If you’ve bought a car in a private sale recently, then there’s a 1 in 3 chance that you may not be driving the car that you paid for.
According to HelloCars research, around 30% of motorists mistakenly provide incorrect information about their vehicle when offering it up for sale.
“It’s not that some car owners are intentionally trying to mislead potential buyers, but rather that the distinction between different model and trim levels can be very confusing.” says Paul Higgins, Director and Co-Founder of HelloCars.com.au.
Here are some common vehicle details that owners get wrong when listing their car for sale.
1. Build Year vs Model Year
If you’re not sure what the letters “MY” mean when buying a new or used car, then it could end up becoming a very costly mistake. In the automotive world, “MY” is an initialism for “Model Year” which refers to the specification to which a car was built.
For example, if a car is identified as a “2017 MY18” it means it was built in 2017 to the specification of a 2018 model year car. Sometimes this difference can be subtle, other times it could mean buying a totally different car altogether.
This is very important since a MY18 model may feature better pricing, revised styling, more features and new equipment over a MY17 model. It pays to do your homework to make sure you don’t end up short changing yourself.
It will take some serious sleuthing to confirm the correct Model Year of a vehicle. Start by confirming the build date stamped on the vehicle’s compliance plate which is usually located in the engine bay or inside the door sills.
Once you know the build date, you can cross reference this with an online vehicle database to see which Model Year it corresponds to.
2. Factory-Fitted Options
Especially for used vehicles, confirming the specific factory options which a car has been fitted with can often be a game of hide-and-seek.
Some options like leather or satellite navigation are obvious, but equipment like premium audio or adaptive headlights aren’t as clearly identifiable. Again, it pays to check that the advertised options are indeed included in the vehicle you are looking to buy – especially in a private sale.
While not a deal-breaker, you should also be mindful of non-factory options such as aftermarket wheels and towing packages as these would have been retrofitted to the vehicle after sale and may not perform as well as a genuine part – or even void manufacturer’s warranty.
3. Two-Wheel-Drive vs All-Wheel-Drive
Many sedans, utes and SUVs are offered in both 2WD and AWD guise from the factory, but with so many models and variants in the mix it can be simple for the average car owner to mistakenly advertise their car with the wrong drive type.
Unless your car has a handy “4X4” badge on the back, the only sure-fire way to confirm if the car you’re looking to buy is in fact all-wheel-drive is to sick your head underneath and look for the drive axles.
4. Entry-Level or Premium
Do you know the difference between Comfortline, Trendline and Highline? What about XL or XLT? The arbitrary naming of different model variants can make it quite difficult to understand whether the car you want to buy is the bargain-basement version or the top-spec model with all the goodies.
Don’t take a classified ad at face value, it pays to understand exactly which model variant you are buying. Often the only way to confirm the details of a vehicle are to contact the manufacturer and quote the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
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