If you're buying a used car online, there are definitely some golden rules you want to know about before taking the leap.
Ever since I was a little girl, I helped my dad with his cars in the garage; fixing them, doing them up and going shopping for the next one. I’ve always loved and had a fascination with them.
So when it comes to buying a used car for our family of 8 (plus 2 dogs), I like to take a hands-on approach.
With 6 kids to ferry around, food shopping to be done, sports teams to carpool and weekend adventures to pack for, we certainly have some very specific needs when we are looking for our “new” used car.
I love to deep-dive on my research basically for any purchase for our family. I make it into a project that needs completing, to find the best possible option at the best price.
For our family car though, of course, above all: I want it to know I’m getting a safe car (and for an absolute catch of a price).
We’ve always bought used cars; from when my husband and I were a young couple, to having 2 kids, 3 kids.... and now 6 kids. We’ve always upgraded as we’ve needed more room with used cars, so that’s always been our preference to buy second-hand.
There’s a bit of a knack for making sure you’re getting your hands on a great one (and not a lemon). As 6 is clearly our family’s lucky number, here are my top 6 ways to do so.
1. Find a provider to do everything in one place.
When I finally get to sit down to investigate cars online at 11pm (once all kids are in bed, and the house/life admin is reset again), I really don’t want to be organising a loan from one company, trying to organise visits to physical used car places across our surrounding suburbs, and have to coordinate all aspects from different vendors.
Cut out all the middlemen I say, and streamline. How else do you think we coordinate 6 kids under the one roof? Streamline everything.
You want to shop from one website that can tick all your boxes: for me, it's getting a car loan at the same place that I buy my car, and have them deliver it, just like anything else I'd buy online.
I barely have the time to spend hours researching, inspecting and buying a car, let alone speak to what feels like 23 people about it.
So in my experience, finding a place that does it all (and does it well) is the ultimate time-saver and stress-reliever. I can definitely recommend CARS24 on that front: they're an Australian team that operate 100% online, and cleverly have a Big Family Cars section on their website which was basically built for me, so I can search relevant cars with all the seats and space we're needing.
They show you everything you could possibly want to see and know about the car online, and deliver your car straight to your door, so no wasting weekends required traipsing through car yards to find The One.
2. Knuckle down on specifics.
You can’t do enough research, really. Put that search bar to good use and check off all your specifics: how many seats, how much fuel consumption and how many kilometres it’s already collected.
I'm kind of like that friend who can track someone down on Facebook in 10 minutes except with cars and details: I want to know EXACTLY what I'm getting.
When I search for used cars, I want to compare prices, get a really close look at interior and exterior photos, and find several car options to cross compare all at the same time.
My non-negotiables right now are that I want low kilometres, 8 seats, boot space for days with the back row up, and preferably just the one previous owner.
So I'm not asking for much really... right?
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Get as specific as you can, as after all, you know exactly how you use your car.
On CARS24 their car details are next level. I want extensive photos without having to message and ask for more, and they offer them upfront in spades. No one wants to be catfished with a car.
3. Shop with who you trust.
We work super hard; I myself have 2 jobs and my husband works 6 days a week. When it comes time to buy a car for our family that decision doesn’t come lightly.
I want to know that our gorgeous kids are getting into a safe car and one we plan on keeping for a long time. I want to know that our hard earned money is going into a car that is not only going to last but that I trust.
So how do you know if it’s trusted app or website? Take a look at online reviews, dive into how previous users have experienced their service, and if you can, the frequency of turned-over stock.
This is where CARS24 was a huge tick for me. Not only do they have a 5 star Google rating and a friendly team willing to help, they also have a bunch of great guides that offer clear advice. I always feel reassured that making a purchase from them will be the right choice for us.
4. Safety, safety, safety. Eyeball those checks.
Now this is a non-negotiable for me. I wouldn’t buy any used car that had not been safety tested.
Most days, all 8 of us in the family are in the car at least once per day, so safety is of the utmost importance when every row, every seat and every strap is used on a daily basis; our cars really get their workout!
I would only ever shop with places that comply with doing a 300 point check. Now you’ll see this a lot online but what exactly does it mean?
This process involves highly skilled technicians that check and test every aspect of the used car. They ensure that it meets a 300 roadworthy check point, including the interior, exterior and engine.
As CARS24 themselves own all the cars on offer, so they won’t sell cars that don’t pass their 300 point inspection (so no lemons in sight). That would give any parent the biggest peace of mind every time they're hopping behind the wheel with kids strapped in behind them.
5. Check that fine print (the returns policy and warranty).
There'll always be hiccups in life we just didn't see coming. So when shopping for a used car, knowing there's a decent returns policy in place is so important.
You could have done everything right, and the car checked all your boxes, and still end up with something not quite right for your lifestyle or family's needs when you're actually using it.
CARS24 has a 7 day return option (so basically a week to "test drive” it in person, with a 100% money-back guarantee if it's not a perfect match), and a 6 month warranty.
I love to get my family mechanic to double check every used car we buy, and this gives us the chance to do just that.
Also, I’m not saying my kids break things. But I’m also not saying that a healthy warranty period doesn't go astray, just in case.
(To be frank, I don’t want anything less than 6 months warranty even on a slow cooker! So on a car? Imperative.)
6. Sort finance before browsing.
You want to know what you're working with. Work out your monthly budget and what you can afford to spend. It’s good to go into buying your used car knowing how much you've got to play with, before (mentally or actually) spending it.
Buying a car is stressful enough, you’ve just done all the hard work finding the right car for your family. So, you want to be equipped with a realistic budget from the start.
CARS24 have a 5-minute pre-approval process, so I'm only a few clicks away from getting this sorted so the fun part can actually begin: finding the car (and liaising with my panel of 7 other judges that are my husband and kids.)
And that’s it! You’ve done it.
Hopefully now, you can tick all the boxes, and be several steps closer to get your 4-wheeled beauty delivered right to your door.
Our last used car we bought has lasted us almost 10 years, and we have gotten our use out of it, tenfold! In my opinion, used car shopping online is the only way to go. We've had such positive experiences shopping used, with our next to come from CARS24.
If I can pass on any tips on finding your next dream car quicker too, then my work here is done.
The future of used car buying has arrived with CARS24. Buy your next used car from the comfort of your couch. The smarter way to buy used.
Feature Image: Instagram/@eightathome