buying a car privately NZ

Your Guide to Buying a Car Privately NZ

Buying a car from a private seller instead of a dealership can help you to score a better deal. However, you need to be careful, as buyers don’t have a lot of legal protection in a private sale. Learn how to check a car before buying as well as other tips and tricks to lower the risk of buying a car privately in NZ!

What to Ask the Buyer

First of all, you will need to ensure that the car you buy has been well looked after and is suitable for your needs. Asking the following questions can help you to learn a lot more about how efficient and safe the car is, as well as how much it was used by the previous owner.

How Frequently Did You Drive It?

People who are not knowledgeable about cars often assume that you should buy a car that has as little mileage on it as possible (has travelled the least distance). However, it’s more important to find a vehicle that has been well looked after. Cars with extremely low mileage may not have been used for long stretches of time, which can actually damage the vehicle. Unused cars can suffer from issues like seized wheel cylinders or brake callipers, for example.

Instead, try to find a car in the sweet spot of not too little or too much mileage. Depending on the age of the vehicle, you might want it to have driven around 100,000km. Ask the buyer how frequently they used the vehicle. If it has travelled little distance, but they drove it 5 minutes to and from work every day, this is ideal!

How Regularly Has It Been Serviced?

Finding out the history of the vehicle is incredibly important. Car owners who look after their vehicles will get them regularly serviced at least once a year. The more frequently the car has been serviced, the better condition it’s likely to be in.

What’s the Safety Rating?

Safety ratings are a crucial indicator of how safe your car will be on the road. Vehicle safety ratings range from 1 – 5 stars. A vehicle with a 1-star safety rating is not that safe, while a car with 5 stars is extremely safe.

This system is based on how much protection your vehicle offers if you crashed. Those with 1 – 2 stars are likely to crumple on impact, potentially causing serious harm to anyone inside. Look for a vehicle with a safety rating of 3 or above, as these cars are better able to withstand impact. If the seller isn’t sure of the safety rating, you can look it up online on the Right Car website.

How Good is the Fuel Consumption?

This is a good question to ask to get a general idea of how much the owner spends on petrol. However, you can always look up the fuel economy rating of the vehicle instead. The fuel economy rating system works in a similar way to safety ratings. However, what is being measured is how fuel-efficient the vehicle is. This system uses a 1 – 6-star rating method, with 6 being the most efficient and 1 the least.

The system approximates how many litres of fuel different types of cars use per 100 KM driven. A vehicle with a 1-star fuel economy rating might require 17.3 litres of fuel to drive 100 KM. If you buy a car with a 6-star rating, however, this will only use 2.8 litres of fuel across the same distance. The more fuel-efficient your car is, the more money you will save on petrol costs each year.

How to Check a Car Before Buying

Go for A Test Drive

Take the car for a test drive to check that everything is working as it should. While you’re driving, listen out for any odd rattling or grinding noises. These types of sounds may indicate that something is wrong with the car, and you should either not purchase the vehicle or get it checked out before making a decision.

While you have the car for the test drive, park up and check everything you can – the brake lights, indicators, seat belts, and windscreen wipers. Also double check that the registration and WOF are displayed and up to date.  

Take it to a Mechanic

If you’re not knowledgeable enough about cars to thoroughly check the engine and parts of the vehicle are all intact and working, take it to a mechanic. Getting an independent person to check the car can give you the peace of mind that you know the vehicle is in excellent condition when you buy it.

If the mechanic finds that anything needs fixing, let the owner know that you will only buy the car once they get it repaired. This cost shouldn’t be your responsibility unless they are willing to lower the price to account for it.

Top Tips for Buying a Car Privately in NZ

Once you’ve checked that the car is suitable and running well, you might be ready to purchase it! If this is the case, here is what you need to do to protect yourself:

  • Create a contract with the seller. Put your agreement into writing, including the date of sale, price, and any other information required. You and the seller should both sign this.
  • Save a copy of your agreement and any other information the seller gives you about the car, including what was listed on the ad.
  • Notify the NZ Transport Agency that you are now the car’s owner. The previous owner will need to do this too, to prove that they agree to the sale.

Search through a trusted third-party site, such as Shopless, for your ideal new car! The easy search functionality allows you to sort vehicles by criteria such as location, price, and distance. Start the hunt for your new car now.