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How to buy a secondhand car in five easy steps

How to buy a secondhand car in five easy steps

By Elmarie Cilliers

Wesbank Executive Officer

Buying a second-hand vehicle can be a daunting experience but the process can be much easier if you follow these easy steps:

Determine your budget and needs

Be realistic about what you can afford and stick to your budget. Consider any repairs you may have to do and the increase in fuel if it’s very different to what you are currently driving. Think of your lifestyle and what you might need in terms of interior space, finishes, etc. If you are doing a trade-in, find out what your car’s trade-in value is and never accept the first price. Different dealers offer different incentives like cash back.

Keep your options open

Make a list of your desired cars. Don’t set your heart on only one model – consider and test drive at least three options.

Do your homework

If you are interested in a certain model of car, read up about it in car magazines and online forums. Chat to friends with similar cars to get an idea of car prices at certain ages and with different mileage.

Research maintenance

Ask around what a typical service will cost if the car is no longer under a motor plan. Consider your location and whether you have easy access to service centres. For example, if you buy certain models you might only find their parts in major cities, which may be hundreds of kilometers from where you live.

Ask the right questions

If you are buying a car privately, your initial contact will most likely be a phone call or email. Be sure to ask lots of questions so that you don’t waste your time with a visit. Why are they selling the car? Is there still outstanding debt and can they provide the proof of payment? What was the car primarily used for? Where was it parked during the day? And at night? Do they have kids? What kind of daily commute did they do? Have they done many long road trips? When last were the tyres replaced? Any recent repairs? Any serious accidents (fender benders are normal)? If buying from a dealer, don’t worry about asking a dumb question. Ask them why the mileage is high or why the interior looks shabby. They are the experts and they will give you sound advice.

Never just buy the first car you like. Remember, everything is negotiable. If buying from a car dealer, remember Wesbank is here for your secondhand and new vehicle needs.

About The Author

Guest Contributor

A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.