If you are interested in buying a pre-owned car, ensure that you make the right choice to prevent headaches in future. Here are ten tips on how to buy a used car.

Budget & needs

Be realistic about what you can afford and stick to your budget. Consider any repairs you may have to do and the increase in fuel if it varies to what you are currently driving. Think of your current lifestyle and what you might need in terms of finishes and space, etc.


Draw up a shortlist of vehicles you like. Don’t decide on only one brand or model – consider and test drive at least three options.


If you are interested in a certain model of car, read up about it in car magazines and online forums. Chat to friends with similar cars. Visit Surf4Cars to get an idea of car prices, year model and kilometres.


Ask around about the cost of a service if the vehicle is no longer under a motor plan. Also consider where you live and if you have easy access to service centres. For example, some models might only keep parts in major cities.

Reputable dealerships

If you want to buy a car from a dealership, ensure it’s well established. With any future issues, you’ll have a better chance to have your car fixed at a reputable dealership. You will know that the car hasn’t been stolen and that you’ll have an up-to-date service history.


Never buy the first vehicle you like or see. Remember to negotiable. If buying from a car dealership, get them to include all on-the-road costs (this includes registration etc).

Ask questions

If you are buying a car privately, your first communication will most likely be an email or phone call. Be sure to ask lots of questions, such as:

Why are they selling the car?

What was the car mainly used for?

What kind of daily trips did they do?

Have they done many long road trips?

Have there been any recent repairs?

Has the car been involved in any serious accidents?

When last were the tyres replaced?

If you are buying a used car from a dealership, ask them why the mileage is high or why the interior looks bad.


Once you are ready to meet the seller, be sure to take someone with you. A safe place to meet is outside a police station, and ask the person to bring along their ID. Never meet where you live, rather yours or their place of work.


When buying a car voetstoots ensure that you have all the necessary information. Check that the service log book is up to date. Although the Consumer Protection Act states that sellers must reveal all defects, it can be a pain to get your money back.


A roadworthy test is a legal requirement in South Africa and must be done every time a vehicle changes ownership to ensure that it meets the necessary safety standards.

By Wanita Wallace