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Tips for buying your next used car

Buying a used car might seem a straightforward process to many, but there is an art and a craft to knowing which used car to buy and just how to buy it. The used car market is cleaning up its act with regards to the old days of unscrupulous used car dealers and dodgy salesmen.

With greater transparency, more power to buyers, and more protection for these transactions from our government and responsible industry bodies, the used car market is showing signs of strength and growth. Buying a new (used) car is usually one of the most exciting transactions you can undertake and if done correct both parties will leave smiling and satisfied. Let us walk you through the tips for buying your next used car.

Tip #1: Know your Budget and Car Needs
Work out your monthly budget on what you can afford in terms of a vehicle, its fuel costs, maintenance, and insurance premiums. For every R100,000 that you will finance, you can expect to pay around R2,000 per month. You might have a lower or a higher figure than this, but we’ve calculated this at a 12% interest rate over 72 months without a deposit. Knowing how much you can afford and what your financial position indicates, you will be better informed on the price range you can shop for your dream car.
Pro Tip: Don’t be swayed from your budget once you’ve walked through a dealership’s car lot.

Tip #2: Test Drive
The vehicle you like may look fantastic on the showroom floor. It might start up cleanly. It might feel comfortable behind the steering wheel. But, you’ll never know about its engine, gearbox, and suspension’s condition unless you take it for a test drive. Drive a few different cars in your price range until you’ve worked out which type of car, engine size and specifications you’d like for your next car.

Tip #3: Research
With your list of cars in mind, use Google to find as much information about your potential next car. From car tests, to videos, to owner forums, trawl the internet so that you won’t be surprised about any of the car’s shortcomings later… This way you can also little down your list by removing cars that don’t live up to your expectations. Don’t settle for mediocre; there are thousands of cars out there and more than 1 is bound to have exactly what you’re wanting in your next car.
Pro Tip: Once you’re narrowed your search to a few car models, call your mechanic or the respective franchise dealership’s workshop manager for more insights into common faults, what to expect from servicing the vehicle, parts prices, and spares availability.

Tip #4: Turn to online car sales platforms
Cars.co.za, Autotrader.co.za, CarMag.co.za, and Gumtree.co.za are the most widely used car shopping platforms in South Africa. Car dealers advertise their stock on these websites and that makes them the perfect places to perform price comparisons and deep searches. Remember to stick to your budget and price range, hunt for the cars that you think are in the best condition and contact the dealer for more information.
Pro Tip: Don’t be embarrassed to inform the salesperson that you’re shopping and have other vehicles you’re researching. Ask as many questions about the vehicle as possible and request walk-around videos and more photographs of the car in question.

Tip #5: Take your search offline
Once you’ve found a handful number of cars you’re interested in buying, and they’re all locally available, take the time to visit each seller to test drive and inspect the vehicle. If you’re buying a car from out-of-province – which is a fast-growing trend – be sure to have the car independently verified for you. Request the dealer to take the vehicle for a Dekra Roadworthy Test (this will cost you less than R300) and they will provide you with a report on the vehicle’s mechanical condition from top to bottom. This will help you to keep the salesperson honest and keep you in control of the transaction.

Tip #6: Negotiate the Price
Never accept the first price they offer you. Be bold and ask for a 10 percent discount. Or a 15 percent discount, if you’re confident enough. Ask for a breakdown of their costs and dealership fees – and ask for a reduction in those costs too. Fight for every Rand you can.

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