You've been searching the car ads and found your dream car.
It looks like a great deal.
But hang on, there are sharks about, beware.
Buying a second-hand car, particularly via a private sale, can be a minefield.
But there are precautions you can take to lessen the risk.
Buying a car privately is usually cheaper than buying from a dealer, but you have to rely a lot more on your own judgment as you won't get any protection like statutory warranty.
Get the car inspected by a mechanic you trust.
Check the car in full daylight.
Look for oil leaks and upholstery damage.
Worn carpet indicates high kilometres.
Check if there's any money owing on the car with a Register of Encumbered Vehicles (REV's) check.
Ensure the car isn't a statutory write-off.
Check you are buying from the true owner of the car.
Registration certificates do not prove ownership.
You should sight a receipt.
Ask to see the seller's driver's licence.
Look at the car's compliance plate which is usually found on the firewall between the engine area and the inside of the car.
Match the VIN number, date of manufacture, engine number (which is marked on the engine itself) and number plates with those on the registration papers.
When buying a second-hand car, check the ANCAP rating and buy the safest car you can afford.
The later the model, the safer the car.
Don't let your emotion override common sense.
Take your time and be selective.
Another car will always come up for sale.
'Caveat Emptor' (buyer beware).
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