Buying guide

Car buying checklist

Our car buyers checklist will tell you the most important steps in the buying process.

Whether you’re buying a car from a private seller or buying from a dealer, our car buyers checklist will tell you the most important steps in the buying process. You don’t need to follow it exactly, but hopefully it makes buying a car a little easier!

Visual inspection

Making sure to visually check the car is very important.

  • Check the exterior – look for rust, bubbling paintwork, scratches, chips in the windscreen and panels or doors that don’t line up.
  • Inside – look for damp areas or water damage. Sit in all the seats and check they’re comfortable. Make sure there aren’t any questionable smells.
  • Engine – If you have any mechanical knowledge, look for cracks or wear.
  • Paperwork – Check the paperwork is up to date and ask the seller if there are any other details you should know.
  • Try the lights, electric windows, sunroof and mirrors, heater/air conditioner, radio and anything else that could be faulty.

Test drive checklist

The next step is taking a test drive! This allows you to check for any signs of trouble. Make sure you remember to:

  • Check the registration and Warrant of Fitness are up to date – if not, you could be fined while testing.
  • If it’s being sold privately, check that the owner’s insurance covers you.
  • On the test drive, try the car on a hill, urban roads and the motorway to check performance.
  • On the road, feel how the car handles corners and take note of any noises, squeaky brakes, burning smells, vibrations, fumes or anything else that seems strange.

Credentials checklist

  • Pre-purchase inspection – unless you’re a mechanic or know lots about cars, you should get a professional mechanical check. Use a professional company such as VTNZ.
  • Vehicle Information Report (VIR) – look into getting a VIR to find out the car's legal status and registered history. It’ll tell you whether the car has money owing, current mileage, if it’s stolen and more.

Congratulations, you bought a new vehicle! But now what?

Paperwork will need to be completed when you buy a car. This may include:

  • Change of ownership
  • Car insurance
  • Vehicle licensing (rego)
  • Warrant of Fitness (WoF)
  • Road User Charges for diesel vehicles (RUC)
  • Registration

Our buyers checklist has lots of helpful tips for buying a car. Now you know what to expect, it's time to think about what car fits your life best. No need to stress, we’re here to help you each step of the way.