Do research when buying a second-hand car

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

A second-hand car is often the best option for cash-strapped consumers, but it can also end up being more expensive than it's worth.

Simphiwe Kenneth Ngema was looking to raise some money for construction work he was doing at home and decided to trade in his 1999 Mazda 626 for a cheaper car.

Ngema went to Summerset Leisure, a car dealership in Roodepoort, in order to trade in his Mazda for a 1994 Volkswagen Golf Chico that was sold to him for R45000.

"I saw an advert in the newspaper for cars on sale," said Ngema.

"I wanted to sell my car for R30000, and they would give me R15000 upfront. I took the car and the cash, but I soon realised that the car was a scrap and the engine doesn't work and now I must pay them each month. When I went back for my car they told me that they had sold the car."

Summerset Leisure chief executive officer Nic Charilaou gave a different version of the story. "Mr Ngema said he had a problem with the car we gave him, but we were always open for him to come change it. He was offered four cars to choose from. He has already swapped the first car we gave him for another one - the Golf."

Charilaou said that he paid Ngema R2000 for the Mazda at their first meeting and wrote out a cheque for R13000 on the next day. The remaining R15000 would be used as a deposit for a rent-to-own scheme (to bypass the stringent National Credit Act) for the Chico, which was being sold to Ngema for R45000.

Ngema admitted that he did not have the car mechanically tested.

The AA has several tips for buying a used car:

l A roadworthy certificate is not a guarantee that the car is problem free.

l Pay for a mechanical check. AA can do this.

l Look around to compare prices in classified and car buyers' guides.

l Look out for mileage, model, make and look for the best deal.

l Get a good look and look at the vehicle in the daylight.

l Ask to see the car's paperwork.