Let's face it, cars in South Africa are some of the most expensive in the world. According to AutoTrader UK, a secondhand Toyota Corolla (2000) will set you back just under R17 500, while the same car - although a 1.6L - on AutoTrader South Africa is currently marketed for just under R70 000.
This, despite the fact that the South African Toyota Corolla has almost three times the amount of mileage as the UK counterpart. Got your attention? Okay, let's proceed.
Buying a secondhand car can be a daunting task, as you never know what you are getting yourself into. Even more, when you are not car-savvy.
Despite this, a used car is a viable option due to its affordability. Whether you are buying your teenager their first car or are simply looking for a muscle car, first identify what you want out of your used car before you do your research.
Buying a used car means your challenge will be to make the most of a used car's advantages while minimising any risks.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Search
It is important to know your financial limits - not just for the initial cost of the car, but for its future costs as well.
- How will you use the vehicle?
- How long do you plan to keep it?
- What are the features, size, style and appearances you would prefer or need?
- What is your budget or financial options for the purchase?
- Before looking at a car, do you know it's operation, maintenance and repair costs? Can you swing it?
What NOT To Do When You Search
- Forget to research.
- Limit your search.
- Fall for a sale's pitch.
- Take their word for it.
- Go it alone.
12 Point Checklist
While we know choosing a secondhand car may require you to make concessions on some 'quirks' of a secondhand car, there are certain things you just can't accept. If the car you are looking at has even one of the following deal-breakers, we suggest you look some place else.
- The name of the dealer has the word 'salvage'.
- There is rust all over the exterior.
- The interior smells like mildew or spoiled milk.
- There is evidence of water damage in the glovebox or under the rear seat.
- When you put a drop of oil from the dipstick on a clean dry rag, it is gooey or black.
- There are shiny metallic particles in the oil.
- The oil looks milky or smells like petrol.
- When you remove the oil filler cap, there are thick black deposits in the cylinder head.
- When snuffing the automatic transmission fluid dipstick, it smells burnt.
- If you wipe the dipstick on a clean, white rag, are there a lot of black particles or the fluid is dark.
- The engine's cylinders are 25% (or more) lower than the highest cylinder when you do a compression test.
- You hear knocking noises from the engine that get faster when you accelerate.
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