Check the vehicle history
Car dealers must make sure the vehicle is not registered as stolen. The Consumer Information Notice (CIN) in the car window must also state if there is still money owing on the car.
If you buy from a private seller, you can find out if:
- the car has been registered as a stolen on New Zealand Police’s Stolen Vehicles database
- there’s still money owing on the car by using the Personal Property Security Register’s mobile friendly search.
Stolen vehicles(external link) — New Zealand Police
PPSR mobile-friendly search(external link) – Personal Property Securities Register
No matter who you buy from, you may want to consider double-checking the information the seller has given to you. There are a number of vehicle history report providers online. For most of these services, you enter the plate number or vehicle identification number (VIN) to get a comprehensive report on:
- the ownership history
- previous damage
- money owing
- any inconsistent odometer readings.
Some of these services are free or charge a small fee.
Getting a vehicle inspection
If your basic checks, test drive and history checks go well, the next step is to arrange for the vehicle to be inspected by a professional mechanic.
If the car is electric or an uncommon make/model, eg European, arrange to have it inspected by a mechanic experienced with that type of vehicle.
The best way to avoid a problem is to get the car inspected by a mechanic or pre-purchase vehicle inspection service — particularly if you are buying from a private seller.
Some car dealers will sort this for you with their preferred mechanic — though it may be beneficial to get this done yourself to get an independent report.
An inspection is even more important when you buy from a private seller. You have fewer consumer rights if there’s a fault or problem with the car after purchase.
If everything checks out and you’re keen to buy the car, make sure you consider any special offers and read all sales paperwork carefully.
Read more about car sales agreements and warranties