Dangers of private car sales

February 16, 2017

Dangers of private car sales

Purchasing a car privately should be handled with extreme caution. There are many risks that can occur when shopping for a vehicle privately. There are many con artists waiting for the first opportunity to take advantage of an unsuspecting buyer. So it’s necessary to take the time to do a background check on the potential buyer/seller and also on the vehicle.

Do a thorough Investigation

The car should be inspected extensively to make sure it’s in good condition. The car might have serious problems that could later increase the maintenance expenditure on the vehicle. Many people who buy cars privately later complain of some part that is faulty in the vehicle. The seller might not disclose this during the sale. The potential buyer needs to check if the air conditioning, speakers, mirrors, and electric windows are in good condition. If not, the buyer might have to pay more than they bargained for on the vehicle.

Make sure it’s legit

A background check of the car is needed to ensure that it is not stolen. The buyer must make sure they do not leave any loopholes. Has the seller finished paying off the car? If the seller is behind on payments, then this is problematic as the seller will be held responsible for the outstanding amount. The seller does not have the actual right to sell the vehicle in the first place. If the payments are not made then the bank has the right to repossess the vehicle.

Ask crucial questions

What was the vehicle used for? Has it been involved in any collisions? When was it bought? How many kilometres has the car done? It is imperative that you ask the necessary questions about a vehicle. The buyer should make sure they compare the vehicle to other ones in the market, so they do not find themselves in a situation where they are paying more for the car.

Request documentation

Is the vehicle stolen? This needs to be investigated by checking the car’s registration to the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification number). If the vehicle is stolen without your knowledge, the police will take it back to its original owner. The buyer should request the necessary documentation that will serve as proof that the vehicle is not stolen. The Automobile Association renders services where they will inspect if a car is stolen. They just need a few details such as engine number of the car, colour of the car, registration and the mileage of the vehicle.

Test Drive

  • When you test drive a car, a person should make sure that they take all the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves. It’s better to meet the seller at the police station, than at your house. If they cannot meet you for some plausible reason at the police station then it’s better to meet them in a crowded area in the busiest time of the day
  • It’s also advisable that someone knows where and when you are meeting the seller of the vehicle. They can alert the police if a suspicious activity occurs.
  • If it’s possible, take a friend with you to test drive. A scam artist will find it harder to con you with other people around, and he will be caught off guard.
  • Make sure you have a fully charged cellphone with you so, if you are in danger, you will be able to alert the police immediately.

Written or verbal contract

The South African law accepts both written and verbal contracts. However, it’s advisable that that the contract be written as it will be enforceable in a court of law.

Common Sense

When you are purchasing or selling a car, try to use common sense.

Do they ask you to wire large amounts of money to a foreign bank account and then give you many excuses about why they cannot give you your vehicle yet?

Do they shy away from giving you the essential documents you may need? Number plates may be covered in the pictures they use in their advertisements?

Do they avoid meeting up at a local police station and insist on meeting you at their house or a deserted place?

Are there grammatical and spelling errors in their advertisements?

Look out for the key signs in order to protect yourself.

A potential buyer or seller must make sure that they have thoroughly done their homework on the vehicle before the transaction takes place. They must make sure that their safety is a key priority. The potential buyer needs to confirm that the vehicle that they purchase is in the right condition. Private car sales can be quite dangerous. People need to take the necessary measures that will benefit them in the long run, so they know they are getting their money’s worth.

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