Everyone has heard the jokes about second-hand car salesmen. It goes without saying that buying a second-hand car is not quite as straightforward as buying a brand new one. There are several things you should do to ensure that you get a good deal and don’t buy a lemon. Here is a checklist for all savvy second-hand car buyers:
If you know a good mechanic, ask him to come with you to view the car and don’t be shy about asking questions if you spot something that concerns you. Question extremely low or extremely high mileage and ask to see the service book. Check for body panels that are not exactly the same colour as the rest of the car.
You should insist on a roadworthy certificate and, if necessary, pay for the car to be inspected by the AA. Dekra Auto, in association with the AA, offers a multi-point check for second-hand car buyers.
You should ask for a police clearance certificate so that you know you are not buying a stolen vehicle. Even if you were not aware that it was a stolen vehicle, and it is later recovered by the police, you forfeit all ownership rights and any money you paid for the car.
Ask for the car’s logbook. This is not an actual book but a certificate confirming that the person you are buying the car from is the owner of the car. If you buy a car via a hire purchase agreement with the bank, the logbook goes directly from the dealership to the bank and is then handed over to you when you have paid off the car.
How do you know if you are paying the right price? Transunion offers consumers valuation and verification reports at www.carvalue.co.za. A valuation report takes into account the mileage and condition of the car you want to buy and will give you the retail and trade price. A verification report goes into more detail and will tell you if the car is stolen or on a police search list. It also tells you if the car was in an accident and will list the repairs made, which will give you an idea of the severity of the accident. This is important because you don’t want to buy a car that was damaged so badly, it was just short of a write-off. The first valuation report is free and you pay R10 per valuation report thereafter, while a verification report will cost you R150.
If you do find any problems with the car but they are not insurmountable, draw up a list that you can use to negotiate the price down.
Do not hand over any cash before you have possession of the car and signed ownership papers or a sale agreement.
The seller must sign a buy-in document to acknowledge that you have bought the car and that they relinquish all rights to the car.
A car is usually the second biggest purchase you will make after a home. Slow down, take the extra time to check that you are making the right choice and make sure you reach your destination safely in a good set of wheels.