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Matriculant in the family? Your guide to buying a first car

2017-01-05 10:48

Charlen Raymond

BUYING A NEW CAR: Follow these tips to help ease the process of purchasing a car for your child. Image: iStock

Cape Town - If your son or daughter has passed Matric in South Africa, a heart-felt congratulations from the Wheels24 team.

From here on out your child is well on their way to adulthood and to put them on the right path to independence, you're probably thinking about purchasing a car.

Buying a car for your child can be daunting; is the car safe enough? What happens if it break down? How will you be able to afford the monthly repayments?

To ease the stress of finding an ideal car for your tertiary education-bound child, we look at how important affordability, safety, maintenance, and practicality is in choosing the right car.

New vs Used cars: Pros and Cons

New car - Pros 

  • You’ll get a comprehensive warranty. 
  • No previous wear, mechanical damage or body damage.
  • You can add on whatever extra features and options you want. 


  • Purchase price is higher.
  • Depreciates the minute you drive it off the showroom floor.
  • Insurance, taxes and registration fees are higher.

Used car - Pros 

  • Purchase price is lower.
  • If you buy privately, the price could be even lower.
  • Used cars continue to depreciate, but cars typically depreciate the most during the first three years. 


  • Financing may carry a higher interest rate.
  • There may be a limited or no warranty, even from a dealer.
  • You can’t order the car with the features and options you want.
  • May have higher maintenance costs.

Image: iStock

What was your first car (model/year)? What did you love hate about it? Email us or reach us via Facebook  and Twitter.

What you definitely should know when buying a car

1. Applying is easy

When you’ve done all your research, know what car you want, and have calculated that you can afford it, applying for finance is as simple as visiting the dealership. A Finance and Insurance (F&I) representative is also able to give you sound advice, and can explain everything about the car loan application process to you.

2. Ask, ask and ask again

When you arrive at the dealership to finalise the deal, you’ll be guided through the process by the dealership’s appointed F&) representative. F&Is are registered with the National Credit Regulator and as such, if you have any questions about your finance or deal, now is the last time to ask them.

READ: First time car-buyer? Here's 10 things you need to know

The F&I will have a checklist of important points that you have to completely understand before signing your contract and taking delivery of your new car. Don’t rush the process.

3. Budget carefully

The trick to budgeting is to be honest with yourself about what you can afford. The amount allocated to the new car needs to cover the installment, insurance, petrol and running costs.

4. Be patient

Try to avoid balloon payments and choose the shortest possible term for the loan. The sooner you pay off your vehicle car, the sooner you are without debt.

5. Get insurance

One of the important documents to take along when signing your contract is proof of insurance. If you have asked the dealership to arrange an insurance quote, they will have this document.

READ: Vehicle finance - 5 things to know when buying a new car

The F&I will also explain that you are required to maintain comprehensive insurance on the car for the duration of the finance contract. This protects you and your finances. Should anything happen to the car, the insurance will pay out the insured value of the car and you will not have to worry about paying back the loan for a car you no longer have.

Image: iStock

Keep the following in mind when going car-hunting:

1. Affordability

Regardless of the thousands of vehicles sold each month, many South Africans are unable to purchase a vehicle at current prices, even those labeled as 'budget/entry level'. There are many options in the used-car market provided you do your research before purchasing. Car ownership involves much more than monthly repayments; there's insurance, fuel and maintenance to consider.

READ: Car hunting in SA? Here’s why you should do your homework

A more affordable second-hand car will ease your monthly budget.

Image: iStock

2. Maintenance

Maintenance goes hand-in-hand with affordability. Chances are that a used-car will be out of a maintenance and/or service plan - this means that all necessary repairs will have to be paid for. Choose a car with a full service history (FSH) and a strong national dealer network. Research what basic maintenance costs you might incur - don't choose a vehicle based on looks and perceived quality.

READ: These are SA's most common car problems - What's yours?

From new tyres to transmission issues, ensure that your budget can cover an out-of-warranty vehicle if repairs are needed.

Image: iStock

3. Safety

Gone are the days when drivers had to contend with a YOLO attitude behind the wheel of a vehicle with minimal safety features. Considering South Africa's horrendous road death toll, it has become a necessity to purchase a vehicle with airbags and ABS.  

READ: And SA's top vehicle brand for customer service is...

Check the following when purchasing a new car:

  • Strength, intensity and resistance of all safety belts.

  • Ensure that there is a legal amount of tread on ALL the tyres - including the spare wheel. If needed be, push the dealer/seller to fit new tyres on your car. 

  • Test the hooter and all the lights on and in the car.

  • Ask for a report on the car's accident history report. Some dealers may not tell you this, unless you ask.

  • Research the vehicle's NCAP safety rating.

Image: iStock

4. Practicality

Finding an affordable car is one thing but if it is unbearable to live with it can be nothing more than a huge frustration you could be stuck with for years. Consider what your child might need a car for - travelling to and from college? travel across SA on road trips? Used to carry loads during an internship? 

READ: Ipsos 2015 results - Bakkies vs. passenger cars in SA

Ensure that the boot is big enough to carry at least three suitcases for a weekend away. A two-door car might seem cool but practically it's a pain to load/unload rear passengers. If your child is tall consider the headroom and conversely, if he/she is short, consider whether the seats are able to be raised/lowered.

Image: iStock


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