Buying a car

Some advice to help you buy a used car.

Do your research

  • Buying a car is a big investment so it’s worth doing your research. Be aware that if a car is much cheaper than similar cars of the same age and model then there may be a good reason.
  • Consider where you buy a car from. You may get a cheaper deal from a private sale, but buying from a dealer gives more consumer rights, especially if they’re a registered motor vehicle trader.

Inspection tips

  • Take your time and carefully examine everything you want to look at – not just what the seller shows you. Be especially wary of engine wear and rust with older cars.
  • If possible, inspect the car on a dry sunny day– it’s easier to see visual clues to the car’s real condition.
  • Know what you can fix and the cost of repairs.
  • It’s a good idea to take the following with you when you inspect the car:
    • a friend with car knowledge if you don’t have this yourself
    • a checklist of things to look for
    • a magnet to check for hidden rust repairs
    • a torch to look under the bonnet.

Check the paperwork

  • Ask the seller for any service or repair history.
  • Check that the car has a Warrant of Fitness (WoF) less than one month old. Or, you may buy the car “as is, where is” but you’ll need to give the seller a written promise that you’ll only drive the car to get repairs or a WoF. You may need to pay for repairs to bring the car up to WoF standard. Visit your local VINZ branch if you need to obtain a WoF.
  • Make sure you see a Certificate of Registration before you purchase the car to ensure that the current owner of the vehicle is the person/business selling it to you.
  • If you’re buying from a dealer, make sure you take the time to read the Sale Agreement and Consumer Information Notice before signing it.
  • Complete a Change of Ownership form. This can be done at your local VINZ branch.
    Check the NZ Transport Agency website for more information.
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