By Nunben Dixon, Head of Auto at Gumtree South Africa
Buying a second-hand car requires extensive research, and even more so when the car is being bought online
There are always certain things to look out for to ensure that the purchase is legitimate, and that the car you are buying is in a good condition.
Buying a new car is a really big decision, whether it’s a pre-owned or new set of wheels
Until recently, most consumers conducted their pre-purchase research online before heading to a dealership to close the deal. However, the national lockdown has meant many shoppers have turned to online shopping, which has seen a sharp increase over the past few months, including more high-value purchases such as houses and cars.
Tightened budgets have also led to more pre-owned vehicle sales
In fact, the total value of pre-owned car sales in June 2020 increased by 46% compared to the previous month.
We recommend that all pre-owned car shoppers consider these important points before signing on the dotted line:
Balance your budget – and plan properly
If you don’t already have a monthly budget, creating one before buying a pre-owned car is a great time to start! Be honest with yourself and list all your expenses, so that you’re clear about what you can afford.
Remember to set aside some extra money for insurance, licensing, servicing and occasional repairs – particularly if you’re buying a car that’s out of motor plan. A fuel allowance is important too – and leave some room for occasional fuel price increases.
If you’re not sure how to calculate your monthly costs once interest has been added, there are handy online calculators to help.
Consider the mileage of a car compared to its age. Higher mileage cars may cost less, but they may cost more in maintenance. A car’s service history is also hugely important as it reveals how well a car has been looked after. Has it had its regular services at approved workshops and dealerships and, at the correct intervals?
When it comes to understanding the status of your car – the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is your go-to. It lets you know whether the car is stolen or if it’s been in an accident. Fortunately, reputable dealers will likely have partnered with a third-party service to free you of that hassle.
Research is key
Are you looking for a car to fit a family of four or for something smaller to take on the busy urban jungle? Understanding what you want to get out of the car will help you decide which one is best suited to you. Once you’ve ticked that box, look for customer reviews online for first-hand (and honest) experiences, and browse through online forums.
Checking the brand’s social pages like Facebook and Twitter will also give you a good idea of customer compliments and complaints surrounding a particular model. What’s more – you’ll gain great insight into how the brand interacts with their consumers.
Fuel economy is also important. Factor in consumption based on the model of your car and type of fuel. Wear and tear will have cost implications, too. If the car has been previously damaged, for example, it may require frequent services and/or repairs.
A trusted dealership
Buying online from a reputable dealer can help avoid a lot of the anxiety associated with buying a new or pre-owned car. They’re essentially responsible for the quality of the vehicle you’re looking to purchase and will have done the necessary background checks and roadworthy certifications.
A pre-owned car section is a guaranteed way to determine a dealer’s legitimacy – but just as you would research a car and brand’s reviews, do the same for the dealer. Learning about other customers’ experiences may help you avoid a bad one – or help you choose a dealership that takes care of its customers.