Buying a used car can be an exciting yet stressful process. When purchasing a preowned vehicle you want to be sure that you are getting the best deal, while also walking away with a vehicle that is both reliable and dependable. To avoid getting swindled, there are some things you need to do. Follow this used car buying checklist when buying a used car in South Africa to ensure that you make good choices in your car purchase.
Check the Car's Exterior
When looking at a used car for the first time, it is imperative that you give the exterior of the car a thorough inspection. Look for any discrepancies in the paint or body parts, and make sure that the tyres show even wear. Make sure there are no cracks or breaks in the glass, and test the headlights and windscreen wipers to see that they are working. Don't be afraid to open and close all the doors, including the bonnet and the boot, to make sure they aren't loose or broken. Also look at the frame of the body for signs of any damage.
Open Up the Bonnet
Look under the car's bonnet and check for any worn belts or leaky hoses. Inspect the radiator water and make sure that it is light yellow or light green in colour, and see that the automatic transmission fluid is clear with a reddish tint. Also make sure that the oil is not dirty. Take a look at the car's battery and unscrew one of the caps to check the electrolyte level and make sure it is not low. Some car batteries have a charge indicator that will tell you the battery's condition; a green indicator means that the battery is in good shape, while yellow or black means that it will die soon. If you can't do this visual inspection on the battery, most mechanics can test the battery and determine its lifespan.
Look Under the Car
Don't be afraid to get down on the ground to make a good examination of the vehicle's undercarriage. Feel the tailpipe and make sure it is dry; if there is black, greasy residue it could be burnt oil. Also look for signs of heavy rust or broken parts. Check to make sure there are no drips or puddles from leaking oil or fluids.
Inspect the Interior
Next, move on to the vehicle's interior, and make sure that you don't smell any musty odours or see any visible upholstery damage. Turn the vehicle on to double check that all of the warning lights and gauges are in working order, and make sure no warning lights remain lit on the dashboard after the initial startup. Also let the engine run for a few minutes and listen for any strange sounds or look for smoke; you want to make sure that the vehicle is smooth while idling. Look for any excessive wear and tear on the pedals, and check the roof to make sure that it isn't sagging or leaking. Also test the radio or sound system to make sure it is working.
Go for a Test Drive
Take the car for a test drive to see how it handles on the road. Make sure you go fast enough to feel that the transmission shifts smoothly. Look to see if the steering wheel shakes at all while driving, and try some tight turns to make sure that the car goes into turns smoothly. Also test to see if the vehicle pulls to the left or the right while braking.
Bring the Car to a Mechanic
There are only so many things a visual inspection can tell you. Even though the car may look and run fine, there could be underlying problems that won't show themselves until after you purchase the car. To prevent an unpleasant scenario such as this, bring the car to a mechanic you trust for a thorough inspection before you purchase. A good car seller should be willing to work with you, especially if you are serious about buying the car provided that it passes the inspection.
Inspect the Paperwork
If you plan to go through with the purchase, the last thing you need to do is make sure that the paperwork is all in order. Examine the names on the vehicle's documents, and ask for identification so that you can verify that the seller really is the vehicle's owner. Also ask the seller if there are any service documents. While these aren't necessary or always available, it can be very helpful to know what work has been done to the vehicle in the past.
Buying a used car in South Africa is often a solid investment and can enable you to get a good vehicle at an affordable price, but it is always necessary to do your homework first. Following this used car checklist will increase the chance that the vehicle you purchase is dependable, and that you don't waste your money on a car that is not reliable.