Going the Extra Mile

Hilary Hackney

My fiancé and I recently moved into a new home, which we are both really excited about. It has lots of space and is perfect for entertaining.  


The only down-side for me, is that it’s quite far from where I work, so I have to do a lot more traveling. The travelling itself is not too bad, however my car was over 10 years old with a lot of mileage already on the clock. With the extra mileage being a daily occurrence, I decided that I should upgrade my car.  

I would have loved to get a brand-new car - let’s face it, everybody loves that new car smell and some brand-new mags would have been sweet, but I realised that a second-hand car can offer better value, while leaving my wallet intact.


After doing tons of research and looking at and test driving quite a few cars – I realised that purchasing a low mileage used car can be quite tricky. I am lucky to know a little bit about cars – but I still could have been quite easily tricked into buying something that was not as perfect as the seller wanted me to believe it was. 


Let’s set aside all those fears that might come from buying a used car  and focus on these handy tips that I have put together, on how to determine the condition of the car you want to buy and getting accurate information to make a good purchasing decision : 


1. When test driving, check handling, brakes, and look for any signs of mechanical problems such as overheating.


2. Turn off the radio while you test drive, and check that there are no extraordinary knocking or rumbling sounds when you start it up.


3. Check the interior for any obvious faults such as ripped material or leather. The wear on the rubber of the brake, clutch and accelerator should be consistent with the age of the car.


4. Check that the battery terminals are clear of any build-up.


5. Check for smoke from the exhaust – this may mean some sort of engine damage.


6. Check that the body colour is even throughout the car, a change (even slight) may mean replacement body work has been done, and may indicate that the car was involved in a crash.


7. Look for overspray on the inside of body panels, this may also indicate body work has been done.


8. Check that the tyres are in a good condition, and if not, that replacements are both available and reasonably priced. Replacement tyres may be expensive so check prices beforehand to ensure that, if necessary, your budget will cover this.


9. Tyres with uneven wear may indicate bigger problems, not easily resolved with tyre-alignment machines. Have this checked out with the rest of the car before you buy.


10. If you find out that the car, you’re looking at has been in an accident (minor), it doesn’t really need to be a deal breaker.  A basic bumper-bashing may not indicate any structural damage, but make sure that you are happy that the damage is not significant.  


11. Always insist on the car’s paperwork and service record as this will also give you some idea of the car’s history and how well it has been cared for. A big advantage of purchasing a used car through a dealer such as Imperial Auto, is that they’re able to do history checks to ensure the car has not been stolen, or had any major accident damage.


Another thing I discovered, is that a roadworthy certificate (RWC) is not a guarantee that the car is problem-free. It is a document that simply states that the car meets the minimum statutory requirements in terms of safety, such as brakes, suspension and lights. A car could have a RWC and still have a mechanical problem.


The guys at my nearest Imperial Auto dealer took all of my needs into consideration and managed to find me a really good 2-year-old used car , which is really fuel efficient and comfortable to drive. I was really chuffed as the car was already fitted with smash and grab and a great sound system.  All the history checks and paperwork were handled by them and they also took my old car as a trade-in and organised finance for me. 


Now that my wheels are sorted, I can focus on my gorgeous fiancé, our new home and enjoying my ride into work!