The benefits of buying a used car

So why do so many people in New Zealand choose to buy a used car instead of a new car? Because buying used comes with many benefits compared to buying new, which we’ve outlined below!

Lower cost

Easily the biggest advantage of buying a used car is the cost. You’ll save a massive amount of money buying a used car rather than a new model. Car values depreciate as soon as the leave the dealership, lowering an average of 20% in value after the first year and 15% after the second year.

Additional costs like taxes, insurance, registration fees, dealer fees, and maintenance fees are all typically higher for new cars than for used cars, so savings are made across the board.

Therefore, you can save big bucks by choosing second-hand – even used cars that are only a year or two old are much cheaper to buy! Yes, used cars also depreciate but because your initial outlay is much lower, you’re losing less money over time.

Built to last

Buying a used car is no longer a case of purchasing a very old model that has limited life left, so it is less of a risk for the buyer. Modern cars are all built to last more than ten years, so buying a used car that a just a few years old means that you can expect it to last.

This gives the modern buyer the peace of mind that buying second hand is no longer the risk it once was. Yes, if you buy a very old used car then it may not last, but most vehicles made in the last 5 years will have plenty of kilometres left in the engine.

Options to suit

Used cars are big business here in New Zealand, with thousands of models available from all the top vehicle manufacturers. For instance, our proximity to Japan means we have an abundance of high-quality used cars from Japanese manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda etc.

Whether you want a petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric car, the used car market has an abundance of makes and models to suit all preferences and budgets.

FAQs asked by used car shoppers

People are uncertain about many things when buying a used car, so here a some of the most frequently asked questions we receive!

Easily the biggest concern when buying a used car, you are responsible for issues that arise after buying, but there are ways to minimise the risk of any problems. Always get the car tested and do your homework on what models are susceptible to faults to avoid problematic models.

Yes! There are many newer models that are available for much less money due to kilometres on the odometer. For instance, models made from 2010-2013 are around six to eight years old with an average mileage of 50,000km, allowing you to get a recent model in good condition for a great price.

It’s mostly down to personal preferences. Used manual cars are more common and affordable here in New Zealand, while most enjoy the engagement they offer when driving. Others prefer the fuel efficiency of automatics while they’re also easier to sell again.

It depends on your situation. Doing so will increase the running costs of the car but also offer protection should a fault arise in the future. Given that used cars are more susceptible to problems, extended warranties are a good investment for most, otherwise expensive repairs that occur are going to cost a lot to fix.

You should always shop around for insurance before you buy anything to get an idea of prices for makes and models. Insurance will be cheaper and there are many great deals available, so be sure to shop around for the best offer.

There are two options, you can either sell privately or trade-in with the dealership to put towards your purchase. Selling private requires more time and effort but will net you the most money for your car. Dealerships remove much of the hassle of attempting to sell the car but might not get you as much cash as you hoped. 

Best places to buy a used car in New Zealand

There are currently two main places you can buy a used car from in New Zealand – private sellers or a used dealership. Each have their pros and cons so be sure to think about what benefits are most suitable for your situation! 

Used car dealer

Used car dealers are found throughout New Zealand. These businesses are fully regulated, requiring registration with the Motor Vehicles Trading Registrar, typically having dozens of different makes and models available While buying a used car from a dealership is more expensive than a private seller, there are certain guarantees in place that make safer for buyers.




The most popular way of selling used cars in New Zealand is private sales. This is basically when you buy a car directly from another person without any involving any dealership. A huge benefit of this type of sale is that the car is almost always cheaper than a dealership, although fewer protections are in place for the buyer.



Tips for buying a used car in New Zealand

If you are considering buying a used car in New Zealand be sure to follow these tips to make sure that you get the best deal possible:

Do your homework first

Never go into a dealership without knowing what type of car you need! Do some research on makes and models that are suitable for your circumstances. For instance, is the car for a specific purpose like commuting to work in a city, a family car, or long-distance driving? How many seats do you need? Do you want a hybrid or petrol car?

Asking these questions gives you an idea of what options are available, after which you can research specific models and buying tips for each one. Research the durability of the model, whether there are common faults, average running costs etc.

Google is your friend here – type the make and mode model into the search engine followed by keywords such as ‘faults’ or ‘problems’, as you’ll get a good idea of the things other owners have dealt with. 

Set a budget

Setting a budget is also recommended when buying a used car, as this makes it easier to get a deal with that is on your terms rather than the dealership, helping to avoid being upsold anything you don’t want or need.

Remember, the initial fee is not the entire cost of the purchase, as you’ll have running costs, maintenance, and other fees to pay. Establish what you need to pay and work out what you can afford in monthly payments.

Know what to expect

Having realistic expectations is important when buying a used car. For instance, the newer the model you want the more it is going to cost, while older models are going to be cheaper but require more repairs down the line.

Also, bear in mind that many dealerships are going to try and sell you more than what you need. To find a good dealership, check online reviews and ask friends for recommendations.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

Negotiating isn’t commonplace in New Zealand, leading many buyers to avoid bargaining with a used car dealer for a good price. Never make this mistake, as car dealers have plenty of leeway when it comes to negotiating a deal.

Therefore, doing research is highly recommended, as it puts you in a better negotiating position. For instance, research competitor prices, carefully look over the car for signs of imperfections to drive the price down, ask for some freebies or extra discounts – don’t let them hold all the cards! 

Step-by-step guide to buying from a
used car dealer in New Zealand

Start by checking out some makes and models you’re interested in buying. Draw up a list of possible candidates and then conduct some research on each one. Compare prices, running costs, possible faults that develop and anything else that may influence your decision.

We recommend narrowing down your final choices to three car types that are within your price range.

Once you have decided on a few options, start looking a price variations of each make and model. Used car dealerships are a great place to compare prices, while searching for private sales is also recommended. This should help get a close estimation on the overall price of the cars.

See what dealerships are nearby to your location and then it’s a case of visiting each one to try and secure the best deal possible.

When you walk into a dealership the car dealer will do a lot talking. But as the customer you have plenty of talking to do on your own, so always make sure to ask them lots of questions to get plenty of information on the car.

Ask about the following:

  • Warrant of fitness (WOF)
  • The previous owner
  •  Service history
  •  Total kilometres on odometer
  • Are there any faults?
  • Has it been involved in any accidents?
  • What is included with the price?
  • What is the warranty?

Now it’s time to determine the overall condition of the car before you buy it. There are various checks you should always make before purchasing a used vehicle to ensure it is the best condition possible.

  • Mileage – An average yearly mileage of 15,000 km is a good rule of thumb for a used car. Determine how many km the car has clocked and measure it against the 15,000 km average. For example, if the car is 5 years old and has a mileage above 75,000 km, you should ask for more info. Also, asking for a report of the last service will show the exact mileage. 
  •  Accident History – Was the car ever involved in an auto accident? If so, determine the extent of the accident and any repairs completed as a result of it. 
  • Car Condition – Look over the entire car from top to bottom and lool for any signs of damage, including surface damage like scratches, dents, chips, cracks etc. Take a photo if a specific area is giving you cause for concern. 
  • Inspect Any Repairs – Repairs are common in used vehicles but not all are done well. If repairs were completed, check the area to see how good the repairs were, as low-quality repairs may need addressing in the future. 
  • Engine Inspection – Don’t worry if you don’t know much about a car engine, you’re looking for signs of damage or possible problems that may arise. Check for leakages, loose components, rusting etc. Check the engine oil too! 
  • Lights – Make sure all lights work.
  • Electronics – Make sure all electronics work (radio, air conditioning, windows etc.). 
  • Storage Space – Is there enough storage space in the car boot for your needs? 
  • Tyres – Check the inflation and tread wear to see if they may need replacing.

You should always look to test drive any used car before you buy it. There are a few things to look for when driving the car, so complete the checklist below to make sure it is in suitable condition.

  •  Comfort – You want to be comfortable in the driver’s seat. Make sure it feels right, the seat is adjustable, clearly see every mirror, and whether you can reach the steering wheel, handbrake, gearstick, and pedals. 
  • Passenger Seats – Check the condition of the passenger seats and that all seatbelts work. Sit in it for a moment to see how comfortable it is, especially if you’re going to be driving long distances with passengers. 
  • Emergency Stop – Complete one and see how well the brakes perform 
  • Handbrake and Clutch Test – Drive on a steep gradient to see how well the handbrake releases and the clutch performs. 
  • Parking – Try to park the car in various ways, including a reverse parallel park to determine the manoeuvrability 
  • Suspension – Make sure it does a good job absorbing bumps and jolts from uneven roads.  
  • Engine Power – Get a feel for the speed and whether the acceleration is smooth.

If you’re happy with everything you see with the car and have completed a test drive and found no issues then it’s a case of finalising the purchase.

 You’ll be given a lot of paperwork so make sure you read it all thoroughly and make sure nothing is amiss. Should everything be fine and you get all necessary checks completed, then it’s time to sign on the dotted line and become the proud owner of a used car!

Why Choose Us?

Here at Signet Motors we’re confident that we have the perfect used car for every buyer. We stock a huge range of quality used cars, with makes and models from all major manufacturers, along with one of New Zealand’s biggest selections of hybrid vehicles.

If you’re unsure of where to purchase your next used car, we’d love for you to stop by the yard to see what we have to offer. 

Here’s why we’re one of New Zealand’s most popular used car dealers:

Hybrid Specialists

We have one of the most expansive collections of used hybrid vehicles in the country, including top-selling models such as the Toyota Prius and Hyundai IONIQ.

High-Grade Direct Imports

We import only the best makes and models from around the world, directly to our showroom.

Varied Selection

From high-end luxury cars to low-cost budget models, we have an incredible range of used vehicles to suit all budgets.

Exceptional Value for Money

Not only do we stock a range of affordable quality used cars, our pricing is all inclusive of all on-road costs.

Fair Market Value Trade-Ins

We never short-change our customers who want to trade their old vehicles.


We offer remote buying assistance, flexible after hours viewing, and fast approval of financing. Need your car dropped off? We offer free or at-cost delivery throughout New Zealand.