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15.05.2017 - 07:30

What to look out for when purchasing a pre-owned car

Purchasing a car can always be a daunting task, whether you’re looking at cars anywhere in South Africa. Besides having to haggle the price, there’s the possibility you may be buying a lemon, a car with manufacturing defects, as well.

If a deal looks too good to be true then it probably is. You’re going to want to follow the steps below in order to make sure you’re not wasting money and can drive away with the car of your dreams, or at least one that will get you to and from work.


1. Research the car and brand


Regardless of which company manufactured the car, or which model it is, any vehicle can have defects. Before going to look at the car you saw advertised online or in the newspaper, do a bit of research on the manufacturer and model. You’ll want to check different forums where users have had their car for a few years.


This will get you a better understanding of what can go wrong with the vehicle, or even what has gone wrong with it. After all, do you really want to pick up a something that explodes the moment it's driven off the showroom floor? When buying used cars in Gauteng, or anywhere in South Africa, it’s important to know it’s history.


2. Check the service history


If the previous owner looked after the car, they should also have a full service history. Having a look at the car’s ‘book of life’, as Toyota calls it, will indicate regular services and at what mileage they happened, as well any official work that has been done on the car.


The owner should also have all of the receipts and slips from any other mechanics that worked on the car, even if it was just an oil change. You don’t want to purchase the car only to find out later that it needs a new clutch or part of the engine is cracked.


3. Inspect the interior of the car


While you’re inspecting the outside of the car, make sure to look inside as well. Have a good hard look at the floor, seats, mats, and the boot. The owner or seller should have removed any trash that was inside the car and had it professionally cleaned as well.


Any glass shards or splinters could mean a window was broken in the past. Question any and all stains in and around the car, after all, do you really want to be sitting on someone’s blood or other bodily fluids?


4. Check the electronics and fans


Almost every car will have a radio and other luxuries, such as electric windows, speakers, and aircon. Take your time testing out not only the radio and CD player, but if the windows roll down, the boot opens from being triggered inside the car, and that the aircon and heater works.


All of these things can be expensive to fix and you don’t want to be left with the bill. You don’t want to be driving in a South African summer with no working aircon, or through a storm with windscreen wipers that don’t respond.


5. Take the car for a test drive


Ask the owner or seller if you can take the car for a test drive. While driving you’ll quickly get a feel for the vehicle and be able to tell if it has any problems accelerating, pulling away on a hill, or if there’s smoke billowing out of the exhaust.


This is standard practice and if you’re not allowed to drive the car, or the person insists that only they drive it, then rather leave. This could mean they are hiding something wrong with the car that they don’t want discovered when the car is sold.


6. Check if the car has been in an accident


And, lastly, you’ll want to check if the car had previously been in an accident in order to avoid any potential problems. Inspect the outside of the car closely to see if there is any discoloured or noticeably different parts, or event if it has been resprayed. These can be warning signs.


It is best to phone the manufacturer and give them the car’s VIN number as well. If the car has been in a serious accident, they should have it on record. Though this will only count for reported accidents. The car should also be taken to an AA approved test centre to have it independently checked out and made sure everything is fine.


With all of these checks in place, you should have no problem not only finding the perfect car to suit you and your budget, but one that is also safe.


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