Buying Tips 2: The car dealer

2013-06-05 11:55

A friend of the family contacted me recently wanting to know the easiest and safest way to buy her next used car. “Does she buy privately, visit a reputable dealer, buy over the internet, or visit the auction rooms?” she asked.

All good questions, let's see if I can give you some answers. In part two of the “Buying a car made simple” series we take a look at the pros and cons of purchasing from a dealer.


Quite often good used car lots can be found adjacent to a new car dealership. In my previous column I advised that you check prices via newspapers or websites such as OLX and, of course Gumtree – to simply ascertain the market- or asking price.

That advice, incidentally, still stands tall when buying from a dealer so you shouldn’t get ripped off.

Let’s assume the asking price seems reasonable (you’ve done your homework, remember) and the only thing left to do is haggle over your trade-in… hang on a second, there’s more to the deal than that.

If the brand of car you’re interested in is the same type of car that’s sold out of the showroom a few metres away you’ll need to know if the factory warranty/motor plan is still in place for the car you are about to purchase.

Be sure to find out if the vehicle has been fully paid up of any finance deals in the past. This is obviously very important. A good dealership will have safeguards in place long before you’ve put your signature on the dotted line, but be sure to ask.

Chances are you are trading in a vehicle and there’s nothing wrong with that. One thing I object to is walking around a used car lot and not being able to see the price of a vehicle marked clearly on the windscreen.


A good dealership will always have a printed list of all the salient stuff pertaining to the car such as the age of vehicle, mileage and the accessories clearly attached to the windscreen as well – so far, so good.

The downside is usually the price you are being offered for your trade-in. That fancy, after-market CD sound system and leopard-skin seat covers you tastefully fitted weigh little in the eyes of the used car salesman.

He/she has to ask higher prices because they have to factor in their overheads and will have already paid out for any work deemed necessary to give “the car of your dreams” maximum appeal – they’ve got you half-hooked already, haven’t they?

Still, always look on the bright side.


They’ll have offered you a really competitive rate to repay that 54 to 60-month loan back and most likely – at the very least – a 30-day, no quibble guarantee on the engine/transmission and back axle.

Remember, the salesperson is first and foremost in the business of moving metal, while saving you the bother of advertising your car privately.

The best part of dealing with a reputable garage is easy: You can expect your trade-up wheels inside a week, and they’ve done all the paperwork for you such as registration, number plate fitment and licensing, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

This no longer comes as a free service but give it a go and try and have it at least reduced as a sales clincher.

Happy hunting!

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