of a new set of tyres out of the selling price – or, similarly, ask the seller to pay for a new set of tyres as part of the deal.

Carhistory Reports

Looking at a used car, it might look neat and tidy on the surface but who knows what’s hidden in its past. A cut and polish may hide bigger problems underneath the metal.

Carhistory can provide a comprehensive report based on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) including whether it has ever been stolen, water damaged, written off in an accident and even the average market price for similar cars based on their odometer readings.

While it does cost money to get the report, it’s a small price to pay compared to committing to a car that later turns out to have problems down the road.

Recall status

When a recall is issued for a car, it’s usually for something that will affect you on the road, but isn’t always the worst mark against a vehicle.

Manufacturers used to only issue recalls for the most serious safety breaches.  Nowadays though, recalls can cover anything that will distract from the experience of using your car, so a car with a recall history or in line to be repaired doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs to be avoided.

What it does mean, however, is to check about whether a car you’re looking at is affected by any recalls, and do your research into whether it has been affected by a recall, and if it was properly repaired by a dealership.

This applies to cars that could be several years old, with some recalls affecting vehicles stretching back to the start of a particular component being used or process in the factory that has since been changed.

There are some very detailed government websites that will help give you an insight into recalls.  https://www.productsafety.

By following a few simple checks, and you will be able to enter the purchase of your next car with a lot more confidence.