Buying Guide: Make Your Decision The Right One

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1. Set a realistic budget

Decide how much you can afford to pay, and do your best to stick to it! Remember that while many older prestige and sports cars have finished depreciating and, in some cases may be appreciating, to maintain its value you must be able to afford maintenance, repair and running costs. Contact car clubs associated with the make you are interested in, as well as local repairers, and try to determine future repairs and maintenance costs, as well as parts availability and costs.

2. View the car in daylight

View the car in clear daylight and take a friend to confirm what you see. Do not arrange to meet at a service station or have the seller bring the car to you. While your at it, check the seller's address is the same as that recorded in the logbook and seek additional reassurance that the seller lives where they claim to.

3. Ask for, and check, all paperwork

Check that all documentation supports the claims of the seller. At the very least this will include registration and insurance paperwork. Where possible, review receipts for work carried out and establish that regular servicing was completed at the manufacturers required intervals. Many older and unique cars are sold with claims that many thousands have been spent on the car. The paperwork should support this.

4. A professional inspection usually pays for itself

An independent inspection (by your State or Territory Motoring Service) will help to identify potentially expensive mechanical problems and can also spot the signs of major accident repair. Their report will either give you greater confidence that the vehicle is a good buy, tell you to walk away, or provide the basis for negotiating a price that takes into account the additional costs necessary for rectification work. If the seller won't allow an inspection, walk away.
5. Remember, 1 in 5 vehicles are damaged each year

Nearly 1 in 5 vehicles require bodywork each year - and given the age of most classic and unique cars chances are some work has been done. Never assume a car is free from major accident damage and, if in doubt as to the quality of repairs always seek independant advice.
6. Look for signs of clocking

Reducing the clicks of a vehicle by turning back the odometer, or 'clocking', is a common trick used by unscrupulous sellers to obtain a higher price. Check the log books and service intervals to ensure the numbers add up. Then examine steering wheels, gearshift and seats for excessive wear, and look outside for stone chips. These rules also apply to restored cars.

7. Take a varied test drive (make sure you’re insured!)

Make sure that you test drive the car on a range of roads for a drive of at least 10-15 kilometres. Check you are properly insured and take a friend with you. Look and listen carefully for rattles, creaks and banging noises. Watch for smoky start ups (especially blue smoke). Pay special attention to the steering, and check for wandering and pulling under braking, bearing in mind that wide tires can make cars more sensitive to white lines and camber changes.

8. If you’re unhappy – walk away

Try not to get emotionally attached to the car, even though it may be exactly the right make and model you have been searching for. Don't let the paintwork, engine or price blind you to aspects of a car that don't add up. And always remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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