Buying a pre-owned or used car
If you’re an existing car owner, chances are you’d agree that buying a new or used car can be an overwhelming experience, whether good or bad.
However obvious it might seem, making sure you’re purchasing the right car is of the utmost importance – else you could end up being a very unhappy car owner and spending more money on fixing the car than you had initially bargained for.
Of course, there are plenty of things to keep in consideration when buying a car, especially if you’re a first time buyer. So before you go ahead and apply for car finance and drive off into the sunset with the windows rolled down, you’d need to weigh the pros and cons first, and then decide whether it would be worth purchasing or whether you need to be patient and continue with car-hunting until you find that beauty that stands out from the crowd.
So what’s next?
A checklist! Yes, that’s right – much like the grocery list on the fridge. You need to be certain that the car you’re interested in buying meets the necessary criteria as well as suits your lifestyle.
If you're looking to buy a used or pre-owned car, consider the following:
Let’s be honest, a car should be just as appealing as it should be in a running, working condition.
A small dent and a few scratches shouldn't have to be a deal breaker, and if anything, pointing them out might just convince the seller to lower the purchase price a bit. Though take mental notes when inspecting the car, and try not to let the excitement overwhelm your judgement.
Is there any visible rust, erosion or extensive damage on the body of the car? Is the paint fading or are there any broken lights? If you've answered yes to any of these, chances are you might be purchasing a fixer-upper rather than a go-go-getter type of car, which means you could be spending way more fixing it than what it's worth.
It goes without saying that the car you're interested in purchasing should be able to transport you from point A to point B without the risk of an engine failure. So go ahead and pop that hood - take a good, long gander at the inner works of what might potentially be your very first, or perhaps very next car.
If you're not familliar with car engines, it's advisable to bring along a friend or family member that can assist in asking the right questions and doing the necessary inspections for you. That way, you'd have a general idea of the car's fuel consumption, minor fixes and regular maintenance routines - and, more importantly have peace of mind in knowing you're not purchasing a used car that's bound to crank up anytime soon.
Above all, ask as many questions about the car as possible! And if need be, at the risk of raising some eyebrows, maintain an uninformed facial expression, so as to usher the seller in explaining as much details about the car as possible. Questions such as "is there an owner's manual?" or "does the car have an accident history?" are good questions to ask the seller.
Remember, this could potentially be your means of transport for the next few years, so rather be safe than sorry!
Interior & Functions
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and with a car's interior, much like your house or room, you pride yourself in the design, effort and attention to detail. Now take a deep breath, and own the driver's seat.
Follow the lines and curves along the dashboard towards the guages - now switch the car on. Proceed with inspecting the following:
- Do all the gauges work? Do they light up?
- Do the indicators work?
- What is the mileage on the odometer?
- Are any of the rear-view mirrors damaged? Can you see clearly behind you?
- Do the windows roll down?
- Do the doors open and close properly?
- Do the seat belts work?
- If applicable, does the sunroof work?
- Are the sun visors present, and do they work?
The list could be much longer, depending on what your needs and preferences are, but these are a few key factors to keep in mind when inspecting the used car.
And once again, ask questions if you're not entirely sure about something.
Probably the most important part, and the final deciding factor in purchasing the pre-owned car, would be the test drive. So go ahead, turn the ignition and start that beauty!
Like that sound? Much like a compannion whispering sweet nothings in your ear - it awakens the butteflies in your tummy, right? Now because this would be the first time driving this particular pre-owned car, you'd firstly need to get used to the acceleration, so be careful and vigilant when taking it for a test drive.
During the test drive, pay special attention to the smoothness of acceleration, handling of the vehicle, clutch control and dashboard guages. Are the brakes firm and responsive enough? Are there any squeeks or abnormal noises?
Test driving the car should be a pleasure, with little to no exceptions. Take your time when test driving the used car and try to test the most vital functionalities such as the windscreen wipers, indicators, power steering, brakes and gear switching.
The seller will in almost all cases be present during the test drive, so he or she should be able to answer any questions you might have regarding the car.
If you're buying a pre-owned car from a used car dealership, it would be in your best interest to ask about an extended motor warranty or service plan if there aren't any in place aready. It's always good to know that services on your car won't cost you a small fortune.
Never take risks when buying a used car, unless you're entirely happy with what you're purchasing. Even if it means that you request the car go through a multi-point check so as to ensure the car is in a good, working condition. There are specialised technicians such as DEKRA Auto South Africa that do an extensive multi-point check on the car, on your behalf - thereby eliminating any doubt whether the car would be worth purchasing or not.
Car insurance is also a must! Paying that little extra a month for peace of mind in knowing that you're covered in case of an accicent, dreaded disease or death is surely worth every penny!
Buying a used or pre-owned car doesn't have to be a daunting task, as long as you come prepared with your checklist, whether it be in mind or on paper.
Back in the day, buying a pre-owned car used to be a risk if you weren't educated enough to know what to look for before purchasing the car, and so the risk margins were much higher. In this day and age, the quality and effort that's invested in engine design has evolved and improved tremendously over the years, which - in most instances, makes buying a used or pre-owned car more of an investment than a grudge-purchase.
Have a look at the range of pre-owned cars for sale under R50 000 - you might just come across something special!
Please note that this article is merely a guide in discussing the key points when purchasing a pre-owned car. This article should in no way affect your decision in buying a pre-owned car, selling a pre-owned car or applying for car finance or car insurance.