Buying A Used Car? Things To Look Out For

Let’s get this one out of the way. Cars depreciate. With a few outstanding exceptions, buying a new car as an investment is a bad idea. Cars are lasting longer and longer, but still lose most of their value early in their lifespan. While some models handle depreciation better than others, most shoppers can expect a new car to lose up to 50 percent of its value within three years of purchase.

Budding farmer Dumisani Dlamini says he has never bought a new car in his life and does not intend ever doing so.

“My father always used to say there is no such thing as a free lunch and unfortunately, that holds true with cars.  For all the perks that come packaged with new vehicles such as warranties, free maintenance, low financing, the inevitable law of depreciation remains a substantial cost and a great reason to shop used instead. I have a second-hand tractor, van and sedan and absolutely no regrets,” he says.

Dlamini says the nature of his business does not warrant him to be flashy but demands that he is as practical as possible and thus opting for used cars suits his purposes just fine.

Experienced Manzini motor-mechanic Tom Stewart says used cars are a great idea because they are usually affordable. He says before one decides to take this route, they need to ask the following questions;

  • Why are you selling the car?

The seller could answer this question in a few ways. They might be ready for an upgrade or perhaps the car’s size doesn’t suit their lifestyle anymore. It’s good to know the reasons behind this change because you might run into the same issues down the line.

  • How long have you owned the car?

If they recently purchased the vehicle and they are already selling it, take note as this could mean they ran into problems with car.

  • Who did you buy the vehicle from?

By asking this question, you should be able to get more details about how the car was driven, who the previous owners were and what’s happened over the lifespan of the car.

  • What’s the condition of the car?

Obviously, you’ll want to inspect the car yourself, but take note of what the seller says. This is the seller’s chance to disclose any issues they’ve had in the past, any current problems or flaws in the appearance.

  • How much mileage is on the car?

This is a chance to double check that the mileage quoted matches the car’s odometer. Can I see the blue book and your identification? You want to see this information to confirm that the seller is in fact the legal owner and to double check that the registration information matches with the car’s chassis and engine number.

  • Has the car been in an accident?

This is a chance for the seller to let you know about any accidents the car has been involved in, whether it be a minor fender bender or a major incident. Ask them to tell you where on the vehicle the damage occurred and what repair work was done.

Last but not least, he says it is important to research the model ahead of time and bring up any concerns you found to see if you’ll run into the same problems and then take a test drive with a professional mechanic before making your decision.

“Aim to spend up to 30 minutes on a test drive. You need time to evaluate how well the car runs and whether the car suits your lifestyle. If a private seller hesitates, invite them along for the ride. They’ll appreciate the chance to keep a watchful eye on their vehicle. It’s important that you take the car to a mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection so you can get an expert’s opinion on what’s happening with the car under the hood. If the seller hesitates then this could be a red flag that there’s something they don’t want you to know,” he says.

By asking the seller these questions, you’ll gain insight into what’s happened over the lifetime of your next potential car and what type of investment you’ll have to make in the years to come. Arming yourself with this information will help you make a confident and informed decision about whether the car you’re looking at is the right one for you.



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