Used car shopping? Includes Extended Warranty, and other tips

With reports showing an eight percent increase in used car sales in the last quarter of 2023, South Africa’s used car market is booming. Before investing in a used car, identify your budget, and be sure to include items like Extended Warranty and car maintenance in your plans. With these car care products in place, you can drive your new, previously-loved vehicle with peace of mind. 

1. First, know your budget. When working out your budget, remember to include car insurance, car maintenance and fuel costs. 

2. Remember to include Extended Warranty, Service and Maintenance Plans in your budget to protect you against out-of-warranty cars and service costs. Browse our website for more information on Extended Warranties, Service Plans and Maintenance Plans through MotorHappy.

Unsure of the difference between the three products? Read our blog: Extended Warranty, Service Plans and Maintenance Plans explained

3. Once you’ve narrowed down your budget, begin shopping for your previously loved vehicle. Browse the many online options in South Africa for reliable used cars. 

4. When you find a vehicle you like, take the car for a test drive, and inspect it thoroughly. A physical inspection of the car you choose is vitally important, as it will tell you what the paperwork does not. Enlist the help of an expert if you have access to one. If not, use this list to check when inspecting your prospective vehicle:

  • Check the car’s service history against the manufacturer’s maintenance period recommendations.
  • Open the bonnet and look for oil leaks below the engine, inspect the electrical wiring in the engine compartment for burnt wires, inspect the radiator for leaks and cracked plastic tubing. Also inspect the radiator fluid.  
  • Check the body for misaligned panels, uneven gaps, or mismatched paint. These are signs of potential accident damage.
  • Inspect the tyres. Uneven wear is a sign of unbalanced wheels, misaligned suspension, or worn shock absorbers. If possible, turning the tyres all the way to one side allows you to look at the brake pads. Check or question if these still have an acceptable life.
  • Start the engine while listening (and feeling) for any “out of place” noises when starting it up, when it is idling, or when it is revved.
  • Look at the wear and tear on the carpet, pedal rubber and gear stick.  These should match the mileage of the car.    
  • Test drive it. Not just around the dealership, take it onto a highway as well. Make sure you concentrate on the sounds the engine makes (so turn off the radio), the “feel” of the clutch, whether the basics such as indicators, wipers, radio, air con, hazard warning lights, windows and doors, fuel gauge, odometer, speedometer and seat belts all work properly. For more tips, read our blog: How to test drive a car like a mechanic.
  • Get advice from people you know who have the same car your heart (and wallet) is set on.

5. Consider whether it’s a good lifestyle fit. If you have children or an adventurous lifestyle, check that the car fits all your gear such as prams, infant car seats, bikes and more.

6. Conduct research to find out more about the car’s strengths and weaknesses. Look beyond the aesthetics of a car and assess its worth based on safety, comfort, and drivability. Check out the car reviews on our blog.  

7. Use an online calculator to assess the car’s depreciation rate. This will help when deciding between two similarly priced cars, as you might want to opt for the car with a lower rate of depreciation.

8. Shop around! Try other cars in the price/car type range, so that you’re able to compare, and get a good sense of what else is available.

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