Australia Markets closed

Have you paid for the wrong car?

If you’ve bought a used 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.

Also read: The most expensive car in Australia, worth more than $7 million

According to research data from – Australia’s first online-only used car dealer – around 30% of motorists 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 vehicle variations can be very confusing.” says Paul Higgins, Director and Co-Founder of

Also read: What you car says about you

A lack of publicly accessible vehicle data means it’s often not possible for prospective car buyers to perform their due diligence prior to purchasing a used vehicle.

A simple discrepancy in the description of a used vehicle classified can mean a difference of thousands of dollars on the price of a vehicle, so it certainly pays to know exactly what you’re buying.

If you’re in the market for a preloved car, here are some common mistakes sellers make when offering their car up 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 motoring 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 the 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 stick your head underneath and look for the drive shafts.

  1. 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).

HelloCars is Australia’s first online-only used car dealer which gives Australians a safer, more convenient and better-value way to buy and sell used cars, without the hassle. By operating online without the fancy showroom or pushy sales team, HelloCars can put more money in your pocket whether you’re buying or selling a used car.