The vehicle identification number (VIN) is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer.
The VIN can be found in a couple of places including on the car's registration label (1), on the compliance plate in the engine bay (2) or on the passenger side windshield (3), or on one of the door posts (where the door latches when it is closed) (4). See the image below:
10 May 16
Everyone loves new things. It's the act of owning something that no one else has used, which makes it exciting and special.
However, as much as we like it, there are plenty of cases where second-hand necessarily doesn't mean bad. Take clothes, for example. Second-hand stores can be found almost anywhere we turn, and is a great opportunity for us to find labelled clothes at a fraction of the price.
Then there's appliances, where you can get a super good deal on something you don't have to buy brand new - washing machines, fridges and phones. These are all devices that are meant to last for years, and may not be that different in function if you buy used and not new.
Another such investment that's worth buying second-hand would be a car. Especially for your first vehicle purchase, it's wise to opt for a used car instead of brand new, depending on your licence type and years of experience.
Here are three reasons why that is:
1. Second-hand cars are cheaper
You'll be hard-pressed to find a brand new car cheaper than a second-hand one of the same marque. The moment a new vehicle is purchased and driven out of the car park is when it instantly becomes second-hand and starts depreciating in value - just look at a car a few years older and you may see a significant price difference. RACQ states that a new car could lose about 40 per cent of its value in only three years!1
A second-hand car is always a better idea if you're short on income but need a vehicle. You may need to compromise on some extra features but a second-hand car should be able to get you to and from a destination safely, at the very least. It might not have the latest sound system or five cup holders, but it's definitely likely to be much cheaper than a brand new car.
If you're a student, recently having passed your Ps, it's a wise idea to cast your eye on second-hand cars rather than new, even if you have the cash. Firstly, you'll have to keep up with the maintenance of the vehicle, and this means ongoing expenses. Secondly, you'll have less years of experience - this influences insurance and whether you have to get first-party or third-party insurance, with the former being typically more expensive. Compare The Market explains that if you do get into an accident, the excess may be different if you are younger and/or less experienced2.
2. You can also get a lot more options looking at second-hand cars
Unless you're after state-of-the-art technology and automatic doors, you're more likely to find the perfect car to suit your needs when searching for a second-hand car. This can include manual or automatic transition. You may also need to account for other features, such as two vs. four doors, different model shapes and engine specifications. You can find brand new manual cars that may be cheaper than an automatic vehicle, but they do require more skill to drive, which can pose a problem if you're a new driver yet to hit the roads with confidence.
3. There are a lot more places to find a second-hand car
It's easier to find a car that may have what you're looking for at a cheaper price if you're considering second-hand. There are auctions you can go to, car yards, a look online or even within your own community. It's not unlikely to see a car or two around your neighbourhood that has a "for sale" sign in its window.
If you do see a second-hand vehicle worth another look, however, make sure you get a CarHistory report first. It's just for peace of mind, to make sure you aren't buying a lemon.1RACQ, Buying a new or used car. Accessed April, 2016.