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    Everybody wants to buy a car at the lowest possible price. There is a large market for both new and used cars in South Africa, but anyone who has had to deal with car salespersons is well aware that they are difficult with which to deal. Indeed, the most skilled car sales representatives are capable of selling their wares for vastly inflated prices without the seller even being aware that he or she is getting short-changed. Fortunately, simply being aware of some of the most popular tricks that sellers use is a great way of ensuring that you get a good deal.

    Price Juggling

    Many drivers part exchange their old vehicle as part of the deal when buying a new car, as it can often reduce some of the cost. Unfortunately, some drivers are so obsessed with getting a great deal for their old car that they take their eye off the price of the new one. Owners set on offering an old vehicle as part exchange must be careful that the sales representative does not increase the price of the new car while haggling over the trade value of the old one. If offered a rebate for an old car, be sure to ask for it on the spot, since having a cheque posted home later may also result in extra fees or taxes. Finally, consider how much the vehicle is worth as a standalone sale and do a little market research before heading out to speak to a dealer. Salespersons rarely give a solid price for a vehicle taken in part exchange and simply taking the time to advertise the car in a classified ad may see a far larger sum of money come your way for an old car.

    Finance Charge Increases

    Even if a buyer has all of the cash ready to go, the dealer may attempt to offer financing options. It is usually unwise to accept a loan from a dealer since they often add money to any deal. For this reason, banks and professional lenders usually beat car dealers when it comes to interest payments on a large loan. Many lenders work with dealers to scam money from buyers in this way, so never take the word of a dealer when he or she insists that you are only allowed to borrow a certain amount of money at a certain rate. Check with banks and other professional lenders first and, on the rare occasion that a car dealer does offer a sensible financing plan, always check the small print. Many dealers may offer a loan that seems perfectly reasonable but ramp up fees in other ways. The small print of any contract may use benign words, like 'subject to approval' or 'if applicant passes a credit check', which may involve a return visit a few days later. If this is the case, extra fees may apply during the return visit. Scrupulously check all documents before signing anything and try to avoid signing any agreement that requires a return visit to the place of business.

    The Bait and Switch

    The famous 'bait and switch' is a marketing ploy used by unscrupulous dealers around the world and South Africa is no exception. In car sales, the technique involves advertising a vehicle devoid of the most basic features at a very low price. Once the buyer takes the bait and inquires about the car, the salesperson shows the buyer a similar model with better features at a much higher price. Never set your heart on any price you see in an advertisement, as it may allude to the most basic model that is completely unsuitable for your needs. Large dealerships that advertise these deals usually have a website where buyers can check inventories to see exactly how much the model they want costs. Writing the vehicle identification number down allows the buyer to take it along to the dealership. It gives a more realistic expectation of the actual price of the model in question and also lets the dealer know that they are up against a smart buyer.

    Today Only Deals

    A secondhand car dealership may insist that a deal is only available for a limited time. This claim is almost always nonsense and is squarely aimed at forcing the buyer to make a rash decision. Never be afraid to walk away if there are any doubts. Even if another dealer does not live up to expectations, there is nothing to stop you returning to the original dealer who shall doubtless still have the same deal available.

    Buying a car from a professional dealer is often hard work but a shrewd buyer always has the advantage. Never sign any documentation without thoroughly reading it and always ask about anything that you do not fully understand. If you are particularly concerned about the efforts of dealerships to divest you of as much cash as possible, there are other reliable ways to make a purchase in South Africa. Whether you want a BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, or any other new or used car, you may prefer to find the vehicle of your choice using classified ads or online marketplaces.

    Looking for a new car? Find it now on Gumtree.

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