7 handy tips to buy a second-hand car in South Africa



The lives of most South Africans have changed quite dramatically during the Lockdown period.

Many have suffered severe financial loss. In such difficult times, buying a used car becomes more attractive than purchasing a new vehicle.

Thus, if you are planning to buy a used car, it is essential to pay attention to the below tips that will help guide you towards the right decision.

First things first – know what you are buying

You may be planning to buy this lovely-looking car, well-looked after and owned by a dear old lady. Don’t be fooled – you first need to make sure that everything that is hiding behind all that metal is in good working condition. The last thing you want to do is end up with a disaster on wheels, that may cost you a fortune to fix.

Below are 7 recommended steps that one can follow to ensure you end up with what you want.

1. Research the make of car

Research online forums and reviews on the make of car you wish to purchase. Even if the vehicle is brand-new, know what you are buying. Your research will  show  what the going price is for a new vehicle, as well as what used cars for that specific make are currently going for.  Knowing this will enable you to either accept or reject the amount that the dealer is offering you.

2. Conduct a background check

Ensure that the dealer with a so-called ‘great reputation’ is living up to that. A background check may reveal something that you don’t want to discover afterwards. In the event of a private deal, think carefully of all the questions you would like to ask so that you can get a good idea of what the car has been exposed to during its lifetime. If need be, ask a car specialist what sort of questions you should be asking. You may have to verify afterwards all the answers you are given.

3. Browse the Internet

Go to as many websites as possible  that show similar cars that satisfy your requirements. If available, click on the ‘favourites’ tab, so that you can begin to start comparing apples with apples by visiting several dealers and private persons, a picture will start to crystalize in your mind of precisely what you want.

4. What about the mileage? 

Cars with high mileage will usually require more costly maintenance.

5. The complete service book

Be very suspicious of a seller who has no service history of the car you wish to buy. You are safer with dealers who have the full-service record, or with RMI-accredited service centres. If the service is overdue, make the dealer service the car as a condition of the sale.

6. Let an experienced mechanic examine the car

Make sure the vehicle has not been in previous accidents and hasn’t been criminally tampered with in any way. As part of your sale, you can request that the vehicle be thoroughly checked first by an experienced mechanic. He or she should look for any leaks and the tyre condition.

7. An extended warranty

You may want to take out an extended warranty on the used car so that you are covered for some time after the purchase.