Australian Fears when Buying a Second-Hand Car

16th March 2017

Buying a car is a process that can be fraught with worry for many Australians. After all, not everyone is a mechanic, and most of us don’t know our carburetor from our alternators. When that car is secondhand, there’s an extra set of fears added to the mix.

Even though there are massive savings to be made by purchasing a used vehicle, there are a lot of factors that can turn people off. So what exactly is it that has Aussies hesitant to take the plunge for a potential saving of thousands? A recent survey uncovered some of the reasons people fret, and while some answers were predictable, some were...interesting to say the least!

For example, 0.19% of respondents were concerned that their vehicle would be haunted, while the same percentage were also nervous their new set of wheels would feature a dead body in the boot (let’s hope the two aren’t related!). And, in a fear we can all identify with, another 0.28% of those surveyed said they were freaked out about spiders lurking in their new car.

It’s no surprise, though, that the biggest fears when buying previously owned cars relate to quality and reliability. Nearly 20% of respondents confessed they were worried about getting a dud car, while 18% were anxious there would be hidden problems down the track. But Michael Van West, the Used Car and Wholesale Manager for Keystar Auto World, says there are many checks and balances in larger dealerships to ensure that doesn’t happen.

“I can understand people having those fears,” he says. “That’s natural, because people have in their heads that people wouldn’t get rid of a good car, they’d only get rid of a bad car. Which definitely isn’t the case.”

He continues: “While many cars do come in with problems initially, they’re almost always minor, such as a bald tyre or brakes need fixing.”

But Michael explains that the larger franchised dealerships not only fix the problems the car initially presents with, but they also look into what problems could arise in the future, and repair those, too.

“Most dealers do 80 to 120 point checks on their cars,” Michael says. “They’re dictated by franchisees. They expect a certain high reputation for used cars coming in.

“Our workshops are very stringent…they won’t take shortcuts with existing problems. Then they will actually go ‘Well, this is going to wear out in the next three to six months, so it might be roadworthy now but it’s not going to be.’ So we will actually replace and fix those things before they’re a problem.”

Michael Van West

He says in a crowded market, it’s very important for dealers to maintain their reputation, and recommends potential buyers do research before hitting the lot - not just on the car they want but on the dealers themselves. He says these days you can find all sorts of reviews all over the internet.

“Also go in and have a look at the cars,” he suggests. “If you walk into a car yard and you see the cars don’t look loved or cared for or properly ‘lot prepared’ then you know they probably won’t be taken care of mechanically either.