Buying a used car can be scary! It’s even scarier when buying a car privately – especially when you’re not knowledgeable about all the mechanical aspects…

Buying a second-hand vehicle is the only option for many of us, but not everyone is knowledgeable about engines, brakes, tyres, bodywork and other mechanical aspects.

If you fall into this category of car buyer, here are a few essentials that you need to know:

  • If you don’t have the time or inclination to go around and look for a vehicle, spend some time online as all brands and dealers are represented.
  • Decide how much you can afford to spend before you start looking. If needed, get a pre-approved loan from a bank.
  • Often mechanical problems are not disclosed when buying a vehicle, so obviously it’s important to find a trusted dealer that will reveal the vehicle’s history and divulge any potential problems (new online auto auction platform, test-drives and inspects all vehicles up for auction. A list of exactly what is wrong with the car is included in the online vehicle profile, allowing buyers to make an informed decision).

“Be aware that a roadworthy certificate isn’t a guarantee that the vehicle is problem-free. It simply means that it meets the minimum safety requirements”

  • Find out if the vehicle still has a service plan and warranty and when both will expire. The vehicle with the cheapest maintenance basket is your best bet. Locally, check out the Kinsey report or if you want an international opinion, JD Power reveals real insights from real car owners.
  • Find out if replacement parts can be sourced locally. If the vehicle you like needs parts from overseas, it can get expensive.
  • Look at acquiring a demo model as these cars are usually well priced and have low mileage as they are almost new.
  • Always insist on the car’s paperwork and service record as this will also give you some idea of the car’s history and how well it has been cared for.

The above advice will help you to avoid buying a dud or being ripped off by unscrupulous dealers, salespeople or private sellers wanting to get rid of problem cars.

Read this next: New year, new wheels: the smart girl’s guide to buying a car

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