Cars for Sale 
Tips when Buying
Pre Purchase Inspection 
Checking Vehicle Ownership 



Tips when Buying a Car

Be satisfied the seller is actually the "owner" of the vehicle

You can check vehicle ownership in several ways.

Is there money owing on the car ?

Wherever a vehicle is purchased subject to finance, this is required to be recorded in the Personal Property Security register. You can check this to see if there is money owing on the vehicle by contacting Baycorp Advantage, who provide an inexpensive checking service (see Checking Ownership). It is quite legitimate for a seller to be selling a car that is still subject to finance, but as buyer, you need to be satisfied that the seller has cleared the debt before you hand over your money. The implications of buying a car privately, which still has money owing on it, is that it could be legitimately repossessed by the financier who holds the security interest

Is it mechanically sound ?

You can get a mechanical check (A VT Check) from Vehicle Testing NZ.
You can check yourself for the following:

  • Check the oil on the dip-stick. If it has a metallic look, this may indicate excessive engine wear.
  • Take the breather cap off the top of the engine, while the engine is running and observe whether there is excessive smoking. This can indicate wear in the valve stems, or badly sealed valves, which will effect performance and fuel economy.
  • New brake, clutch or accelerator pedals may indicate that the car has done more miles than the odometer states.
  • Check the Service Log Book, and the service sticker on the window - is it recent, is there a record of consistent maintenance.

Test driving the vehicle

Make sure you take the vehicle for a test drive. Ensure you actually drive it yourself.

Sellers are understandably nervous about just letting someone drive off in their vehicle, even if you've left them the keys to yours. After all, it could be one you've just taken for a test drive from someone else. Expect them to want to accompany you.

Negotiating a price

You should have done your homework, by scanning the papers, websites and car yards, to get a reasonable idea of what the type and condition of vehicle is worth. You can expect to get a private sale vehicle for less than you'll pay in the car yard, but don't be too aggressive. Private sellers are selling privately because they expect to get a better price than they'll get from a caryard. If your genuinely interested in the car, don't get too cheeky about price, as people can be quickly offended and not want to deal with you, even if you were prepared to pay more than you first offered.

Set your self a sensible limit and start close to it, with maybe one (or at most two) alternative, higher offers than your original offer.

Look for variables other than price. The seller may offer to put on new tyres or fix some aspect that your concerned about. By bringing other aspects like this into your negotiation, you can avoid getting stuck on price.

Making payment and taking ownership

Sellers are generally not going to accept a personal cheque, but will often accept a Bank cheque (which is guaranteed by the Bank), which you get by visiting your local bank branch and asking them to write you a Bank Cheque from funds in your account.

If you use CarsGO's finance referral service, the Finance Company will give the payment direct to the seller, who will then pass over the car and the ownership papers.

Changing ownership

See the legal information section on obligations regarding change of ownership.


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