Buying a second-hand vehicle can be a nerve-wracking experience. There's so much to look out for and so many dodgy vehicles on South African roads. So, we've got a few tips from UK driver training specialist IAM Drive & Survive.
- Do your research. There are many websites out there suggesting "what to look for" when buying a second-hand car. Here's a good example from the AA.
- Blown turbo chargers, snapped timing chains, smoking engines — all these and more can result from delaying an oil change or using the wrong oil. Ask for the service history and take time to look through it. If a service is due, negotiate on the price, but if the history's missing, walk away.
- Dashboard lights check all the systems such as ABS and stability control. Make sure they all light up when you turn on the ignition and go out when you start the engine. Check the handbook if you're not sure you've seen them all.
- After starting the engine, listen carefully for the first few seconds — any knocks or rattles are bad signs. Grey exhaust smoke is a sign of a worn engine — check it after your test drive when the engine is hot.
- As well as checking the suspension by listening for rattles or clunks over rough roads, try stopping at different rates — gently and rapidly. The engine should never stall as the car stops and the revs shouldn't drop very low and then pick up to the right idle speed.
- Reject a car if you have any concerns. Cars are too often an emotional rather than a rational choice. If in doubt, sleep on it and make a decision in the morning.
"Getting a new car, whether it's brand new or new to you, is an exciting time. It's also an expensive time, so the last thing you want is to pick a dud," says IAM Drive & Survive's head of training Simon Elstow.
"Do your preparation before you go so you know what you're looking for. If you're not confident take a friend, get it checked at a garage, or ultimately walk away."
Also read: Most reliable used car brand