Guidance for consumers on extreme weather events

While businesses are free to set their own prices, there has been some public concern about price increases on goods and services at this time. If you feel you’re being asked to pay too much Report price increases on Price Watch — Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Tips for buying a used car, what to check for and how to protect yourself from common problems.


What to check before buying a used car

Buying a second hand car is another option consumers can consider when purchasing a car. Use these tips and resources when you view, test drive and inspect a car before you buy it.

Use this checklist with steps to follow when buying a used car. 

Download guide: Pre-purchase checklist before buying a used car [PDF, 394 KB]

Pre-purchase checklist

1. Work out your priorities

What do you really need?

2. Check your finances

How much do you want to spend?

  • Look at how much money you have coming in and going out
  • Estimate the total cost of a car including running costs
  • If you get a loan, shop for the best interest rates and get pre-approval from a lender

3. View and test cars

Does it look and feel right?

  • Check important documents
    • Consumer Information Notice (CIN)
    • service receipts
    • current warrant of fitness (WoF)
    • current licence (rego)
  • Do basic checks
  • For used EVs, get a battery state of health (SOH) test, and check the charging cable meets safety and compatibility standards
  • Take it for a test drive

4. Call in the experts

Does everything stack up?

5. Before you sign on the dotted line

Are you getting the best deal?

  • Be wary of any offers too good to be true
  • Calculate car’s true cost if you borrow
  • Make sure any add-ons, eg extended warranties and accessories, are worth it
  • Read any contracts or agreements carefully

6. Let’s go

How can you get on the road?

  • Let Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency know you bought a car
  • Safeguard yourself with insurance
  • Stay road worthy with regular servicing and current WoF and licence (rego)
  • Save sales documents and service receipts, CIN notices and all other related paperwork to avoid problems

Protect yourself from common problems

Here are some additional elements to check – and risks to be aware of when buying a used car:

A Consumer Information Notice (CIN) provides information about a used motor vehicle’s history. It includes:

  • details about the seller
  • Information on previous owners including if there is any money owing on the car
  • details about whether or not the car was imported as damaged vehicle
  • the total price to get the vehicle on the road

Motor vehicle traders must attach an accurate and reliable Consumer Information Notice (CIN) to any second-hand vehicle, where the transaction takes place. They also have to provide you with a copy of the CIN, and ask you to sign it when you buy a used vehicle.

If you have problems with the vehicle later on, the CIN provides evidence of the details you received when you bought the vehicle.

Private car sales don’t need a CIN.

Visual guide: What’s most important to check on a CIN

If there is money owing on a vehicle you purchase then you risk losing it – whether or not the security interest is disclosed. A security interest is the right a finance company has to repossess a borrower’s belongings, eg their car, if the borrower does not pay back their loan.

So, before you buy a car, make sure you check if there is any money owing on it.

You can find out if there is a valid security interest registered on the vehicle by using the PPSR mobile-friendly search.

PPSR mobile-friendly search(external link) – Personal Property Securities Register

If the used vehicle you want to buy is being sold ‘as is, where is’, the seller might not have checked the car’s quality.

Ask if there are any defects and be thorough with pre-purchase inspections. Buying a car ‘as is, where is’ from a private seller can leave you with fewer legal protections, because people selling privately don’t have to comply with the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) or Fair Trading Act (FTA).

Motor vehicle traders, e.g. car dealers are required to comply with these. A dealer can’t use ‘as is, where is’ to opt out of their obligations to you.

When the car you want is too far away, you might be tempted to buy it without seeing it and have it delivered. This is risky but if you know what you’re getting into, you can make an informed decision.