CarHistory warns of private sale pitfalls

Almost one in four privately sold used cars on the Australian market hides a potentially serious issue, says a report by report.

Almost a quarter of used cars on the market that underwent a vehicle history check in 2015 were hiding a potentially serious issue. This alarming statistic was gleaned from the analysis of 154,035 reports from, the country’s first online automotive bureau, and part of credit agency Veda.

Up to 1.2 million Australians are set to buy a used car in the next 12 months, yet CarHistory’s research found that fewer than half understand the need to do anything beyond a basic mechanical check before making a purchase.

CarHistory research showed only one in four (28%) recent used car buyers undertook a mechanical check before purchase, and less than half considered checking for issues such as past accidents, finance owing, or fraudulent incidents, including flood damage, re-birthing and odometer wind-backs.

Moire worrying is the fact that 22.2% of used cars that underwent a CarHistory vehicle check last year received a negative report, illustrating that tens of thousands of Australians were at risk of buying an encumbered vehicle, or a lemon, and finding themselves out of pocket to the tune of about $3000 in repairs.

Izzy Silva at Veda, who helped compile the data for spoke to AutoTalk around the findings and states: “Many of our customers are reputable dealers and brokers and conduct the necessary car history checks to help protect themselves from issues that may not otherwise surface, such as odometer windbacks, write-offs, finance owing, stolen status, etc.

“The research we conducted concentrated more on the private seller market rather than the dealer side. However, the research also shows that there is a negative connotation towards dealers. But there are many reputable dealers that do conduct all the appropriate checks,” Silva adds.

CarHistory pic 2“Also, from a dealer’s perspective it comes with benefits such as a warranty, whereas from a private perspective you are on your own. You can feel a lot safer with a dealer rather than buying from someone you haven’t met before. From a dealer perspective there are a number of protective measures in place, and it doesn’t hurt to ask the dealer if they have a history report.

Silva said the prospect of buying a second hand car was daunting for many people, and with good reason.

“CarHistory’s research revealed that very few people feel truly confident when buying a used car. In fact, only 29% of buyers said they are very confident about the process,” Silva adds.

“Relevant vehicle checks can help give people peace of mind and bolster their confidence when buying a used car. However, most people don’t consider what can go wrong beyond mechanical issues, leaving themselves at risk of being sold a lemon.”

In 2015, 12.8% of used cars on the market had an encumbrance (money owed on the vehicle) making this the most common pitfall picked up by CarHistory. In addition, one in 10 cars (9.3%) checked by CarHistory in 2015 had previously been written off.

“No matter how genuine the seller seems, it’s important to know all you can about your car’s past to make an educated decision about whether it’s a smart buy,” Silva says.

“Australians spend on average $13,000-$14,000 buying a used car, and an average of 13 hours on the researching, checking and buying process.

“In comparison, the average out-o-pocket cost of a bad used car purchase is $2000-$3000. This equates to 20% of the average purchase amount – a high price to pay, and often one that could have been avoided by checking the vehicle’s history,” he adds.

Overpower dishonest sellers

The lack of thorough vehicle history checks is putting used car buyers at risk from being duped by sellers who don’t disclose the truth about a car’s history.

Silva said the lack of awareness amongst consumers of more in-depth vehicle history checks was leaving people out of pocket and potentially putting their safety at risk.

The research also reveals that many private used car sellers have, at some stage, sold a car they knew had a potential issue. Some of these issues could have potentially had dire consequences.

“While two-thirds (67%) of Aussies want to know their prospective new car’s history before purchasing, only one in three (32%) are aware that they can undertake a CarHistory or vehicle history check,” says Silva.

“Instead of relying solely on the opinion of a friend or family member, we encourage people to dig a little deeper and use a service like CarHistory to get more information about a car’s potential pitfalls – like finance owing, write-offs and odometer wind-backs – before signing on the dotted line.

“A car is a big purchase, and one that people want to get right the first time. In terms of financial investment, lost time, and personal wellbeing, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

“It’s always in the sellers interest to present the product in the best possible light, but consumers must do everything to protect themselves before they hand over their hard earnt cash.

“With any big ticket item you sometimes need to take things into your own hands and make sure you protect yourself.

“Going to trusted sources of information, or someone that knows about cars, as well as, doing a mechanical check on the car. As a final step doing the car history check will enable you to have full understanding of what type of car your are purchasing.”

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