Buy­ing ad­vice

A suc­cess­ful sec­ond­hand buy isn’t just about pur­chas­ing a solid ve­hi­cle at a good price, it’s also about se­lect­ing the right tool for your ap­pli­ca­tion.

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

What are your needs?

One of the big­gest mis­takes sec­ond-hand buy­ers make is to pur­chase what they can af­ford, in­stead of what they need. As men­tioned last month, you can of­ten find great deals on large, lux­u­ri­ous SUVs on the used mar­ket, but it’s im­por­tant to fight that fear of miss­ing out on a great deal. Be­fore buy­ing a ve­hi­cle, take some time to as­sess your needs. Here are some ques­tions you should ask your­self be­fore pur­chas­ing a used SUV or 4×4.

What do I want to spend?

De­cide ex­actly how much you want to spend. Con­sider the de­posit you will put down, the monthly in­stal­ments, the cost of in­sur­ing the ve­hi­cle and what you’ll be pay­ing for fuel on a monthly ba­sis. Find a fig­ure you’re com­fort­able with and stick to it. Don’t let a great deal lure you into spending more than you ac­tu­ally can or want to.

How long will I keep it?

It’s im­por­tant to con­sider how long you plan to keep the ve­hi­cle. Firstly, this will have an impact on your pay­ment pe­riod. Don’t pay it off over six years if you’ll only be keep­ing it for three. Chances are, you’ll still owe too much af­ter three years to ac­tu­ally sell the ve­hi­cle. Sec­ondly, cer­tain ve­hi­cles are bet­ter long-term buys than oth­ers. A tough and ba­sic 4×4 can last for decades, but you don’t want to own a so­phis­ti­cated SUV with three tur­bos for too long. These ve­hi­cles can be great when new, but can be­come risky to own when they’re more than a decade old.

How much space do I need?

Most of us are tempted to buy the big­gest ve­hi­cle we can af­ford, but you need to ask your­self if you’ll re­ally use all that space. If you’re into over­land­ing, a spa­cious SUV or dou­ble cab is great, but if you’ll be spending most of your time around town, a smaller ve­hi­cle is more prac­ti­cal and eas­ier to live with. For most peo­ple, a com­pact SUV makes more sense than a large lux­ury SUV.

Where will I be spending most of my time?

A pukka 4×4 looks cool, but it can be a has­sle to live with on a daily ba­sis. Be­fore buy­ing, con­sider what you’ll be do­ing with the ve­hi­cle most of the time. Find a ve­hi­cle that suits your needs. You prob­a­bly don’t want to use a Cruiser to sit in Sand­ton traf­fic ev­ery day. At the same time, you don’t want to ex­plore the Namib or Kaokoveld in a soft­roader.

Do I need a 4x4 sys­tem?

It’s tempt­ing to buy a bakkie or SUV with a 4×4 sys­tem, but the fact of the mat­ter is, the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple with 4×4s never make use of these ca­pa­bil­i­ties. If you won’t be spending a lot of time on dirt and off-road trails, it’s per­haps best to buy a 2WD ve­hi­cle. Re­mem­ber, an un­used sys­tem is noth­ing more than a li­a­bil­ity that can re­sult in a large re­pair bill.

Do I need low-range gear­ing?

Un­less you’ll be do­ing some se­ri­ous off-road­ing, low-range gear­ing is prob­a­bly not nec­es­sary. Once again, this is a com­plex sys­tem that can re­sult in a hefty re­pair bill, so don’t buy a ve­hi­cle with low-range un­less you need it. If you’ll be tack­ling 4×4 trails, a trans­fer case is cru­cial. If you’ll be stick­ing to tar, though, it only adds un­nec­es­sary weight and com­plex­ity.

What en­gine/gear­box do I need?

You need to con­sider the best en­gine/gear­box combo for your ap­pli­ca­tion. If the ve­hi­cle is a daily driver des­tined for heavy traf­fic, a small and fru­gal en­gine with de­cent low-down grunt is a good buy. Sim­i­larly, an au­to­matic gear­box is great for traf­fic, but if you’re into off-road­ing, you might pre­fer the con­trol and en­gine com­pres­sion that a man­ual shifter of­fers. Plan­ning on do­ing a lot of over­land­ing? A tur­bod­iesel prob­a­bly of­fers the best com­pro­mise be­tween per­for­mance and econ­omy.

What are my es­sen­tials?

Be­fore shop­ping around, make a list of your must-have items. These could in­clude a large lug­gage area, a full-size spare wheel, mul­ti­ple airbags, trac­tion con­trol or ex­cel­lent fuel econ­omy. Stick to your list and don’t let a great deal al­low you to lose fo­cus.

Above: A pukka off-roader is a great buy, pro­vided you’re ac­tu­ally plan­ning on tack­ling of­froad trails. Buy a ve­hi­cle that suits your needs. Be­low: As the man be­hind RFS Auto – which buys and sells tested and in­spected used ve­hi­cles – Chris du Plooy knows the sec­ond-hand mar­ket.

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