All used car purchases are a bit of a crapshoot, but the premium to buy a new vehicle is so high that I think they are worth considering. I’ve purchased used vehicles from dealers, but have done so in the last three years so I can’t comment on longer term reliability. So far, the money saved has been worth some of the niceties you get with a new purchase. I’ve never purchased a vehicle from a private party, although I’ve sold a few.
Pass. That description tells you the previous owner has no idea what he’s doing as far as modding a car goes. If it’s any faster than stock I’d be amazed, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s full of problems from his bungling through installing his “race” parts.
I don’t really know what car prices look like in NZ (while everyone is welcome here, most of us are from the USA), so I can’t tell you if that’s a good price or not. And since it’s being sold through a used car dealership, I can’t tell you if it’s a good car or not either - make sure you get it inspected before you buy. As for the “shadowed” wheels - that first car looks like the guy took a can of spray paint and shot paint on the wheels. Guess what! You can do that too!
KM’s can be a big deal, but low KMs don’t guarantee a good car - if the previous owner neglected routine maintenance then you could face problems even on a relatively low-KM car. The best we can tell you is to get a pre-purchase inspection from an independent, non-corporate mechanic who does not do any work for wherever you’re buying the car from, and who has good reviews/recommendations. Even after that, it’s a gamble, but any purchase is at some level a gamble.
I can tell you that the Mazda 3 (the US version of the Axela) was a really, really good car, lots of fun to drive, and reliable.
Can I assume any car you plan to register in New Zealand must pass a comprehensive inspection, which includes some sort of exhaust/emissions inspection?
If so, buying a chipped car with no catalytic converter sounds like a real gamble
If the state inspector, or whatever you call them, is even half-awake, he’ll flunk your car faster than you can blink an eye
The very best used cars are usually sold by the dealer they are traded in at and they are usually make by the same corporation that the dealership sells. If a guy trades in his Chevy at a Ford dealership, or visa-versa, it usually means he wasn’t happy with it. The lesser quality used cars go to auction, and there is usually a reason they went there. The best quality used cars from private parties are mostly 3-5 year old cars that someone wanted to trade on a new one but the dealer offered him too low a trade-in. We don’t see much of that in our state because it is hard to recoup the extra 8 3/4 % sales tax.