Eleven points for buy­ing used cars

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

A TOUGHER eco­nomic cli­mate world­wide, and in South Africa, has forced many con­sumers to re­con­sider their spend­ing pat­terns.

An ob­vi­ous in­di­ca­tor of this is that new car sales are sig­nif­i­cantly lower this year com­pared with the same pe­riod last year.

Ac­cord­ing to the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (AA), this trend will lead many con­sumers to con­sider buy­ing used ve­hi­cles. But, the as­so­ci­a­tion warned, buy­ers must be savvy when mak­ing th­ese pur­chases.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers of South Africa (Naamsa), in­dus­try sales in the first half of 2016 were 10,6% lower as against the same pe­riod last year. In June this year, 44 939 new ve­hi­cles were sold, 5 300 less than in 2015.

In March, Wes­bank pre­dicted this de­cline in sales for the first half of the year. “This sales per­for­mance is in line with our fore­cast for the year, and it’s been in­formed by a num­ber of macro-eco­nomic fac­tors. The rand has strug­gled, in­ter­est rates have been hiked and in­fla­tion has taken its toll on house­hold bud­gets,” said Simphiwe Nghona, CEO of Wes­bank Mo­tor Re­tail.

Given this cli­mate, the AA said it pre­dicts a spike in used car sales, with con­sumers seek­ing more af­ford­able op­tions.

“While buy­ing a sec­ond­hand ve­hi­cle is a good op­tion for many, buy­ers need to be aware that there are also pit­falls; there may be me­chan­i­cal prob­lems, body dam­age, re­place­ment parts may be harder to source and war­ranty ben­e­fits will ex­pire sooner.

“It’s im­por­tant that buy­ers con­duct proper re­search, com­pare prices, and not rush into the first good deal they come across,” the AA said.

Start with your bud­get, look at your cash flow and, if you need finance, de­ter­mine how much you can af­ford to re­pay. From there, look at the cost of the car that you can af­ford and how much debt you are will­ing to take on and do not de­vi­ate. The as­so­ci­a­tion warned that

a road­wor­thy cer­tifi­cate (RWC) is not a guar­an­tee that the car is prob­lem free. It is a doc­u­ment that sim­ply states that the ve­hi­cle meets the min­i­mum statu­tory re­quire­ments in terms of safety, such as brakes, sus­pen­sion and lights. A car could have an RWC and still have a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem.

“It’s im­por­tant that you have a look at the car in day­light, in­spect ev­ery inch of it, and take it for a test drive. If pos­si­ble, have someone with me­chan­i­cal in­sight take a look at the en­gine. For even more peace of mind, buy­ers can take the car to an AA Qual­ity As­sured spe­cial­ist or Dekra cen­tre for a bumper-to-bumper once over be­fore they make their fi­nal de­ci­sion,” the AA said.

Other items to check when buy­ing a used car in­clude:

• deal with a fran­chised car dealer or an AA Qual­ity As­sured car dealer;

• if you can stretch your bud­get, look at a low-mileage demo model from a rep­utable dealer; th­ese cars are usu­ally well priced, al­most new, and have of­ten been well looked af­ter;

• when test driv­ing, check han­dling, brakes, and look for any signs of me­chan­i­cal prob­lems;

• check the in­te­rior for any ob­vi­ous faults such as ripped ma­te­rial. The wear on the rub­ber of the brake, clutch and ac­cel­er­a­tor should be con­sis­tent with the age of the car;

• turn off the ra­dio while you test drive, check that there are no ex­tra-or­di­nary sounds;

• check that the bat­tery ter­mi­nals are clear of any build-up

• check for smoke from the ex­haust;

• check that the body colour is even through­out the car, a change (even slight) may mean body work has been done, and may in­di­cate the car was in­volved in a crash; and

• check that the tyres are in a good con­di­tion, and if not, that replacements are avail­able.

“This is not a de­fin­i­tive list but it may be a good start­ing point. Also al­ways in­sist on the car’s pa­per­work and ser­vice record,” the AA ad­vised.

Fi­nally, re­mem­ber that a deal that sounds too good to be true, usu­ally is.

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