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Thinking of buying a pre-owned car this festive season? Here’s what you need to consider

The festive season is fast approaching and buying a pre-owned car may be on your wish list for this year. But before you buy a pre-owned car, there are several things you should consider, says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).
“Buying a car is often the second biggest financial commitment you’ll make after buying or renting a home. The wrong decision on a car purchase can be a very costly mistake,” he says. “Taking the time to do research and getting a professional opinion before signing any contracts or handing over payment is essential. A contract is there to protect both you as the buyer and the seller.”
He advises consumers to firstly ask what warranties or guarantees are in place. “If the seller is not prepared to be transparent regarding guarantees, walk away. The Consumer Protection Act is very clear regarding minimum guarantees and warranties on transactions.”
Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the RMI, says that if the deal hinges on additional work being done to the car, do not conclude the deal until the work is completed. “Also be very clear regarding timelines for completion of the work. When you are ready to move forward with a deal, it is advisable to pay a deposit first. Then when satisfied that all related work needed and agreed upon is concluded, pay over the balance,” he advises.
It is important that all offers to purchase, agreements and undertakings are reduced to writing. “Before signing the relevant documents ensure that you fully understand the content thereof and know what you are committing yourself to,” adds Gary McCraw, National Director of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA), a proud association of the RMI. “Ensure when purchasing a pre-owned car you deal with a reputable motor vehicle dealer, preferably one that is a member of a recognised trade association such as the RMI or NADA, so if there are any issues there is recourse.”
Olivier adds the following quick tips and important questions to ask before purchasing a vehicle:

  • You are buying privately – spend more time on the detail
  • Before paying a deposit – ensure that all checks and balances are done.
  • Does the car have a current license disc and registration papers?
  • Is the car in a roadworthy condition?
  • Are you dealing with the owner of the car?
  • Has the car been modified?
  • Are there any warrantees and guarantees still available on the car and will this transfer on change of ownership?
  • Is the car being sold for a fair price (research available via the internet)?
  • Does the car have a service history that can be verified?
  • Take the car for a test drive. Take a car specialist with you.
  • Has the vehicle been in any accidents?
  • Is the mileage correct and can this be verified?
  • When last was the car serviced and when last was the cambelt changed?
  • Do a mechanical report on the car before concluding the deal
  • Check the condition of the tyres.

“Remember that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” he says.
He also reminds consumers that there are professionals available to assist you ahead of buying a car. “Sometimes a phone call is all it takes to provide added peace of mind. The RMI and its members are available nationally and will gladly assist if you are seeking advice.”