The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used Car in Australia | CMI Toyota

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used Car in Australia

Posted: 8/08/2023
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Tips, Tricks, and Insights for a Smart Used Car Purchase

The used car market in Australia has seen considerable fluctuations in recent years, with prices reaching unprecedented highs due to factors like global supply chain issues and the pandemic's impact on consumer behavior. As a result, finding a reliable and affordable used vehicle has become increasingly important for buyers. 

Purchasing from a trusted used car dealership like CMI Toyota ensures you get a quality vehicle at a competitive price, along with excellent customer service and support.

When will used car prices drop in Australia?

To understand when used car prices might drop in Australia, it's crucial to analyze trends and factors affecting the market. Recently, used car prices have begun to decrease as supply chain issues improve and the global economy stabilises. Although it's difficult to predict the exact timing, it's anticipated that the decline will continue through 2023.

As for the best time to buy a used car in Australia, it's essential to stay informed about market trends and be prepared to act when prices are favorable. Keep an eye on factors like interest rates, supply chain improvements, and economic conditions, as these may impact used car prices. 

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In summary, while it's challenging to pinpoint the precise moment when and if used car prices will drop to pre-pandemic levels, staying informed about market trends and working with a reputable used car dealership, like CMI Toyota, can help you secure the best deal on a used vehicle.

Where to buy used cars: dealerships vs. private sellers

Looking for a used car? You've got two main options: dealerships and private sellers.

Both come with advantages and disadvantages, so let's peek under the hood and learn the pros and cons of each option. That way, you’ll be better equipped to make the right choice for your next vehicle purchase.

Buying from a dealership

Quality assurance. Thorough inspections and warranties or guarantees on vehicles.
Financing options. Easier access to loans at a competitive rate and payment plans. 
Trade-ins. Option to trade in your old car at a competitive price, reducing the cost of the new one. 
Customer service. Dedicated and knowledgeable sales and support teams to assist throughout the buying process. 
Vehicle variety. Wide selection of makes and models to choose from.
90-Point Vehicle Inspections. Reputable dealerships, like CMI Toyota, will pass all used vehicles through a thorough 90-point vehicle inspection to check for any issues and ensure the vehicle is in good condition.
Money Back Guarantee. Reputable dealerships, like CMI Toyota, may offer a 7-day Money Back Guarantee giving you peace of mind when purchasing in case the vehicle isn’t exactly what you’re after when getting it home.
Potentially higher prices. Dealerships may have slightly higher prices due to overhead costs.

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Buying from a private seller

Potentially lower prices. Private sellers may offer lower prices as they don’t have the same overhead expenses as dealerships. 
Personal connection. Opportunity to learn about the car’s history directly from the owner.
No warranties or guarantees. Private sellers typically don’t provide any warranty or guarantee on the vehicle. 
Limited financing options. Private sellers usually don’t offer financing, requiring full payment upfront. 
Less support. Private sellers may not provide the same level of customer service or assistance throughout the buying process. 
Smaller selection. Availability of specific makes and models might be limited as they are only selling a specific vehicle.

Both options clearly have their pros and cons, but buying from a dealership generally offers more benefits and peace of mind. For a secure and hassle-free used car buying experience, we recommend choosing a reputable dealership like CMI Toyota.

Things to look for when buying a used car

Purchasing a used car? There's plenty to consider! Let's delve into key aspects you should look for:

  1. Age and Safety. Newer cars typically have better ANCAP safety and emission ratings, along with more advanced technology. However, older cars can be a more budget-friendly option. Toyotas are known for their reliability and high ANCAP scores, so even older models can be a great choice!
  2. Kilometres Driven. A car's kilometres can reveal its condition and longevity. Lower counts often mean less wear and tear. Don't forget to check the service maintenance history, too. Toyotas are famously durable, handling higher kilometres with ease.
  3. Condition is Key. Inspect the car inside and out. Look for damages, scratches, rust, tyre wear, and other signs of wear and tear. Pop the bonnet and check the engine and other components to ensure they're in good condition.
  4. Maintenance History. Well-maintained cars tend to be more reliable. Ask for service records and receipts to ensure the vehicle has undergone regular upkeep. Toyota vehicles are known for low maintenance costs, making them a smart choice for used car buyers. Toyota Certified Pre-owned Vehicles also have full maintenance history, giving you added peace of mind.
  5. Test Drive. Always take the car for a spin! Feel its performance on the road, listen for unusual noises, and check steering, brakes, and transmission. This is your chance to experience the quality and performance that Toyotas are famous for.

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Questions to ask your dealer or seller

Additionally, when purchasing a used car in Australia, it's important to do your due diligence by conducting essential inspections and asking the right questions. Here are some key questions to ask the seller:

  • What is the vehicle's history, including previous owners and accidents?
  • Has the vehicle ever been written off or stolen?
  • Does the vehicle come with a warranty or guarantee?
  • What is the vehicle's service history, and has it been regularly serviced to its service schedule?
  • Are there any outstanding finance or debts on the vehicle?
  • Has the vehicle been modified in any way? If so, are the modifications legal and compliant with Australian standards?
  • What is the fuel efficiency and maintenance costs of the vehicle?
  • Why is the owner selling the vehicle?
  • Is there any room for negotiation on the price?

Inspecting the car

Before you commit to purchasing a used car, it's crucial to understand its history to avoid any potential future problems. To get a better idea of the car's condition, if you are purchasing a vehicle from a private seller, we would suggest contacting a trusted mechanic to assess its overall condition and identify any possible issues that may not be visible at first glance.

Here are some key areas that you should inspect:

  • Check the exterior and interior for signs of damage or wear and tear.
  • Look for any leaks under the vehicle.
  • Check the tires for uneven wear and tear, and ensure they have sufficient tread.
  • Test drive the vehicle to check for any unusual noises, vibrations, or handling issues.
  • Verify the mileage through an odometer rollback check.

At CMI Toyota, our trusted mechanics conduct a thorough inspection on all vehicles before they become available for sale. These inspection reports are available for every used car we have for sale. Plus, all Toyota Certified Pre-owned Vehicles purchased from CMI Toyota come with a 2-year extended warranty for added peace of mind, plus capped price servicing. 

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Additional costs associated with buying a used car

It's important to understand any additional costs or government charges that may apply to buying a used car. Some of these costs include:

  • Stamp duty. This is a tax levied on the purchase price of the car, and varies from state to state. 
  • Registration fees. These are fees charged by the government for registering the car in your name.
  • Insurance. All drivers are required to have compulsory third-party insurance (CTP), and some lenders will require comprehensive insurance to cover the amount you owed on your car should you damage it while at fault. 

Financing your used car

When purchasing a used car, financing is often a primary concern. Understanding the various financing options available in Australia can help you make an informed decision. Here are the most common options:

  • Dealership financing. Some dealerships, including CMI Toyota, offer competitive in-house financing options. This can be a convenient way to finance your used car at the time of purchase, avoiding the hassle of shopping around. CMI Toyota’s in-house finance team will work with you to find the best deal for your current situation.
  • Car loans. Many financial institutions offer car loans to help you finance your car. The loan can be ‘secured’ (requiring collateral, typically the car itself) or ‘unsecured’ (no collateral required). Secured loans generally have lower interest rates, but the lender can repossess the car if you default on your payments.
  • Personal loans. If you don't want to secure your car loan with the vehicle, you can opt for a personal loan. Personal loans typically have higher interest rates than car loans but offer more flexibility in how the funds can be used.
  • Cash. Of course, if you have enough cash on hand, you can simply pay for the car outright without any financing or loans. This can save you money on interest and fees, but it's important to consider such a large purchase on your overall financial situation.

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Registering your used car

After purchasing a used car, it's essential to register the vehicle in your state to ensure it is legally yours and meets local safety requirements. 

The registration process may differ slightly between states, but here we'll outline the general steps for registering your car in South Australia:

  1. Obtain an inspection report from an authorised examiner if the car is from interstate or unregistered.
  2. Complete an application for registration and third-party insurance, which can be downloaded from the South Australia government website.
  3. Provide proof of purchase, such as an invoice or other evidence of purchase from a motor vehicle dealership. The invoice should outline the vehicle particulars, such as make, model, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and correspond with the details provided in the application for registration. If you cannot provide proof of purchase, an identity inspection will be required.
  4. Visit a Service SA customer service centre with the completed application, inspection report (if applicable), and proof of identity.
  5. Pay the required fees, including stamp duty and registration fees.

Keep in mind that specific requirements and fees may change over time, so it's essential to visit your state's transport department website for the most up-to-date information.

When purchasing a used car from CMI Toyota, our used car team work with you to apply registration to your vehicle (should it be unregistered) and transfer ownership on your behalf, saving you the hassle of additional paperwork and a visit to ServicesSA.

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What to do after buying a used car in Australia

Congratulations on your used car purchase! Now that you have your new-to-you vehicle, there are a few essential steps to follow to ensure a smooth ownership experience. In this section, we'll cover tips for maintaining your used car and how to sell or trade it in the future.

Tips for Maintaining Your Used Car

  • Regular servicing. Adhere to the manufacturer's recommended service intervals to keep your car running smoothly. Regular oil changes, filter replacements, and inspections can help extend the life of your vehicle. Whilst CMI Toyota specialise in the service and maintenance of Toyota vehicles, it is important to note that we service all makes and models.
  • Monitor tyre pressure and wear. Check your tyre pressure regularly to ensure optimal fuel efficiency and handling. Rotate your tyres and maintain proper tyre alignment to promote even wear and prolong their life.
  • Check fluid levels. Regularly check your car's engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid levels. Top off or change fluids as needed to keep your vehicle running optimally.
  • Keep it clean. Regularly wash and wax your car to protect the paint from dirt, grime, and harmful UV rays. Clean the interior to maintain its appearance and prevent odours.
  • Address issues promptly. If you notice any unusual noises, vibrations, or warning lights, address them as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and repair can prevent more significant problems and costly repairs down the road. Contact the CMI Toyota team at your closest dealership to discuss any issues you may be experiencing with your vehicle.

How to Sell or Trade In Your Used Car in the Future

  1. Gather documentation. Collect all service records, receipts, and any other relevant documents, such as the owner's manual and warranty information. This documentation can demonstrate your car's maintenance history and increase its resale value.
  2. Prepare your car. Clean your car inside and out, and address any minor cosmetic issues, such as scratches or dents. Consider having a professional detail your car to make it more appealing to potential buyers.
  3. Determine your car's value. Research the current market value of your car by consulting online resources, such as RedBook or CarsGuide. You can also visit dealerships in person, or use online valuation tools to get an estimated value. CMI Toyota offer an easy to use online car valuation tool where you can get an instant estimated valuation of your vehicle.
  4. Decide whether to sell privately or trade-in. Evaluate the pros and cons of selling your car privately versus trading it in at a dealership. While selling privately may yield a higher price, trading in your car to a dealership like CMI Toyota, can be more convenient and save time.
  5. Advertise and negotiate. If you decide to sell privately, create an attractive and accurate advertisement for your car. Post it on popular online platforms and be prepared to negotiate with potential buyers. If you opt to trade in your car, visit multiple dealerships to get the best possible offer.

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By following these tips for maintaining and eventually selling or trading in your used car, you can ensure a positive and rewarding ownership experience.

Final thoughts

Navigating the used car market in Australia can be a rewarding experience when equipped with the right knowledge. We've covered essential aspects, from choosing between dealerships and private sellers to financing, registering, and maintaining your vehicle.
For a reliable range of quality used Toyota vehicles, be sure to visit one of CMI Toyota’s dealerships below, where an experienced used car team will be committed to helping you find the perfect car to suit your needs.

View our range of pre-owned vehicles.

West Terrace

152 West Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
(08) 8238 5555


869 Port Rd, Cheltenham SA 5014
(08) 8268 0888

Christies Beach

150 Beach Rd, Christies Beach SA 5165
(08) 8382 9000

Just some of CMI Toyota's advantages:

  • Toyota Access
  • Toyota Genuine Parts
  • Toyota Certified Advantage
  • Toyota Insurance Advantage
  • Toyota Fleet Specialist