Purchasing a vehicle for the first time can be tricky. There are many people who have bought vehicles that fall under the term “lemon car”. Owning a second-hand vehicle doesn’t need to be difficult or frustrating, there are ways to ensure you buy a car that's in great shape. Here are a couple of helpful tips for you when buying a second-hand car.

Think things through

When looking for a vehicle you will find many offers of used cars for sale, but it's important you remain objective. Take your time when choosing your car especially if you’re planning on buying from a private seller.

It’s quite often that a seller might lie to you about the actual condition of the vehicle. Even though it is your choice whether you would buy from a private seller or a dealership it can be better for you to approach a trusted car dealership. When buying from a trusted dealer you’re likely to get your dream car and have peace of mind that you won’t be sold a lemon.

Do your research

Buying a second-hand vehicle can be tricky, but doing your research thoroughly can help you in choosing the right vehicle. You can find plenty of affordable cars that are in good condition online. The good thing about the internet is that you can get the latest car news, you can find reviews of dealerships, and see what people have to say about them. Reviews can give you an idea of what type of second-hand cars they sell.

Go for reliability

The best way to avoid buying a troublesome vehicle is for you to buy vehicles that are known to be reliable. The problem with most car buyers is that they don’t necessarily worry about reliability but worry about looks and the car model. The problem with that is that you can find many “good looking” vehicles which aren’t reliable. When doing a car search ask your friends and family or even a mechanic you know which vehicles are good and can withstand the test of time. There are plenty of vehicles sold in South Africa so you shouldn’t assume all are unreliable.

Take the vehicle out for a test drive

The term “never judge a book by its cover” doesn't only apply to books and people, it applies to vehicles as well. This is why it's always helpful to take the vehicle for a test drive. By doing this you can hear and check to see if there are any issues the seller isn’t telling you about. More so if it seems like you’re getting a special deal, if it seems to good to be true, it usually is.

Do a car inspection

Bring a family member or friend who knows things about cars during the inspection. Take a look at everything and ask the relevant questions. If the advertisement said it had a power steering, central locking, electric windows or an electric mirror, double check to see if there was no false advertising and to make sure everything actually works.

Also, take a careful look to ensure that there hasn’t been any paint jobs or small dents, which can be telltales of an accident. If you’re planning on getting car finance then it is crucial that you do an inspection in order to get financed. Check under the hood, as the engine can be a big problem, so, you should always check it before buying a second-hand vehicle.

The cars engine, battery, and radiator should not be greasy. Make sure you look for spots that are wet or have oily spots as that can indicate that something is wrong. You should also check your tyres if you noticed anything odd you should look into it. Worn out looking tyres could mean something is wrong with the brakes, steering, or suspension.

Keep in mind that most financial services look at the age of the car, and buying a very experienced vehicle can cause issues with the lender and car insurance. Be sure to take the vehicle for roadworthy testing.

Check the documentation

Before you go and sign the paperwork, make sure you go through all the documents. Make sure that the seller's name is on the title to avoid fraud. The paperwork that you would need from your seller include:

  • Proof of ownership
  • Notification of change of ownership
  • Application for registration of a motor vehicle
  • Vehicle registration certificate
  • Sales receipt
  • Roadworthiness certification
  • Car history and receipts  

Trust your instincts

One thing you should always keep in mind is to trust your instincts. Even if you see a second-hand car for sale that you absolutely love, always do your research and listen to your instincts. If it feels to good to be true then chances are that it really is. If you feel as if you’re being pressured into buying a vehicle then don’t take the offer.