Buy a second-hand car with confidence

Posted on Monday, August 17, 2015

Buying a second-hand car can be a daunting task. You want a reliable car at the best possible price but where do you start? How do you even begin to negotiate the notoriously troubled waters of second-hand car purchases? Here are eight tips to help you find the pre-loved car of your dreams.

Work out what you can afford
Use one of the nifty calculators available online to work out how much you can afford to spend on your new baby. We like the Carfin and AutoJunction calculators.

If this is your first car remember that the total cost of ownership also includ es insurance, repairs and petrol costs. Most importantly, be realistic about what you can afford and the impact it will have on your finances!

Decide on what type of car you need
Think about your lifestyle and what you will use your new' car for. If you visit family in the countryside over the weekends, then go for something more rugged. If you spend a lot of time driving around in the heat of the day, make sure that you get air-conditioning. And if you are planning to have kids sometime soon then buy a four-door car with plenty of boot space and great safety features! If you are not sure what type of car you want, spend a few weekends test driving a few options in your price range.

Find a reputable dealer 
Here is the golden rule: buy from a reputable dealer. But how do you know if a dealer is on the straight and narrow? A good place to start is to visit the RMI or Independent Dealer Association websites and search for a dealer in your area. Buying from a dealer that is registered with either of these associations means that they will step in to help you if you have a dispute with that dealer.

Car shopping for pros
You might love the colour but remember that beauty is only skin deep. Request a full service history and ask if the car has ever been in an accident. Don't forget to consider mileage. The average car does around 30 000km per year, so if a car has done more than that each year you know it has been worked hard!

Once you have found a car you like, phone a few of dealers to check the price against the same make of car with similar mileage. Shopping around is important if you want to get the best possible deal.

Get financed
Some car dealers will process car finance for you, while others will require you to apply through your bank. Beware of residual or balloon payments, which mean you will pay less back on your loan each month but will have a large lump sum to settle at the end of your loan term.

Remember that you will need a copy of your ID, proof of residence, a salary slip and three months' bank statements to get the ball rolling. You will also need a clean credit rating so run a free credit check through a company like Experian or TransUnion.

Look after your purchase
Cars need maintenance and maintenance doesn't come cheap. If possible buy a service and maintenance plan for your car. If you do not have a service plan be sure to save a certain amount of money every month towards your next service.

Go easy on the accessories
If you're budget conscious spend your money on the accessories that you really need and not on kitting out your car with all the bells and whistles like mag wheels, a sound system or a sports kit. Add-ons that might be useful to you are air-conditioning, smash and grab protection for your windows or a tracking system.

Get insured
Unfortunately theft and accidental damage to cars are a reality. If the worst ever happens the costs of replacing or repairing your car should be the least of your worries. You've spent a lot of money on your new wheels so look for a good car insurance deal from a company you can trust.

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