We all know that buying a car is not investment; in fact, the value of a car has decreased by a few thousand rand in the time between driving it of the floor and parking it in your garage. A new car rapidly decreases in value during the first three years, but stabilises after that.
This is one reason why a lot of people are opting into buying a previously owned, yet relatively new car.
However there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before you sign the handover sheet.
- Set up a budget and stick to it: Don't be tempted into buying little "extras", and make sure that you include the cost of tax, insurance and registration fees as well.
- Check, check, double check: Check for any rust spots or areas where the paint might be lighter as this might indicate a prior accident. Make sure that you consult the AA checklist as well.
- Never view a car in poor light or in the rain: Water obscures scratches and poor light will hide dents. Make sure that you can view the car clearly and from all angles.
- Don't worry about dirt: Seats and carpets can be cleaned, but head-linings are almost impossible to clean completely.
- Have the car inspected by a professional: Just because the car looks spotless, does not mean that it is and a road-worthy certificate merely indicates the fact that the car meets minimum requirements. Getting the advice of someone you trust is always a good idea.
- Beware of used car dealers: Remember that they're out to close a business deal and make a profit. This can count in your favour however, as they are more likely to negotiate with you. Which brings us to the next point...
- Don't be afraid of haggling: Prices at dealerships are often inflated as the more profit they make, the more commission the dealer makes.
- Test-drive the car: Always test drive the car on a variety of roads so you can feel how it handles acceleration, stopping as well as bumpy roads. Try stopping and taking off on a hill. Do you feel comfortable in the car?
- Legalities: Ensure that the vehicle has a valid license disc and make sure that you get copies of the vehicle registration papers to be sure that the vehicle is registered to the person that you are buying from. If the person selling the car is not the registered owner, find out why he is the one selling it.
- Don't be afraid to walk away.