Key steps to making sure you get the best used-car buy
Much of the current focus is on new-car buying. But far more people buy secondhand.
And by the looks of things, thousands more are going to purchase a used import this year too. Around 4,000 have already been registered in the new year - mere hundreds fewer than for all of January last year. So it is beginning to look like we can expect a significant increase.
Buying secondhand, especially abroad, is a riskier undertaking than purchasing new.
But you can significantly cut the risk, at home or abroad, by sticking to a few guidelines.
Here are a handful that might be of use.
1. Buy from a reputable outlet. If you buy privately, you have poor prospects of recovery if anything goes wrong.
2. If a car does not have a complete and authentic service history, walk away.
3. Don't be concerned about asking lots of questions. If there is hesitation or obfuscation, walk away.
4. Sort out your finances well in advance. Check for deals at dealers, credit unions, banks, special offers etc.
You'll save money. It is an intensely competitive market there.
5. Ask to speak with the former owner of the car. A garage/dealership/reputable seller should have no problem putting you in touch if you want, and the owner is agreeable.
6. Check the car's history - you could be landed with a previous write-off, a car that has been 'clocked' or with repayments outstanding.
7. Seek a six-month minimum guarantee.
8. If you have a trade-in, it might be better to sell privately and buy as a cash customer. Find out what price difference the dealer will come up with for the latter.
You might get less for your car privately, but you could still be ahead with the lower 'cash' price for the newer one.
9. If you have a doubt, no matter how small, the chances are your instincts are correct. Don't buy.
10. While all the talk is of used-value imports, give your local dealer a chance. There's a certain security in proximity.