The Definitive Guide to Buying a Used Car in New Zealand- Finding a Vehicle


Buying a used car is not the scary proposition it once used to be. With online car auction sites you can purchase a used car anywhere in NZ. You can access all the information you need to quickly make the best decision to obtain the best used car for your money. Of course, you’ll need to do your due diligence throughout the process to make sure you buy a reliable model and a get a vehicle loan that you can afford from a NZ finance company.

Once you become the new owner of a nice set of wheels, you’ll enjoy driving your car on Wellington, Porirua or Kapiti roads. At the end of ten years, a car will still hold 20 per cent of its value. That means you can get good value out of a five-year old car if you drive it for more than this period. Replacement part costs on a well-maintained pre-owned vehicle can work out cheaper than the depreciation costs on a new car.

The First Step: Inspecting a Pre-Owned Car

It is critical that you inspect the car thoroughly to ensure that it is in decent shape and have it professionally checked by your mechanic or a car inspection service. Both will perform their legal obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Test drive

Take the vehicle out for a spin to gauge how it drives and also to discover any problem areas. If you’re dissatisfied with the test drive, you can move onto a different vehicle immediately.

Test the car on the open road as well as on sloped and hilly terrain to check the brakes, transmission and engine performance. If it’s drizzling or raining outside this allows you to check the wipers and tyres in wet conditions and identify any potential problems.


A complete inspection can only be done by a professional. It will cost you anywhere from $100 to $120. This amount is worth the investment after you apply for car finance in Wellington.

 Want to inspect the car yourself? Here are some key components to check for:
  • Check for rust on the car’s exterior, panels under the doors and wheel wells.
  • Observe if the car is sitting level at the front and rear. During the test drive, see if there is a jarring impact, bounce or if the steering feels loose – as this may indicate a suspension problem from extended road use.
  • Inspect the lenses and reflectors for obvious signs of damage, moisture fog or is missing altogether.
  • Check the odometer hasn’t been tampered with. Original tyres typically last up to 60,000 miles. New tyres on a car with an odometer showing 30,000 miles are a cause for suspicion. If you suspect that the odometer may have been wound back, see what the Consumer Information Notice (CIN) says.
  • Test out interior comfort. If a mouldy or mildew smell emanates from the interior or the trunk, it could point to a water leak. Scrutinize the upholstery for damage and see if the seats can be adjusted for a comfortable driving and seating position.
  • Turn on the air-conditioning and radio to ensure the heating, airconditioning and sound system is to your liking.
  • Check under the hood using the vehicle owner’s manual for guidance. Components to check for include hoses and belts, transmission fluid, engine fluid, radiator and battery.


Whether you’re buying from a dealership or private seller, don’t hesitate to ask questions that can help you form an accurate opinion about the car. Besides inquiring about the number of miles on the vehicle, and its exterior, interior and standard equipment, also ask the following questions:

  1. “Can you describe the car’s overall condition?” The seller can reveal something that you may not have considered. It also doesn’t hurt to ask a private seller his/her reason for selling the car. It will give you clues about the authenticity of the seller and the reliability of the car.
  2. “Has the car ever been involved in an accident?” If the damage is cosmetic, you don’t have to worry. But think twice if the accident has caused unseen structural damage or issues with the engine or suspension. An inspection by a mechanic will alert you to these problems.
  3. “Has the vehicle been repaired as part of a safety recall?” For safety reasons and to accurately calculate the car loan amount needed, enquire if the vehicle has been recalled or if the work is still pending.
 After you are convinced that the car is mechanically robust, the next step is to arrange finance. If you are looking for car loans in Porirua, Kapiti or Wellington – contact the Oxford Finance team at for a free car finance quote today.

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