Used car buying guide

Hooray - you've found a vehicle you want to buy! But should you buy it – and what do you do next?

Our used car buying guide is designed to help you navigate through the process of buying a car so you can make the right decision. Keep reading for helpful advice on what to look for when buying a car, car finance, car insurance, as well as the various documents you are likely to encounter as you go about buying the car of your dreams.

Here are 4 steps to making it your own.

1. Car finance 

If you're not a cash buyer, then you’re not alone. 80% of car buyers purchase their car on finance. AA Money offers car finance between 12 and 60 months, with competitive interest rates from a brand you trust. Use our car loan repayments calculator to work out the monthly repayments that suit you. And if you’d like to start exploring your options, our online application process is easy – with an approval decision normally within 2 to 3 hours.

Repayments calculator

Apply online

2. Car inspections, valuations and history checks

You'll need to learn as much as you can about the car before you buy it. Check out the car's history, the value of the car and the overall condition of the car before you decide to buy it. The AA can help you at each stage.

With the vehicle's history, the key questions you'll want to answer are:

  • Is there finance owing on the vehicle?
  • Is it stolen?
  • Was the car imported in a damaged state?
  • Has its odometer been wound back?

This information is available in an AA Vehicle History report.

For buyers and sellers to get an idea of a fair market price (while taking the condition of the vehicle into account) get an AA Vehicle Valuation report.

To get an independent and unbiased opinion of the condition of the vehicle get an AA Pre Purchase Inspection report. We can conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle so you won’t have any unforeseen surprises.

Book a Pre Purchase Inspection Buy a Vehicle History report Buy a Vehicle Valuation report

3. Car insurance 

Once the purchase is complete, we recommend you insure your car. AA Insurance offers three different insurance options:


With comprehensive car insurance, in the event of an accident, AA Insurance will cover the damage caused to your own car, as well as the damage caused to other people's cars or property.

Third party

Third party car insurance is a basic level of cover where AA Insurance will pay for the costs of repairing the others' cars or property where you're at fault in an accident.

Third party fire and theft extension

You can choose to extend your third party cover to protect your vehicle if it's stolen or damaged through fire or theft.

Comprehensive Third party Third party fire & theft

4. Documents 

Dealing with the paperwork is an important part of the car buying process. There are some documents that you need to deal with.

Warrant of Fitness (WoF)

A vehicle for sale by a dealer must have a current (less than one month old) warrant of fitness. The same applies for private sellers, unless you and the buyer agree in writing.

If you need to get a warrant of fitness (WoF) for the vehicle, the AA can help. Find a location.

Consumer information notice (CIN)

A dealer must complete and attach a CIN card to every motor vehicle displayed for sale. This provides information about the vehicle. The dealer must provide you with a copy of the CIN. This gives you basic and necessary details about your new car.

Certificate of registration

The certificate of registration lists the current registered owner of the vehicle. Check this against the identity of the person selling the vehicle.

The AA can help with your vehicle registration and licence needs. Find a location.

Sale agreement

A dealer must provide you with a vehicle sale agreement. Make sure you read it thoroughly and understand it before signing.

Change of ownership

Registration of ownership simply defines who is responsible for the vehicle, in particular for paying licensing fees and fines. As part of the process of purchasing a vehicle both buyer and seller must complete change of ownership documentation. This can be done online through the NZTA website or at an AA Centre.

Alternatively, the seller completes the certificate of registration form (or an MR13A); the buyer completes form MR13B. These forms are available from NZTA agents like AA Centres or AA Vehicle Testing stations.

Loan agreement

If you apply for a loan the lender must provide you the terms of the loan agreement in writing in the form of a disclosure statement. This tells you the length of the loan, payment amount and frequency and also confirms the interest rates and any fees that may apply to the loan.

Insurance policy

When you purchase insurance your insurer will provide you with details of the cover provided, written in plain English, in an insurance policy document.