Buying a car through a used car dealership – tips to buy quality

Jun 2021

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When shopping on a budget, buying through a used car dealership is the best way to go. Purchasing a second-hand model does not always mean that you have to buy something that will only cause you problems (and more money!).
As the price of new cars continues to soar, it is expected that the used car market will also see an upward growth trend as South Africans try and make their budget stretch as far as possible.
With a little time and patience – and the right set of eyes – you will be able to drive out of a used car dealership with a quality vehicle in no time!
Benefits of buying a used car
When buying a second-hand car, you might find that there are a few more benefits than you had previously thought! These benefits include:

  • Affordable price: Because this is not a brand-new model, you will not be paying a brand-new car price, which means it will be budget friendly. The only exception here will be if it is a vintage car that could keep its resale value.
  • Reduced rate of depreciation: If you buy a vehicle from a used car dealership, you know that it has been used and, consequently, that there might be some scratches  – the same way you expect a brand-new model to be scratch-free – but the difference is that if there are minor scratches, it will affect the price in your favour.
  • Cheaper premium on insurance: Insurance on a second-hand car is much cheaper than insurance on a new one, which also helps with the tight budget!
  • Buying a warranty: You can buy a certified used car or buy a warranty from a used car dealership.
  • Choice: The variety of used cars is unlimited, so you will be spoiled for choice when it’s time to trade in the old for something a little more… well, more.

Risks of buying a used car
While there are many benefits to buy from a used car dealership, there are certain risks as well. These risks are:

  • Existing problems: The law requires the seller to disclose any issues the car may have to the used car dealership when selling the car, but sometimes this does not happen.
  • Mechanical issues: The used car dealership will remedy any big problems that may arise in the car, but these could arise after some time again.
  • Compromises: Some of the specifications that you want in a car will just not be able to realise in a used car – such as the colour or year of the car.

Other factors to consider when buying a car from a used car dealership includes mileage, service history, accident history, and the roadworthiness of the vehicle. Therefore, it is very important that you do thorough history checks and ensure the car has no underlying issues before you sign on the dotted line. Another point to research is the car’s fuel consumption, as well as the costing and manufacturing of the car parts – are they made in South Africa or not? If they are imported, they will cost extra and will take longer to arrive.
Also, make sure of the market value of the car to check that you are not paying too much because you are dealing with a used car dealership whose morals are questionable. Also take into account the depreciation of the car, the mileage, and the year of the car. This all comes into play when the price of a second-hand car is determined.
When searching for a car, make sure to shop around. When looking at a specific car, make sure to look at the odometer of the vehicle, ask for the car’s service manual, enquire about its accident history, and ask about the spare key of the car.
Some used car dealerships offer you a car warranty, so make sure you ask! Sometimes, if the car is not older than five years, it will still have its original service guarantee intact. If this is no longer the case, the used car dealership could offer you an extended warranty, which can be paid as an extra cost or added as a monthly instalment.
Here is a quick checklist to ensure you have thought of everything as you buy your perfect car from a used car dealership:

  • Research: Make sure the car you want to buy is a solid choice and what the market value of the car is.
  • Background check: If you are buying from a used car dealership, do an online search for reviews, as this will give you a clearer idea of the kind of service you can expect to receive.
  • Shop around: You have unlimited choices, so do not settle for the first great choice you come across.
  • Look at the mileage: Cars with high mileage tend to have more maintenance issues, which might be more costly in the long run.
  • Service History: Make sure the car has an up-to-date service history log.
  • Accident and theft report: If the car was in any kind of accident or involved in a theft, it could be considered a high-risk buy.
  • Leaks: Any oil or other leaks could be a sign of poor maintenance. Stay away from dirty, oily engines!
  • Tyres: Check the wear of the tyres; this could tell you the state of the shock absorbers, the wheel alignment and the suspension system.
  • Cabin check: Inspect the state of the panels and the fabric on the inside of the car and be lenient to the normal wear and tear that comes with the age of the car.
  • Test drive: Always ask to drive the car yourself. A well-maintained car should start easily. Take it for a proper drive on a variety of roads to see how it holds up on different turns and stops.
  • Safety check: Things like seatbelts and airbags are non-negotiables.
  • Technology of the car: Make sure things like the electrical systems of the car is in working order.

These are the biggest and most important aspects to look out for when you purchase a vehicle from a used car dealership. Now that you know this, enjoy finding the perfect vehicle to meet all your needs.