Tips and advice on buying second hand cars

Are you considering buying a second hand car? Keep reading for expert advice and useful tips to ensure that you'll get the quality you deserve at a price you can afford!

Buying a used car does not need to be a stressful experience or an ordeal you have to worry about regretting in future. In fact, if you do your homework and consider your options wisely, it has the potential to be the best investment you'll ever make.

Some key points to bear in mind:

  • Insist on seeing all the car's paperwork and inspect the service record carefully.
  • Check the vehicle thoroughly and hire a professional to conduct a full mechanical check.
  • Test-drive the vehicle!
  • Draw up a budget and don't be tempted to exceed it.
  • Beware of trusting used car salesmen - they're out to make a profit.
  • Always attempt to lower the selling price through negotiation.
  • Don't purchase the vehicle unless you are 100% satisfied with it.
  • Remember that a roadworthy certificate does not necessarily mean that the used car is perfect, as this document merely indicates that the vehicle satisfies minimum safety requirements.
  • Shop around!

Beware of unscrupulous used car dealers

Always remember that the new and used car salesperson is there to close a business deal, and ultimately, to make a profit - regardless of how honest or trustworthy he or she may seem.

An alarming trend to be aware of is used car dealers who are advertising as private sellers in order to get more out of the deal than the car is worth. A telltale sign to look out for is if the person answering the phone asks you to specify which car you are enquiring about, as this indicates that he or she is selling several vehicles.

It is also common for South African used car dealers to inflate selling prices in order to sweeten the deal for their salespeople. Think about it: The higher the price, the greater the profit and the more commission the salesperson takes home. It is thus imperative to negotiate the prices of used vehicles to ensure you get your money's worth.

Also, be careful of smooth-talking dealers that are so good at what they do, that without knowing it, you find yourself buying all those “extras” that you don't need and didn't even want in the first place! You're probably thinking: that will never happen to me! Keep in mind, however, that the expression, “selling ice to Eskimos” was inspired by someone very similar to used car salesmen such as these.

Check the used vehicle thoroughly before making the purchase!

This point really cannot be stressed enough. Just because a car looks spotless, sparkling and perfect, does not mean that it is. A thorough check goes beyond ensuring that the seats aren't torn and the hooter works. You, a friend or a professional must inspect the car thoroughly - from its body and tyres to the engine and interior. As they say, rather safe than sorry, so make sure you consult the AAs checklist before making the decision to buy.