Car Buying Tips

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Car Buying Tips

Buying a car is a large expense – and it’s not just that initial cost. There are running costs, insurance and possibly financing costs to consider. These tips can help you navigate your way through the nitty-gritty of acquiring your dream vehicle.

Firstly, do your homework and know what you can afford. This is usually not the same as what you want, so be realistic. Think about what you will use your car for – do you have a large family, will you need to carry a lot of equipment with you or is a small, economy vehicle better suited?

Try to narrow your search down to a few makes and models and get to know the specifications of each, so you have a better idea of what you’re buying. Familiarise yourself with the basic and optional accessories for your selected alternatives.

Check out how much it will cost to insure your choices. There is no compulsory insurance for cars in South Africa, but considering the cost of repairs, you would be advised to take out comprehensive cover, which provides you with compensation in the event of an accident.

At the very least you need Third Party, Fire and Theft, which protects you against claims from other car owners. Insurance costs vary greatly, depending on make, model, size and even colour, so get comparative quotes – they may help you think over some of your alternatives.

Buying privately may be cheaper, but you are then open for extra risks. Buying from a dealer offers you a guarantee and the possibility of finance, but there can be traps there as well.

If you are looking at a private purchase, make sure to check the seller’s identity against the registration details. Check the roadworthy certificate, compare the car mileage and take your time to thoroughly inspect the car. Take the car for a test drive – at least 20 minutes – and check that all controls are functioning. Check the service history of the car and be prepared to negotiate.

Remember that you are under no obligation to buy the car, so unless you are completely satisfied with the deal you will be better off looking elsewhere.

If you buy from a dealer, make sure you understand any warranty. If you’re unsure of any point, ask for an explanation and don’t be satisfied until you are completely sure about what’s covered. And what’s not…

Remember a receipt and make sure the receipt confirms that the car is free from any outstanding encumbrance. Also ensure that you get your half of the Change of Ownership document from the seller and that it has been signed.

Buying from a dealer will make it easier to obtain finance. In most cases you will need to put up some cash as a deposit to secure your loan, and the more you can contribute, the higher the chances of securing finance. Some dealers may be able to offer a so-called rent-to-own agreement, under which you rent the car for a while, and then end up owning it after the end of the selected period.

Another option is to take out a personal loan to finance you new car. However, the recent financial crisis has made moneylenders tighten up on whom they lend to, so you may need to shop around.


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