As new car prices continue to soar and more South Africans look to tighten their belts, many are opting to buy a used car. While this savvy financial decision can shave a fair chunk off your bank repayments or savings budget, it is a market that still features a few wolves in sheeps clothing. How can you be sure that your second-hand car purchase is a sound investment that won’t come back to bite you in a few months time?
With a trusted reputation in the car buying and selling industry, we at Weelee want to guide you through 5 useful checks to conduct before signing on the dotted line:
#1 Check documents
Often, when you’re looking to buy a used car, your first priority is not doing a thorough examination of all the paperwork. But, if all the records for the vehicle are not in order, it begins to raise a number of red flags 🚩
Here are some of the important documents, giving you assurance that this car (and its previous owner/s) had their ducks in a row:
- Registration papers
- Roadworthy certificate
- Ensure the vehicle’s VIN number matches the car in question
- Records showcasing a full service history (you could also dig a little deeper and make sure the car has been serviced as often as it should have been and whether the owners used recognised service centres for the job)
- Make sure that all fines and fees associated with the vehicle are settled
- Information concerning accident history and subsequent repairs (Weelee provides a condition report, giving full transparency to the customer)
#2 Check the exterior
Although an obvious due diligence priority when it comes to buying a second-hand car, be sure that your inspection is really thorough by taking the following steps:
- Move the vehicle into the light (preferably outdoors during the daytime). If the owner or dealership refuses to move the car, this is a tell tale sign that they are trying to hide something
- Examine the car’s paint condition, rubber weather seals, functionality of lights, condition of the windscreen, glass on side windows, the rims and tyre tread
- Pay attention to the alignment of the panels. For example, if there is uneven alignment between doors, bonnet lid and body, this could be an indication that something is wrong or the car has been in an accident
Sometimes, the best way to provide reassurance that you are buying a quality used vehicle is by taking a trusted mechanic along with you. They will help to scrutinise the car and give it their thumbs up. (This will also come in handy with the checks that follow).
#3 Check the interior
The car’s cabin is not the first thing you notice when viewing it online, but it is a good indicator of whether the car has been well-maintained.
Ask the seller or dealer these questions during your interior inspection:
- Are the steering wheel and gear lever worn appropriately for the number of kilometres on the clock?
- Is there any moisture or signs of water damage under the footwell carpets? (This could be an indication of flood damage)
- Does the car have any stained seats, broken door handles etc?
#4 Check the mechanics
While your best bet is still to bring along a car fundi or trusted mechanic when buying a used car, any layman should be on the lookout for the following during a ‘mechanical’ inspection:
- Are all the car’s interior gadgets functioning? This includes electric windows, electric side mirrors, infotainment and sound system, windscreen wipers, trip measure, aircon, condition of digital screens etc.
- Check for oil leaks, worn out clutch, engine damage, saggy suspension, odd noises when the engine is running.
#5 Check the drive
The test drive is not only the most exciting part of buying a used vehicle, but it is also an essential step to uncovering any undisclosed issues. Get behind your potential future wheels with a clear mind focused on set objectives. Don’t be distracted or let your mind be clouded by minor ‘issues’ such as the mechanics of an indicator being on the opposite side of the steering wheel or navigating an automatic drive when you’re used to a manual one. Remember that buying a pre-owned car is a major investment. You want the car to continue driving for a number of years.
Opt for a different course to that suggested by the salesperson. Assess the pre-owned vehicle’s acceleration, torque, braking, steering, ability to handle speed bumps and suspension. Turn off the radio and take note of any unusual noises during the drive.
Before you sign is always the time to ask any questions you might have. Leave nothing up in the air.
Visit the Weelee Megastore
At Weelee, we pride ourselves in providing our buyers with quality, low mileage pre-owned cars in excellent condition. We operate with transparency regarding service history. We supply any potential buyers with detailed condition reports to put their minds at ease.
Don’t be taken for a ride with shady salespeople and dishonest advertising.