Business Day - Motor News

Second-hand, but not second best

ADVICE

- Motor News Reporter

The second-hand car industry has a poor reputation — and it’s mostly undeserved, says Jeff Osborne, head of Gumtree Automotive.

“Dealership­s (even ones that deal solely in second-hand cars) are subject to the Consumer Protection Act, which has gone a long way to legitimise and improve the second-hand trade,” he says. “The private market is not governed, but consumers are becoming savvier when it comes to buying second-hand, supported by tools such as online price checkers and even third-party facilitato­rs that can assist with transactio­ns and financing.”

While there are hundreds of thousands of second-hand cars on the market, Osborne cautions that there are simple warning signs that could break a deal before it is made.

“Sloppy bodywork and patching is a red flag because it could indicate undeclared accident damage — and even if declared, DIY patchwork tells me that the owner did not attend to the damage properly,” says Osborne. “Rust is less of a concern on much older cars, as long as it doesn’t compromise the structure of the car. It’s worth getting a quote on what it would cost to repair rust damage — because it will spread. Use that as a negotiatin­g point when it comes to price.”

If the seller is evasive or maintains strict control of how and when the car is started up, take it as a sign of caution. “A car should be started up “cold”, in other words don’t simply let the seller hand you the keys of a running car to test. Starting the car will reveal worn components and issues with fuel delivery a running car simply won’t.”

Modificati­ons can be a plus for some buyers, but unless paperwork can be produced and researched, it’s best to steer clear. “Modificati­ons void warranties, and if they aren’t profession­ally done, they can make the car unsafe. Profession­al improvemen­ts done by licensed mechanics on the other hand can improve safety and the driving experience. Solid paperwork and a maintenanc­e history is always a good sign.”

And speaking of paperwork, no deal should be made without the correct documentat­ion in place. “If a seller claims that he bought the vehicle without paperwork to begin with, or lost the paperwork in a fire, or offers a discount in lieu of paperwork, run away — don’t walk!” says Osborne. “You can easily obtain copies of vehicle registrati­on and ownership from your local traffic department, but the onus is on the seller to provide you with these copies. You should not accept anything less.”

HONESTY

A good seller will demonstrat­e good maintenanc­e of the car as well as openness and honesty. “Good sellers tend to take the time to write good adverts with correct informatio­n. They will be happy to point out flaws or parts that need servicing or replacing so you are fully informed. If a car has been cleaned, the tyres not worn too badly and proof of servicing and maintenanc­e presented, chances are the owner has been responsibl­e and taken good care of the vehicle, even if it’s an older model.”

A willingnes­s to allow a buyer to perform necessary profession­al checks and tests is another good sign. “If they refuse to have your mechanic or testing centre take a good look at the car, chances are they have something to hide.”

And most importantl­y, when in doubt, don’t. “There are hundreds of thousands of excellent used cars for sale, both privately and from dealership­s. Never settle for a deal that you aren’t sure about,” he says.

 ??  ?? The onus is on the seller to provide copies of vehicle’s registrati­on and ownership papers.
The onus is on the seller to provide copies of vehicle’s registrati­on and ownership papers.

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