What to look for when buying a pre-owned vehicle

Ask the right questions when shopping for a pre-owned car

Celeste Hewett
Questions to ask

Buying a pre-owned vehicle can save you a lot of money and it is a great way of driving your dream vehicle at a significantly reduced price, but there are certain things that buyers should look out for. Remember to ask these important questions when shopping for a pre-owned vehicle.

Who am I buying from?

Who you buy a pe-owned vehicle from is by far the most important consideration for any car buyer. While many websites advertise cars that are being sold by private sellers, buying a pre-owned vehicle in this manner has its risks. Vehicles sold privately or through stand-alone dealerships are largely voetstoots, which means that you will have no recourse should the vehicle develop a fault down the road.

Be sure to do research about sellers by having a look at their website, social pages, and Google ratings. Along with offering a larger variety of vehicles to choose from, dealing with a national dealer group such as Motus, who owns all the vehicles that are listed for sale, affords the consumer peace of mind and recourse due to the fact that customers are dealing with SA’s largest dealer group with dealerships right around South Africa.

Motus.cars is a convenient online platform offering endless variety, seamless navigation, and access to the widest dealer network in South Africa, all in one place.

What should I buy

The used car market offers a massive variety of various vehicles, but the ultimate decision is down to personal choice. Filters on reputable websites such as motus.cars aid shoppers in narrowing down their search, according to the parameters that are important to each individual buyer such as budget, model, specification, model year or mileage and allows visitors to easily create a short list of vehicles worth viewing in person.

The age and mileage of pre-owned vehicles will be used to determine the price but anomalies to watch out for include cars with high mileage in comparison to their age. A good average is 20 000 to 25 000km per year.

Is the vehicle as advertised?

While online shopping is a great way to locate the right car for your needs, visiting a physical dealership affords you the opportunity to physically inspect the facility and the vehicle and to ask more specific questions.

The touch and feel element is still an important part of the car buying process as it allows shoppers to determine if the car is in the condition it was advertised.

Is the warranty and service plan still valid?

Warranty and service plans are time and mileage based and expire when one of those parameters are reached. In most cases the balance of these plans will be transferred to subsequent owners. If you are considering a vehicle without a service plan, you need to be more aware of the technical condition of the vehicle or have it checked by an independent expert.

Does the vehicle have a full-service history?

A full-service history is a great indication of how the vehicle was maintained during its previous life and will have a direct bearing on the warranty of the vehicle.

A service history should be a serious consideration for any buyer as it can eliminate surprise costs in future and also ensure an adequate resale value when the time comes to sell again.

Has the vehicle been in any accidents?

An accident history that includes a minor bumper bashing that has been correctly repaired is nothing to worry about, but buyers should look out for any signs of serious damage during the car’s life.

There are a variety of tell-tale signs to a badly repaired vehicle including uneven body panel gaps and alignment, mismatched paint overspray and painted rubber components and vehicles displaying any of these signs should rather be avoided.

Can I take it for a test drive?

Buyers should always insist on taking the car for a test drive as this will allow you to get a feel for the vehicle, check that everything works as it should and allow you to identify any apparent issues.

Getting a feel for a vehicle is important in determining if the vehicle will fit you and your family and your needs and if it performs to your expectations.

When test driving the vehicle check that all systems work as they should, listen for any strange noises and take note if the vehicle does anything strange like veers to either side.

Have any major components been replaced?

Ask if major components like the windscreen, tyres or brakes have recently been replaced, this could save you money in the medium term. Conversely if any of these items will need replacing soon, that could mean extra costs down the road. Be sure to take note of tyre condition and tread as replacing tyres can be a costly exercise.

Browse our range of over 10 000 used and demo cars here.