INDEPENDENT NEWS

Buyers Beware: 45% Of NZ Cars For Sale Are 'scary'

Published: Sat 8 Nov 2008 01:21 PM
Media Release
8 November 2008
Buyers Beware: 45% Of NZ Cars For Sale Are 'scary'
Close to half the used cars offered for sale in New Zealand now have money owing or other serious issues which could potentially rebound on the new owner, according to data fuelling the launch today of a new dedicated public website for online pre-purchase vehicle checks.
With escalating risks in the form of rising private car sales and a difficult economic climate, scarycars.co.nz is designed to provide easy online access to New Zealand's most comprehensive full vehicle status report. The new public-facing site is backed by New Zealand's largest vehicle information report provider, generating nearly 500,000 reports a year primarily for car dealerships and finance companies.
Chris Knight, scarycars.co.nz managing director, says the current economic climate is creating a "perfect storm" for purchasing nightmares. Some 45% of the 500,000 vehicles checked in the past year have money owing or are stolen, were imported as damaged, have evidence of odometer tampering or have been deregistered in the past. Money owing is the single biggest issue uncovered, at 34%
Latest Ministry of Economic Development figures show 600,000 vehicles have money owing on them [1], while more than 20,000 [2] vehicles are stolen every year in New Zealand.
"These are issues that can prove very costly to the motorist, leaving them footing the bill for debt repayments or additional maintenance and repair charges. Worst case scenario, vehicles can be repossessed without compensation," Knight says.
"Add this to the growth in private car sales – close to 20% over the past five years [3] – and the risks are compounding. You've got people who can't afford to pay back the money they've borrowed for cars and think they can off-load the problem onto somebody else.
"And, while there are no official figures available on vehicle repossession, industry sources suggest there have been so many repossessions by finance companies recently that several have set up their own car yards to get rid of them."
At the other end of the scale, the collapse of a number of smaller finance companies had also removed a layer of protection for many car buyers, as many used to conduct vehicle checks on behalf of borrowers before approving funding.
Knight says parent company Motorweb is a leader for industry requests for vehicle checks but the public side of the business had not been a focus.
"Given current conditions, we think New Zealanders need a site dedicated to protecting private buyers from bad debt, dodgy cars and stolen vehicles."
The scarycars.co.nz website offers buyers online access to a 42-point full vehicle status report on prospective purchases, from the serious issues like money owing and odometer tampering, through to more minor irritants such as expired or cancelled registration.
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