What you should know when buying a car

2016-11-24 06:01
PHOTO: Alwyn Viljoen Car induna Brian Bassett, wears the smile of a man who has just pushed the needle all the way to the other side … and then kept it there.

PHOTO: Alwyn Viljoen Car induna Brian Bassett, wears the smile of a man who has just pushed the needle all the way to the other side … and then kept it there.

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FOR the wealthy buying most things is easy and painless. For the rest of us a major expenditure has to be planned carefully and the second largest financial commitment most people make in their lives is the purchase of a car, a house purchase being the largest.

Amazingly many people decide on the car they want without taking a test drive. They turn up in a new or used car showroom and end up making a purchase, which may or may not suit either their needs or their income. In doing this they may saddle themselves with regret for anything up to seven years while they pay off the vehicle.

The first step in purchasing a car is defining your needs. Sit down with your family and discuss what would make the best sense. It may not be the VW GTI you have always wanted but the SUV or station wagon you decide on can be both pleasant to drive, as well as providing a feeling of fulfilment in that you have taken care of your family’s needs.

Then, is it to be new or used? If you are wealthy and can take the 20% plus loss you will incur once you drive your new car out of the showroom, as well as carrying the additional hire purchase costs of a new car, you have no problem. All you need to do is define what you can afford.

But most car dealers have demo models with low mileages, which save you money and adjacent to their premises they have second-hand vehicles, often with low mileages, which will cost you even less.

If you are buying a brand with a reputation for reliability and a long warranty period, you can probably buy up to three years old without any problem.

Remember national manufacturers and distributors will often have special offers on cars. These are referred to as trade in assistance, but are essentially a discount. So do your research carefully, as this is a buyer’s market.

Remember that cars are a commodity, even though you may feel emotional about them. You should therefore explore the ways in which you can acquire a reasonably priced car, which will provide you with many years of good service and perhaps the easiest way to do this is to go to a car auction.

This is the way many dealers acquire their vehicles. Inspect the car you want carefully, preferably with a friend who knows about cars, and make sure your finance is in place before auction day and that you understand the commission structure of the auctioneers you are dealing with.

Once the car has been knocked down to you, it’s yours - there is no going back. Also, you are not protected by the Consumer Protection Act, although any remaining guarantee or motor plan on the vehicle can probably be transferred to you, but you should check on this.

The second purchase method is online. There are now many sites which offer cars and the entire transaction can be done without you even seeing the vehicle.

However, I am old enough to want to drive what I am buying and get the feel of the car. I find that you either like or dislike the controls and ride quality of a vehicle and, if you are going to spend R150 000 plus, you should enjoy what you are buying. In some cases arrangements can be made for you to drive the vehicle, but I would not make a purchase without seeing the car, although major motor sales sites may offer guarantees.

Then there is the used car dealer. Choose carefully and if the deal sounds too good to be true it usually is. Choose an experienced dealer with a long record of good service and is accepted by all banks.

Look for a dealer who will sell you a warranty extension so that you will have peace of mind for at least two years, while you integrate the payments into your household budget.

Good dealers will also not sell you anything you cannot afford and remember that these days the banks are only approving 30% of finance applications, so if the dealer suggests a more modest car, listen to him.

Good dealers will also provide service histories and mileage guarantees and some will even provide details of previous ownership.

Finally there is the newspaper or magazine advert, which may vary from completely legitimate sales to less desirable products.

Get the full service history and get previous ownership details if you can. Check the mileage and ensure that the car has not been in an accident.

It is a good idea to let the used vehicle you are buying be examined by an organisation like AA. It may sound like a great deal of trouble, but it is worth it.

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