Need a New Car? Read These 9 Tips Before You Buy
It finally happened. Your beloved car has seen its last day. Or maybe you need more room to accommodate your growing family. Perhaps it’s time for a downgrade.
Exciting though, isn’t it? The shiny exteriors, the plush interiors, the advances in technology… You can finally get rid of those old cassettes!
But take a moment. This is a big purchase. One to be approached with a level head.
Put your coat and keys down and take a minute to read these tips before running down to your nearest dealer with a roll of fresh banknotes. You’ll be glad you did.
1. Work out what you need
If you’ve got a baby on the way, a flashy two-seater isn’t going to do the job. A Range Rover won’t help you find a parking space in the city, but might stop you getting stuck in the mud in the sticks.
Write a list. Define your criteria. If a vehicle doesn’t fulfil them, it’s out of the running. Doesn’t matter how great the sound system is if you can’t fit your buggy in the boot.
2. Work out your budget
Start by calculating your disposable income.
From that, work out two budgets. One for what you can afford to pay as a lump sum. One for monthly payments – spreading the cost with financing may be a better option for you. Leave some breathing room for running costs.
And don’t forget you may be able to trade in or sell your current car to Citton Buys Cars to cover part of the purchase.
3. Consider a used vehicle
‘New car’ can just mean ‘new to you.’ Even last year’s model will be significantly less than the newest edition. Just make sure you get a full service history.
Find out when it was last serviced, when it’s due for another, if that service will be covered by an existing warranty or service plan, and make sure there isn’t any structural or accident damage.
4. Decide how long you’ll keep it for
The average mileage on a used car is 20,000km/year on a normal sedan type, and 35,000km/year on a light commercial vehicle.
Mileage may not be a concern if you’re planning on trading in within the next three years. But if you need this vehicle to drive you into the next decade, you may want to be wary – the higher the mileage, the more worn around the edges it’s likely to be.
For real value, a fairly new model with low mileage will be barely distinguishable from brand new.
5. Take your pick
In South Africa, most models are easily available, with certified workshops nearby for servicing. This gives you the pick of the litter.
But be sure to compile a shortlist before you visit the dealership, so you’ve got a handful of choices that fit both your criteria and budget. This will keep you focused if your top choice doesn’t work out.
6. Calculate running costs
Think about petrol, insurance and maintenance costs. Older cars will likely cost more to run, if only because they’re less fuel efficient, meaning you spend more on petrol. They’re also likely to need more servicing.
Spending a bit more now on a service or maintenance plan may save you money in the future, or at least make servicing costs more predictable. If no plans are available, find out how much an extended warranty would cost.
7. Understand financing options
Understand what options are on offer before sitting down with a salesman to hammer out your deal. There should be no deposit to pay, and your first payment will usually be 60 days from signing.
How much you pay will be based on:
- Finance period
Up to 72 months. The longer the period, the lower the monthly payments, but the higher the overall total.
- Interest rate
If you’re on a tight budget, opt for a fixed rate to keep the payments predictable, and easier to budget for.
Question which ones you really need. Many are there for convenience, but may be cheaper elsewhere. However, an unlimited distance warranty is seriously worth considering.
Do consider warranties. They may cost you more in financing, but they could seriously save you money on servicing. And find out how much your comprehensive short term insurance will be before you commit to anything.
8. Take your time on a test drive
The test drive is your chance to find out if you really like this car, but all too often it turns into a short ride round the block.
Really put it through its paces. Have a poke in every compartment. Flick every switch. Find out what it’s like in different, but familiar situations. You’re going to be driving this car for a while. Don’t rush it.
If you like the car, ask for a diagnostic report. Ask to see the roadworthy inspection certificate and the original NaTIS document. Pay close attention to the year model, as the bank keeps original NaTIS documents until the car is paid off. Don’t let love cloud your judgement.
9. Don’t be afraid to visit more than once
Don’t feel pressured to make a commitment on your first visit. Sleep on it. Come back. Do a bit more research. Look at a few more models. Find out if the dealership has an on-site workshop with fully qualified technicians, in case any minor problems arise in the first few weeks of ownership.
Until you’ve signed on the dotted line, you’re under no obligation.
Ready to start browsing? We have hundreds of vehicles to choose from, all under one roof.
And feel free to comment below if you have any questions, thoughts or pearls of wisdom!