Tips to consider when shopping for a used car

Buying a used car is a great way to save money, but shoppers need to proceed with caution in order to avoid unnecessary costs down the road

It is a well-known fact that new cars lose a big percentage of their value as soon as you drive them off the showroom floor. Although global stock shortages mean that used car prices are higher than what they have ever been, buying a used car is still a great way to drive your dream car at a reduced price. 

Buyers looking to take advantage of the savings to be had by buying a used car need to take their time, do their research and thoroughly check the vehicle before signing on the dotted line to ensure that you are not left stranded on the side of the road a few months later. By following these guidelines buyers can drastically reduce the risk associated with buying a used car.

Shop at a reputable dealer
Who you buy a used car from is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for new wheels. Many vehicle aggregating sites advertise vehicles being sold by stand alone traders or even private sellers, but buying a vehicle in this manner can be risky as these vehicles are sold voetstoots, meaning what you see is what you get and they are under no obligation to disclose any known issues

Dealing with facilities that are owned by large groups or that are part of a franchised dealership group ensures added peace of mind and recourse in the event of any issues with the vehicle or the buying process. As always it is important to do research about whom you are buying from

What should you buy?
Doing research on websites that lists many cars from a variety of dealerships allows shoppers to compare a variety of the same models and search for the best deal. The age and mileage will affect the price but steer away from vehicles with high mileage in comparison to their age. A good average is around 20 000km per year.

Is the warranty and service plan still in place?
The warranties and service or maintenance plans sold as part of the new car price are time and mileage based and will expire when one of those parameters are reached. If you are considering if a vehicle without a service plan or warranty or one where those plans have already expired, you will need to be more aware of the technical condition of the vehicle in the hope of avoiding any costly repair bills in future. 

Check the service history
A service history is a big positive as it means that the vehicle was well maintained in line with the manufacturers guidelines. A complete service history will have a direct bearing on the validity of the warranty and will also reduce the chance of any surprise repair or maintenance costs down the road

Has the car been in any accidents?
Accident damage from a minor bumper bashing is not a cause for concern, but have a good look for any signs of serious damage during the cars past life. Tell tale signs include uneven panel gaps, mismatched paint or trim pieces that have been carelessly painted or incorrectly fitted

Take the vehicle for a test drive
Taking the vehicle for a test drive will allow you to get a feel for the vehicle and ensure that everything works, as it should. Inconsistent steering or any strange noises could hint at a serious issue. Check that everything works and that there are no warning lights illuminated on the dashboard. Pay particular attention to the gearbox, whether manual or automatic, ensure that gears are selected smoothly and quietly.

Check the tyres
Take particular note of the tyre tread, brand and age, as replacing tyres can be a costly exercise. If expensive items like the tyres, windscreen or brakes have recently been replaced, this will mean a saving for you in the medium term.

Have the car checked by a professional
If the car is not sold with a quality report from a reputable independent assessor, request that this be done. These checks by professionals can help identify any current issues and avoid potential future issues