Tips for buying a used car

June 1, 2017

Tips on buying a used car

All that glitters isn’t always gold. And just because a car looks perfect on the outside, that doesn’t mean it functions properly. There are many panel beaters who can transform a car and make it look brand new. When you buy a used car you need to make sure you’re getting what you paid for and aren’t being taken for a ride.

Here are a few things you should look out for when buying a second-hand car.

Forget love at first sight

Take your time before you make the purchase. Don’t be an impulse buyer, especially when it comes to buying a used car, you may live to regret it. Buying a car on a whim will not give you enough time to do a thorough inspection and make sure there isn’t anything wrong with it. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the car doesn’t meet your standards.

Take it to the mechanic

Don’t buy a car from a family friend or colleague just because you like them. First, inspect the car to make sure it’s actually in good condition.You should ask a mechanic to do a thorough assessment of the car you want to purchase. A mechanic will be able to inspect it and find out if it has any damages which could cost you in the long run.

Salvage Title

The owner could be selling the car because it was totalled at one point. If it has a salvage title, it was either stolen and then stripped,involved in the accident where it was a total loss or the car was flooded by water. A salvage car cannot be liable for registration and is not roadworthy.

Rebuilt car

Just because a car was rebuilt, that doesn’t mean it’s in the right condition. Sometimes the mechanic rebuilding a salvage does a poor job and this may end up draining your pockets in the long run. You might encounter maintenance and repair costs in the future to keep your car running. In order for a vehicle to qualify as being a rebuilt salvage, it has to be approved by a trained law enforcement officer first.


Check the necessary paperwork. Ask the seller for the proof of payment and previous owner records so you’ll know it wasn’t stolen. And you’ll also know how many owners it’s had during its lifetime. If a car has had many owners over the years, it should set off alarm bells. For example, If its had 4 owners over a 3-year period it could be an indication that the car is faulty and has mechanical problems.

Service records

You need to make sure you get the service records from the seller so you know the car has been well maintained over the years. If the car was neglected and wasn’t serviced on a regular basis, you could have many problems with your car.

Test drive the car

Take the car for a test drive before you buy it. But before you even set a foot in the car, do an exterior inspection. Inspect the body panel for any corrosion, scratches or dents. Check the tyres of the car, do the tyres match in size and are they the same brand? Check for any leaks under the car (make sure you do this both while the car is running and when it’s off).

When you drive the car, keep the radio off and pay attention to any strange noises. Does the transmission run smoothly? Does the air conditioner work? And also make sure there’s no mouldy smell in the car, this could be a sign of a water leakage.  

Signs of overspray

Look out for signs of overspray on the car. If the car has been repainted, it could mean it was in an accident and the seller might not have disclosed the information to their insurance company. You could take a paint gauge to detect if there has been a paint job done on the vehicle.

Safety first

When you go for the test drive take precaution and make sure you go with someone. And meet the seller in a public setting. If you can’t find anyone to go with, you must let your family members know where exactly you’ll be going and with whom.

Before you buy a second-hand car, first do your homework on the car and the seller. Make sure the seller is trustworthy and they won’t rip you off. You could be searching for a used VW Polo for sale or an Audi, just make sure you get your money’s worth and you scrutinise the car first before you purchase it.



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