Pre-owned vehicles are cheaper but riskier: Questions to ask when buying a used car

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Scouring the internet for a pre-owned vehicle
Scouring the internet for a pre-owned vehicle

• When buying a new car, albeit used, consumers need to ask the right questions.

• Prospective buyers are encouraged to conduct business with reputable dealers.

• Buying a pre-owned vehicle may be cheaper, but it is not without risk.

For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24

Buying a new vehicle is a huge financial commitment, so shopping around for the best deal is imperative. Very often, pre-owned cars, even those with low mileage, can be found for quite a few rands less than their new car equivalents, but there are a few questions you need to ask before signing on the dotted line.

Who you buy a pre-owned vehicle from is by far the most crucial consideration for any car buyer? While many websites advertise cars that are being sold by private sellers, buying a pre-owned vehicle in this manner has its risks. Vehicles sold privately or through stand-alone dealerships are largely voetstoots.

TIP: Be sure to research sellers by looking at their website, social pages and Google ratings.

Dealing with a national dealer group who owns all the vehicles listed for sale, affords the consumer peace of mind and recourse, and a wider variety of vehicles to choose from.

new car,buying a new car
Scouring the internet for a pre-owned vehicle

What should I buy?

Filters on websites aid shoppers in narrowing the search according to the parameters that are important to each individual buyer. These include budget, model, specification, model year or mileage and create a shortlist of vehicles worth viewing in person.

TIP: The age and mileage of pre-owned vehicles will affect the price, but anomalies to watch out for include cars with high mileage in comparison to their age. A good average is 20 000 - 25 000km per year.

Is the vehicle as advertised?

Visiting the dealerships on your shortlist allows you to physically inspect the facility and the vehicle and ask more specific questions.

Corné Venter, CEO of Motus Retail & Rental SA, said: "Consumers often browse for choices online but affirm their decision from the touch and feel moment. Fortunately, when shopping on, whatever consumers select is exactly what they will get upon delivery."

Is the warranty and service plan still valid?

Warranty and service plans are time and mileage based, and expire when one of those parameters are reached.

TIP: If you are considering a vehicle without a service plan, you need to be more aware of the vehicle's technical condition or have it checked by an independent expert.

new car,buying a car
Buying a pre-owned vehicle

Does the car have a full-service history?

A full-service history means that the car was well maintained and will have a direct bearing on the vehicle's warranty.

TIP: A service history should be a serious consideration for any buyer as it can eliminate surprise costs in future.

Has the car been in any accidents?

An accident history that includes a minor bumper bashing that has been correctly repaired is nothing to worry about. Still, buyers should look out for any signs of serious damage during the car's life.

TIP: An easy way to spot a repaired vehicle is via uneven body panel gaps and alignment.

Can I take it for a test drive?

A buyer should insist on taking the car for a test drive. This will allow you to get a feel for the vehicle, check that everything works as it should and allow you to identify any apparent issues.

TIP: Turn off the radio to hear any strange noises and take note if the vehicle veers to either side.

Have any major components been replaced?

If major components like the windscreen, tyres or brakes have been recently replaced, this could save you extra money in the medium term. Conversely, if any of these items will need replacing soon, that could mean additional costs on the horizon.

TIP: Take note of the tyre tread, as replacing tyres can be a costly exercise.

Venter concluded: "In this day and age consumers are looking for partners they can trust, Motus takes the guesswork out of shopping for a pre-owned vehicle and ensures a peace of mind shopping experience from start to finish."

new car,buying a car
Looking to buy a pre-owned vehicle
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Do you think Mercedes will return to form later in the 2022 F1 season after two poor races?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, don't discredit them.
34% - 498 votes
Who cares, F1 is exciting again!
43% - 638 votes
No, it's Ferrari's turn to dominate again.
23% - 338 votes