It's always exciting to buy and upgrade your car. But where do you start, and how do you know the car you’re looking at is even reliable?

No car buyer wants to find out that they’ve paid more for a car than it is actually worth, nor do they want to fork out cash on repairs for a car they’ve only just bought. There are several things that you can consider to help avoid instant regret after purchasing a vehicle.

Do your research

If you want to ensure that you’re getting value for money and not being ripped off, then make sure you shop around - researching what else is out there is a great place to start.

Check online and look at other examples of the same vehicle that you’re considering. Compare their condition, age, price and mileage in comparison to the example that you’re interested in. If you can find something that’s better than what you’re looking at, then you may want to re-think your options.

Check the car out and go for a test drive

It goes without saying that these days you can make anything look acceptable in a photo. Images used for advertising a vehicle might make it look like a Ferrari, when in reality they’re trying to sell an old banger.

Checking the car out in person and thoroughly examining its condition will help you get an idea if everything is as it seems.

Taking it for a drive will also allow you to get a feel for the car, including its handling, transmission and whether it’s what you’re after. We recommend asking in advance if the seller is able to sanitise the car so you can do this – if not, we suggest taking your own sanitising towels along.

Get an independent, expert inspection

Before buying a used car, we always recommend booking an AA Pre-Purchase Vehicle inspection (also known as a ‘PPI’).

Car repair bills are often unexpected and can leave you out of pocket, and a thorough inspection can uncover secrets of a vehicle’s past that you can’t spot yourself. This gives you some reassurance, knowing that you’re buying a reliable car before you handover your hard-earned money.

AA Members can book an AA Pre Purchase Inspections for $184 (a saving of $25). 

AA Preferred Dealer Network

An AA Preferred Dealer is a Motor Vehicle Trader that has been certified to meet our standards of quality. We recommend that anyone looking to buy a used car visits an AA Preferred Dealer. Our series of checks on used cars gives drivers peace of mind that the used car they’re interested in buying isn’t hiding any secrets.

An AA Preferred Dealer means the AA has been involved every step of the way. From getting the car AA Odometer Verified before the car departs for our shores, to getting AA Entry Compliance at our borders to having an AA Appraisal at the used car yard.

Get peace of mind – purchase your next car from an AA Preferred Dealer. Keep an eye out for the AA Preferred Dealer sign.

Visit for more information.

Find out the car’s full history

Cars that have records of consistent servicing have usually been well maintained by their owners, so buying a car with a reliable servicing history will give you further reassurance that the car you’re interested in is unlikely to need any immediate repairs.

An AA Vehicle History Report scans through 3 million records covering cars, vans, trucks, motorbikes, caravans and trailers, making it easy to check almost any vehicle in NZ.

AA Members can purchase a comprehensive history online for only $18.95. Purchase online here at AA Vehicle History Report.

Find out the car’s true value

An AA Vehicle Valuation Report checks the market price of virtually any make and model of car in New Zealand to ensure that you’re paying a fair market value when buying a new car. It will also specify the mileage, condition, petrol consumption and emissions rating of the car, giving you an idea of how much the running costs will be.

AA Members can purchase an AA Vehicle Valuation Report online for $19.95. Purchase online here at AA Vehicle Valuation Report.

Get total peace of mind

For complete peace of mind when purchasing a used car, it’s worthwhile purchasing both a vehicle valuation and vehicle history report together.

AA Members can select the option to purchase both reports online when purchasing their AA Vehicle History Report for a bundle price of just $34.85.  

AA Expert advice

If you’re an AA Member, then you can take advantage of our free AA Expert advice service.

Our friendly AA Motoring experts are passionate about cars, and can offer you all the advice you need when buying a car.

If you’re stuck on which car to buy, or you’re worried about inherent problems with certain makes and models of cars, our team is here to help.

AA Members can either email at, or call 0800 500 333.

We’re here for you

When buying a second-hand car, you ultimately want to avoid paying out more in the long run. You can do this by taking your time before making a decision, then making the right choice based upon your needs.

Following these steps will help give you some idea about what to look out for, but our team at the AA are here if you need that little bit of extra help to help protect yourself and your family.

Happy car hunting!

AA Money Logo

If you would like a quote on a loan with a competitive interest rate and no ongoing account fees to purchase your vehicle, apply through AA Money here*.

AA Members receive a discounted establishment fee upon providing a valid AA Membership number at the time of application.

*Normal lending criteria, terms, conditions and fees apply.

AA Insurance logo

AA Insurance offer three different levels of car insurance, so you can choose the best cover for your needs and budget - Comprehensive, Third Party, Fire & Theft, and Third Party.

Tell us if you’re a personal AA Member and you can receive a discount on selected policies based on how long you’ve been a Member.

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