Buy with your head, not your heart

Apart from your home, a car is often one of the most expensive purchases you will make. Initial decisions when buying a second-hand car based on aesthetics, status or performance can sometimes come back to haunt you if the purchase decision was made too hastily.

“When buying a used car, one of the most dangerous things you can do, is to buy with your heart. It doesn’t pay to get overly emotional over the vehicle you have in mind, as this could cause you to neglect doing the necessary research, checks and balances to ensure the purchase makes logical sense.

“Keeping your wits about you may just prevent serious buyer’s remorse later on,” said Les Mc Master, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA.)

One of the first warning signs you should look for in a used car is dirty oil.

“Remove the dip-stick and take a look, if the oil is black, walk away. Yes, maybe the thought of owning this particular car makes your heart beat faster, but this is exactly the kind of emotional decision you want to avoid.

“Take the car on a test drive too. If something feels off, have it checked again. It’s a good idea to break hard during your test drive. If the car swerves when you stop this could mean structural damage.

Unless you are prepared to spend a lot of money fixing the vehicle, my advice once again would be to walk away.”

The reality is that consumers are often faced with problems after a purchase, which could have been identified and corrected upon proper scrutiny at the time they were buying the vehicle. These consequences then end up being the consumer’s responsibility.

Here are some important and relevant checks to make before you buy your next car:

  • Service history authentication.
  • Checking what guarantees or warrantees exist.
  • If aftermarket warrantees or service plans do exist, take time to read and understand the conditions.
  • Checking when was the last service done and when last the cambelt was changed.
  • Combined fuel consumption stats.
  • Accident records and checks.
  • Finance agreement satisfaction.
  • Interest rate.
  • Understanding Balloon Payments and the terms of agreement.
  • Being clear on the “extras” in the finance agreement.
  • Investigating the general condition of the car, tyres, spare wheel, spare key etc.
  • Mileage verification.

Mc Master suggested that, if permissible, take the car for a visual report and test by an accredited workshop.


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