The best used car dealerships in Canberra: your ultimate guide to buying a used car

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used cars, Canberra Toyota

Canberra Toyota used cars in Belconnen, one of Canberra’s most recommended used-car dealerships. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

With vast distances from one side of our continent to another, Australians have adopted cars as the transportation mode of choice. And with over 20 million registered cars scatters across our plains, we surely are a nation of auto enthusiasts. Indeed, here in Canberra the average ownership lifespan of a car is the shortest in the country, sitting at just over nine years.

So, when the time arrives to bid our old wheels farewell; we are presented with several options. We can order new from the factory floor; go with a low mileage demonstrator; or perhaps elect to purchase a used car.

Buying a used car has long been a favoured choice for those seeking to own a quality car at a lower price point. While they may have clocked up a few kilometres, buying a used car has its advantages.

Perhaps the most compelling reason for a used car purchase is that of depreciation. On average, new cars can lose up to 30 percent of their value in the first three years. As such, it is possible to save quite a bit a of coin on a younger used car.

By investing in some research and some savvy used-car shopping, it is possible to secure a car that feels like new. But where oh where does one start? With three core avenues to securing a pre-owned vehicle, buyers are spoilt for choice.

Private sales involve purchasing directly from existing owners and can provide a clearer window into a vehicle’s history. Auctions other hand open the door to typically well-maintained ex-government and fleet cars. And dealerships provide greater choice, a seamless change over, and added peace of mind.

If scouring the classifieds and registering for auctions feels like a bit much, dealerships may be the option for you. The good news is that we have rounded up the finest used-car dealerships that Canberra has to offer. Read on below to find out more.

What makes a great used-car dealership?

Great used-car dealerships combine the best of both worlds. They offer the latest in automotive comfort and innovation and at great prices. Here are a few suggestions to help you evaluate the used-car dealerships you visit:

  • Reputable & recommended. When it comes to cars; we have all heard tales of the proverbial lemon. Finding a reputable and recommended used-car dealership is a great way to mitigate this risk, ensuring only quality cars are on offer. Hence, look for trustworthy dealerships who have built a reputation worth hearing about. Often, one of the best ways find a great sales experience is to choose a dealership that comes recommended. A personal or professional recommendation offers valuable peace of mind that they have been trusted by a family or friend.
  • Spoilt for choice. There is nothing worse than knowing what you want, only to have trouble sourcing it. The best used-car dealerships know their market well. They ensure yards are well stocked with the most popular makes and models. And should the need arise, will hunt one down for you.
  • Great Service. Indeed, the best used-car dealerships become such due to their outstanding service. This includes all the basics like prompt attendance, providing detailed information, and answering questions. It also involves listening, understanding client needs and concerns, and finding product options that address these. The best car dealerships work hand in hand with clients to narrow down their shortlist of options down to a single choice. Therefore, assess a dealers reputation by reviewing past customer feedback with reference to sales integrity and service.
  • Financing options. Every buyer wants to feel like they have secured a good deal. Whether through a pricing offer, a trade in, or via flexible payment terms, the best used-car dealerships make this happen. Many dealerships strive to make the purchase process even more seamless by offering an array of attractive financing options. Should you require a trade-in, they will shop your vehicle around to secure the best price possible. Whether you are a private or business buyer, the best will offer structured terms and rates to make payment a breeze.
  • Warranties & servicing. When it comes to buying a used-car often the most attractive sales come with added peace of mind for buyers. While some used cars may still be under manufacturer warranty, others will not. So, shop around for the best warranty and service package you can find. If in doubt, request an independent mechanical inspection be completed before moving forward with the sale.

Important essentials for buying a used car.

  1. Take it for a spin. A lengthy test drive of twenty minutes or more provides opportunity to assess how the car operates, handles, and drives. Be sure to thoroughly test the operation of all features. Before jumping in cite registration papers and CTP green slip to ensure it is registered and covered by compulsory third party insurance.
  2. Inspect from bonnet to boot. Examine each aspect of the interior and exterior, considering condition and whether all features function as they should. Pay attention to seat belts, lights, air conditioning, windows and mirrors, and automated features like navigation and parking. Open and close all doors, the bonnet, fuel tank and boot to ensure they work smoothly. Then check tyres, coolant, and oil, and look for any signs of leaks. Finally, ensure that the tool kit, spare tyre, and extra set of keys are in working order. Be sure to note the VIN number and that it matches registration paperwork.
  3. Undertake a car history check. This check should include ownership, service history, finance history, and odometer reading. Specific services exist to assist, or visit the Personal Property Securities Register using the vehicle identification number (VIN) or chassis number. Additionally, request details on a stamped service history and contact the service centre to validate any information.
  4. Order a mechanical inspection. Hire a mechanic or independent motor inspection service to complete a full inspection on the car and issue a report on findings. Inspections typically cover the interior, exterior, tyres, wheels and brakes, the engine compartment, the upper body, and include a road test. These inspections can cost between $300 to $500 but are well worth the peace of mind.
  5. Consider all aspects. Check whether the manufacturer warranty still applies and confirm expiry. Ensure you are well armed with knowledge on the cars safety rating, security scores, and fuel consumption. It is also worth arranging finance and investigating insurance and servicing costs to assist in the purchase decision.

The best used-car dealerships in Canberra

Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Volvo Selekt Used Vehicles

Volvo Cars Canberra is a locally owned business servicing the automotive needs of Canberrans for over 30 years.

Their pre-owned division, Selekt Used Vehicles, is an excellent way to secure a used Volvo car. By engaging Volvo Selekt Used Vehicles, buyers are gaining more than a great vehicle. They are securing Volvo’s commitment to their customers peace of mind.

To experience Volvo’s signature quality and safety visit Volvo Selekt Used Vehicles today.

Zachery Springfield shared his experience on Google, Friendly staff excellent service.”

Canberra Toyota

Since their establishment in 1988; Canberra Toyota have become as synonymous as the local automotive landscape itself. Their reputable pre-owned department operates out of four convenient locations in Gungahlin, Fyshwick, Belconnen, and Phillip.

Canberra Toyota’s popularity is evident in their impressive range of pre-owned and demonstrator vehicles. Their multi-site yards stock an extensive range of top quality pre-owned vehicles specialising in Toyota, and brands such as Ford, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Mazda, Lexus, Subaru, Holden, Volkswagen and much more!

Laughlin Clohesy shared this on Facebook, 'The team were great to deal with and made the whole process of buying a car easy. I'd like to especially thank Sachin at the Gungahlin used car dealership."

Phillip Mitsubishi

As South Canberra’s home of Mitsubishi, Phillip Mitsubishi have built a wonderful reputation for their range of demonstrator and pre-owned Mitsubishi automobiles.

From the award -inning Mirage; through to SUVs and 4WDs like the popular Pajero and Outlander; all the way through to the business-friendly Triton and Express; Phillip Mitsubishi has a model to suit every need. And, should you be looking for other makes or models, they also carry a selection of used-cars from other manufacturers.

To explore the latest range of pre-owned Mitsubishi’s look no further than Phillip Mitsubishi.

Justine Sturgess shared this review on Google, I was very impressed with the very professional and helpful staff.”

Lexus of Canberra

After first opening their doors over thirty years ago, Lexus of Canberra have been proudly serving the local community ever since.

Featuring a dual sales and service centre, they boast an impressive array of pre-owned and demonstrator vehicles. From hatch, to sedan, through to coupe, SUV and more; Lexus of Canberra offers driving solutions for everyone.

For a truly memorable experience that lasts well beyond the sale look to Lexus of Canberra.

ErnesetG Magnum had this to say on Google, Excellent service from the team. I recently purchased a used car from the Lexus team and much to my surprise I was treated as much of valued customer as if I was buying a new car.”

Subaru Canberra

Conveniently and centrally located in Phillip, Subaru Canberra are a specialist Subaru dealer, providing the latest vehicles designed to thrill and meet the needs of everyday life.

Subaru Canberra’s state of the art automotive showroom is home to all manner of demonstrator and used Subaru models. And, when it comes to purchasing a used car, the friendly team of experienced and seasoned Subaru specialists are there to assist.

Shaun S shared his experience with the Subaru Canberra team on Google, Friendly and helpful staff. Answer all calls and emails quickly and always follow up on requests. I found them willing to drive a good deal and not too pushy on doing a sale or finance. Extremely happy with my purchase and my experience in dealing with them.”

To maintain that showroom finish check out our articles on the best car washes and the best car detailers Canberra has to offer. For maintenance or mechanical assistance see our articles on the best car service centres and the best mechanics. To compare new car options, be sure to check out this article on the best car dealerships and the best luxury car dealerships in the region.

Your experience with used-car dealerships in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the car service centres listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is better buying from a dealer, through an auction, or by private sale?

All three options allow buyers to source quality cars at great prices; however, each comes with pros and cons. Buying from a dealer generally offers greater choice; opportunity to trade in; a safer exchange of title; and some protection under statutory warranty. On the flip side prices can be a little higher. Auctions on the other hand are a great way to secure a red-hot deal, however you may not be able to test drive or inspect the car prior to buying. And, while private sales can provide a better indication of a car’s history directly from the owner, they are typically void of any warranties. The best option for you will depend on your own unique situation and needs, so consider you options and be sure to do your research well.

What is covered under statutory warranty when buying a used car?

If your pre-owned vehicle doesn’t work as intended there are two forms of consumer protection that can help. If buying a used car from a dealer, Australian Consumer Law offers some guarantees which apply in a set timeframe. If a vehicle fails to meet these, buyers can be entitled to a repair, replacement, or refund. Additionally, vehicles purchased from a dealer are also covered by used-car statutory warranties. In the ACT this applies to cars less than 10 years old which have not travelled more than 160,000km, and provides buyers with a three-month or 5,000km statutory warranty. This is coupled with a 3-day cooling off period which allows buyers to cancel the agreement in writing with a small payment of $100 or 1%, whichever is greater to the dealer. For further information on used-car statutory warranties within the ACT contact Access Canberra.

What is a novated lease?

A novated lease is a great way to finance the purchase of a used car. It allows buyers to make repayments from their pre-tax salary under a salary sacrifice agreement with employers. It allows buyers to bundle all vehicle expensed into one single payment and can reduce taxable income at the same time. To see whether a novated lease can work for you speak to your employer and car dealership.

Should I run a PPSR search on the car I am interested in?

In short, yes. If you buy a used car only to discover that there is a debt owing on it, you may be liable for the loan repayment or even be at risk of repossession. The good news is that dealerships are legally obligated to guarantee any pre-owned cars are debt free. On the other hand, for vehicles purchased via auction or private seller, this responsibility falls on the buyer. To do this, a quick check can be run on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) using the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and for a small charge of $2 at the time of writing. The search can provide additional information including odometer check, VIN check, first sale information, written off status, stolen status, and status of repair if a part of the Takata airbag recall. For more information visit

What other information should I secure to assess a used car?

Always seek out a few key items when assessing a used car. This includes registration papers, a stamped service history, log books, and current green slip.

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