Heels & Horsepower Magazine


What Questions Should You Be Asking When Buying A Pre-Owned Vehicle?

Buying a car for the very first time can be extremely daunting if you don’t know how to go about it.  Fortunately, Motus Retail and Rental has compiled a list of simple questions which take the pain out of the car buying process.

Buying a new vehicle is a huge financial commitment so shopping around for the best deal is imperative. Very often pre-owned cars, even those with low mileage, can be found for quite a few Rands less than their new car equivalents, but there are a few questions you need to ask before signing on the dotted line.

Who am I buying from?

Who you buy a pre-owned vehicle from is by far the most important consideration for any car buyer.  While many websites advertise cars that are being sold by private sellers, buying a pre-owned vehicle in this manner has its risks. Vehicles sold privately or through stand-alone dealerships are largely voetstoots.

TIP: Be sure to research sellers by having a look at their website, social pages, and Google ratings.

Dealing with a national dealer group such as Motus, who owns all the vehicles that are listed for sale, affords the consumer peace of mind and recourse as well as a larger variety of vehicles to choose from.

What should I buy?

Filters on car websites help shoppers to narrow down their search according to the parameters which are important to each individual buyer.  These could include budget, model, specification, model year, or mileage. By applying filters when doing an online vehicle search, car buyers can quickly and easily create a shortlist of vehicles worth viewing in person.

TIP: The age and mileage of pre-owned vehicles will affect the price but anomalies to watch out for include cars with high mileage in comparison to their age. A good average is 20,000 – 25,000km per year.

Consumers often browse for choices online but affirm their decision from the touch and feel moment

– Corné Venter, CEO of Motus Retail & Rental SA
Is the vehicle as advertised?

Visiting the dealerships on your shortlist allows you to physically inspect the facility and the vehicle, and to ask more specific questions.

“Consumers often browse for choices online but affirm their decision from the touch and feel moment. Fortunately, when shopping with us, whatever the consumers select is exactly what they will get upon delivery,” said Corné Venter, CEO of Motus Retail & Rental SA.

Is the warranty and service plan still valid?

Warranty and service plans are time and mileage-based and expire when one of those parameters is reached.

TIP: If you are considering a vehicle without a service plan, you need to be more aware of the technical condition of the vehicle or have it checked by an independent expert.

Does the car have a full service history?

A full-service history means that the car was well maintained and this will have a direct bearing on the warranty of the vehicle.

TIP: A service history should be a serious consideration for any buyer as it can eliminate surprise costs in the future.

Has the car been in an accident?

An accident history that includes a minor bumper bashing that has been correctly repaired is nothing to worry about, however, buyers should lookout for any signs of serious damage or shoddy car repairs during the car’s life. 

TIP: An easy way to spot a repaired vehicle is via uneven body panel gaps and alignment.

Can I take it for a test drive?

A buyer should insist on taking the car for a test drive. This will allow you to get a feel for the vehicle, check that everything works as it should, and allow you to identify any apparent issues.

TIP: Turn off the radio to be able to hear any strange noises and take note if the vehicle veers to either side.

Have any major components been replaced?

If major components like the windscreen, tyres, or brakes have been recently replaced, this could save you extra money in the medium term. Conversely, if any of these items will need replacing soon, that could mean extra costs on the horizon.

TIP: Take note of the tyre tread as replacing tyres can be a costly exercise.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how trivial you think they might be and it is better to ask than assume. Listen careful to not only what the salesman says but all how he says it and use your intuition if you are not comfortable or confident with the answers you get.. Remember that you will be ‘stuck’ with the car you settle for for a minimum of 60 months so you need to be as certain as possible about the decision you make.

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