Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Car I Never Dreamed Of

Its true! After a whole year of suffering in Sydney without a car, we finally broke down and decided it was time. Since Sydney's roads follow the general layout of a plate of spaghetti, getting around without a car is pretty tough -- doable, but tough.

A few friends advised us to check out Parramatta Road, which is lined with used car dealerships  whose listed price is always much higher than the price they're willing to sell at. After a long day of walking from dealership to dealership looking at crappy Holdens, Fords, and Daewoos, and sweating buckets in the humidity, we decided that this was not the best way to do things.

We retreated to our home, on public transportation of course, to do some more research. We hit up and limited our search to brands we'd actually want to drive. We checked each make, model, year, and how many kilometers the car had. Then Adam contacted each one and talked the price down by at least $1000; for the ones that said they could drop the price, we plotted the location on a map and told them we'd come see the car the next day. We rented a car this time around and the next morning headed out to see each one.

Three dealerships and one house call later we ended up getting an oldie but a goodie. Since we only needed a car to last us for the next year and a half or so we decided cheaper is the way to go.

We are now the owners of a 1997 Silver Audi A4 that was listed for $5k but we got for $3750. Its registration ("rego" in Aussie parlance) and insurance don’t expire until May so we saved ourselves roughly $400 on that.

When shopping for a used car I suggest following the method we used. Here are a few more things to consider when shopping around.

  • Check or and determine what you actually want to drive rather than blindly going to dealerships hoping you'll luck upon something you like.
  • Get to the point when on the phone. The first dealer Adam called, he said "I don't want to waste my time coming out to your location; what's the best price you can do on the car?" He used that much lower price as leverage with each following person. Don’t for a minute think that the price listed is the price you are going to pay. Don't be afraid to walk away -- many dealers will have last second changes of heart and drop the price even more.
  • Ask about the history and how many owners the car had. Check the boot and under the bonnet. Look for rust and uneven lines between body panels (sign of a collision).
  • Always do a test drive even if you are only remotely interested. You don’t want to have to come back later to do this. Plus, you will only know if something is better or worse the more you have to compare it to.
  • Ask about the rego and how much time is left.
  • If you are purchasing from a dealership then ask about a warranty. Most were willing to throw in 12 months for free even after talking them down on price. They want to sell cards. 


  1. This bargaining method sounds an awfully lot like being in Chinatown... :)

  2. Good looking car.
    Very good tips.