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Your rights when selling your car

Selling your car? Do your research not only about your car but also about your rights as a seller. Arm yourself with information so that you have all the tools you need to negotiate properly and to sell your car on your terms.

Selling a car can be an intimidating experience, especially if it’s your first time. Paperwork can be confusing, advertising can be a nightmare, and who knows if you’re being scammed or not.

First, take a deep breath.

For starters, here's what you need to know about your rights:

Always remember whether you're buying or selling, you're protected by the Consumer Protection Act.

The seller

Make sure your car is in good working order. If it's not, disclose all the faults of the car to the buyer. Selling a car that's not roadworthy is illegal if the buyer isn't aware of it. If the buyer is aware of the cars history and condition, then it's OK to proceed with the sale. Don't feel pressured to do anything hasty just to get the car sold. You have the right to have your documents adequately prepared beforehand in order to insure everything remains legal and fair.

You have the right to choose how you’re going to sell your car. If you opt to sell your car privately, you can advertise your car sale via the internet or newspapers, and you can decide on your price. If you choose to sell your car privately, don't be afraid to use compelling advertisements to find buyers. When you find people that are interested, be sure to screen them carefully. You have the right to meet them privately, but make sure you keep your safety in mind. No sale is worth putting your life in danger.

While going to a dealer can be an easier option, it might not be the most lucrative when it comes to making a profit. But again, it is your right to choose. There are other options available to you too, including the option to trade-in and to sell your car via auction.

If you feel unsafe or you feel you might be being set up for theft, you have the right to decline a test drive, however this might impact the sale of the car negatively. There will always be another chance to sell your car. Be diligent and again, always keep your safety in mind.

You have the right to draw up an agreement of sale between yourself and the buyer. This agreement can and should indicate the date and time of the car’s collection, it’s the responsibility for the buyer to make sure that there aren’t any outstanding fines on the car.

Get as much as you can in writing. You never know what might happen after the car is sold and paperwork is the best way to keep track of what was agreed upon beforehand. This eliminates the "he said, she said" that can often come up with disputes. With everything in writing you can easily prove what was disclosed and agreed upon before, during, and after the sale of the car.

The buyer

The Consumer Protection Act gives you, the buyer the right to choose between repair, replacement or a refund if there is a problem with the car, within a 6-month period after buying the car. Even if the car was completely fine at the time of purchase, the buyer has the right to have the seller help fix whatever may be wrong with your car if it's in the 6-month window. Depending on what may be wrong with it, the buyer has the right to choose whichever options gives them the most sense of comfort.

For example, if the car's engine dies suddenly a week after purchase, the buyer might not feel comfortable keeping the car out of fear something else may go wrong. The buyer has the right to get a full refund since the purchase was within six months.

What happens if the sale doesn’t go as planned?

Thousands of cars are bought and sold in South Africa daily. However, there is no real guarantee that everything will go according to plan – especially if you’re doing a private sale. Don’t panic. Understanding the Consumer Protection Act will help you in the long run. If you’ve documented your process every step of the way, then a hitch in the plan shouldn’t shake you up too badly.
If a theft or scam has occurred, take all documentation to the police and file a report. If someone hasn’t come through with their end of the deal, you should have the signed agreement to fight for what you’re owed.

Always remembe whether you're a buyer or seller, don't ever feel pressured to lose your investment. Knowing your rights protects everyone and makes the process of selling or buying a car a much safer and somewhat more enjoyable experience. Good luck!

Protection by CPA is for sales conducted through a business and not private sales