Getting the Best Deals on Used Cars

By Angela Monroe - December 28, 2020

Getting the Best Deals on Used Cars

Buying a car is exciting – and nail-biting: ‘Umming and ahhing’ too long and you might miss it. Buy too fast, you might miss out on a better deal… Here are some tips:

Bring out your ‘shrewd-negotiator’ side with these tips and get great deals on used cars…

Firstly, getting a great deal can be split into two parts: 1: not buying a ‘lemon’ and 2: getting the lowest price possible. We’ve taken both of these into consideration to help you get that sweet deal…

Dealer or Private Sale?


Many people assume that dealers offer a better option – they have warranties and inspect vehicles for example. Used car dealers are bound by laws – dealers must ensure the vehicle is legal and roadworthy at the time of delivery to the buyer.

Additionally, there’s often a ‘cooling-off’ period before the buyer needs to make full payment. The downside is that prices are generally higher than private sales. If dealers don’t make money on cars they acquire, they won’t be in business.

Private sellers – buyer beware.

The world of private sellers offers amazing deals on used cars and a huge range. Often, you’ll find well-maintained vehicles with full service histories through private sellers. Always check out cars you’re keen on in person, not only online. Photos may be worth a thousand words but seeing and test driving it in real life is worth a thousand more.

When negotiating with private sellers, get to know them and ask a lot of questions about the vehicle. You may find they’re a genuine person offering a good deal or perhaps they’re trying to hide car red flags.

Tip: Great deals on used cars can often pop up when the seller is in a rush – they may need the money for legal expenses or be moving interstate for example. Find out why they’re selling the vehicle.

Use Damage to Your Advantage

Those stone chips, light scratches and upholstery damage that don’t actually affect the mechanical workings of the car can help buyers. If you find a scratch in the paint for example, use it to barter down the price to get deals on used cars.

Do some research on car repainting and on average repair costs to get an idea of how much you might be able to negotiate off the asking price.

Of course, if there’s serious damage needing expensive repairs, it’s probably better to walk away.

Inspecting a vehicle…

Make sure you thoroughly inspect the vehicle you’re interested in. A check engine light can mean anything from a 50-cent fuse to big-dollar repairs. If you’re not confident, consider paying a professional to do it for you – you’ll receive a detailed report and get an idea of repair costs that may crop up.

Additionally, a PPSR (Personal Property Securities Register) report can be purchased online for a minimal cost – these provide information on whether the vehicle has ever been reported as written off, stolen or has any finance owing

Shop Around

A bit of a no-brainer but an important one. Scour used car sales online and visit car dealers in your area to find the best deals on used cars. If you have to travel a long way to see a car, do some research on the make and model.

You may find common issues that arise with specific models and be able to get answers from the seller beforehand and request additional photos.

What about cars located interstate?

It happens all too often – you find that perfect car at a low price. Only thing is, you’re in Melbourne and the car is in Brisbane!. Don’t write it off just yet. Great deals on used cars interstate are easy to organise.

Transport companies deal with moving cars all the time and can often truck cars throughout Australia for several hundred dollars – depending on the distance.

Make sure the vehicle is registered and you have the necessary paperwork as you’ll have to change the plates to your state – a simple process. Most states simply need to view the vehicle’s serial numbers (VIN and chassis number) and can re-register it on the spot.

It can be quite an ordeal hunting for that perfect car, but it’ll be worth it.


If used cars in your price range aren’t cutting the mustard, a car loan is a good answer. Taking the plunge and increasing your budget to buy a better quality example can save you money, time and stress down the road. Avoid those repair bills and outdated features.

Did you know that around 90% of car sales in Australia are arranged through car loans and finance? When looking at car loans, make sure to compare options and understand the fine print. If you’ve never had credit before, a car loan can build your credit history and allow for more finance options in the future.

Know the Model Variant

Cars come in different trim levels which offer different features – and prices. For example, Mazda’s popular CX-5 – base models start from $30,880, the top-of-the-range model is around $52,330 – that’s nearly a 70% increase!

In the used car market, the lines between models can get blurred – avoid paying a premium for a base model when finding deals on used cars. 

The Bottom Line…

Like with any big purchase in life, research and shopping around really help. Knowing what you need, what you want and, more importantly, what you want to pay is half work in finding great deals on used cars.

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.


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