There will surely be some pressing questions on your mind and for this very reason we have compiled a comprehensive buyer’s guide that focuses on safety, affordability, maintenance, and practicality when choosing the ideal car.

Let’s first take a look at the pros and cons of buying a new or used car.

Advantages of buying a new car

  • Usually you will get a full warranty package.

  • No prior wear, mechanical or bodily damage.

  • The dealer can offer financing at a lower interest rate.

  • Additional options and functions may be offered to you.

Disadvantages of buying a new car

  • The purchase price is usually much higher.

  • The value depreciates enormously the moment you take it off the floor.

  • New updates or features may take effect shortly after purchase.

  • Insurance, taxes and registration fees are higher.

Advantages of buying a used car

  • The purchase price is lower overall and could be even lower if you buy privately.

  • Used cars continue to depreciate, but usually more for the first two to three years.

  • You can sell it for about the same price you bought it for if it is well maintained.

  • Insurance rates tend to be lower.

Disadvantages of buying a used car

  • It may not be as reliable as a new car unless you buy a certified pre-owned vehicle.

  • Interest rates could be higher when financing.

  • Limited or void warranty.

  • Higher maintenance costs.

  • You cannot reserve the car with the features of your choice.

Here’s what to know when buying your first car

1. Request for financing

Once you’ve done all of your homework on the car you want and know you can afford it, applying for financing is simple. Visit the dealership where a Finance & Insurance (F&I) representative can advise you, explain everything about the loan application, and help you get the wheels rolling.

2. There are no dumb questions

Dealers have their own F&I representatives who are registered with the National Credit Regulator, who will guide you through the entire purchase process. When you go to the dealership to close the deal on your first car, don’t hesitate to ask questions if you don’t understand something. This is your last chance to do so before signing on the dotted line.

As exciting as it is to drive in your new car, be patient and don’t rush the process. Here’s another interesting article with some more tips for buying your first car.

3. Know your budget

There is no denying that the car payments go beyond the monthly payments. You must be honest with yourself about what you can actually afford. Remember to include insurance, fuel, and operating costs in your budget. If you really can’t afford the fuel or maintenance cost for a large 4×4, consider something more economical and affordable. The big options currently on the market are the sleek Datsun GO and the daring Renault Kwid.

4. Forget about debt

Life is too short to worry about unnecessary debt. If you can’t afford an expensive car, be patient and avoid balloon payments whenever possible. If you can afford it, choose the shortest possible term for the loan, even if it means your repayments are slightly higher. The sooner you pay for your car, the sooner you will be debt free.

5. Insurance is not negotiable

Before hitting the road in your new car, you must present proof of insurance. If you have pre-existing coverage, simply provide your document and if the dealer has purchased insurance for you, it will already be on file.

You must maintain comprehensive insurance on the car for the life of the financial agreement. Not only does this protect you and your finances, it also gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you are covered. Your insurance will pay for the insured value of the car in the event something happens, which means you don’t have to go ahead with reimbursements for a car you no longer own.

Consider this when looking for a car in South Africa:

1. Is it affordable?

Budgeting is important to many South Africans, as not everyone can afford to pay the current price for new cars, not even “entry-level” or “economy” cars. The used car market offers many good options, but you need to do your research before buying anything.

2. How well has it been maintained?

Maintenance is just as important as affordability, if not more, as you can always plan and manage your monthly payments, but not so much unforeseen maintenance problems.

Most of the time, a used car will no longer have a service plan, which means that the car owner must pay for all repairs and services out of pocket. Whenever possible, choose a car with a Full Service History (FSH) and a strong network of national dealers. Make sure you can afford out-of-warranty repairs or services, from new tires and shocks to engine or transmission problems.

3. What is the security level?

Looking back in history, for a long time, only the most expensive cars had additional safety features. Today airbags, ABS, EBD, crash bars and deformation zones are more common. Considering the increasing death toll on South Africa’s roads in recent years, these safety features have become more of a necessity than a luxury.

Remember to check the following when buying your first car:

  • Status of all seat belts: strength, intensity and endurance.

  • Make sure there is a legal amount of tread on all tires and don’t forget the spare wheel. In some cases, you can ask the dealer or seller to fit new tires if necessary.

  • Test the horn and all the lights outside and inside the car.

  • Make sure vehicle tool kit is complete and check car jack for proper operation.

  • Request the automobile accident history report. Some dealers may not tell you this unless you ask.

  • Research the NCAP safety rating of the vehicle.

4. Is it practical?

Find an affordable car that is suitable and practical for you or your child. Check that the trunk is big enough to hold a few suitcases and bags for a weekend. A two-door car may seem like a good idea, but it is not practical. Loading and unloading passengers is not easy, the trunk is small and does not have much space for the legs and head.

Consider what the car will be primarily used for and choose accordingly. Will it only be used to and from college or cross country road trips? Perhaps your child is studying engineering, construction, or a subject in which he probably needs something more durable and capable of carrying a heavy load at some point.

It is important not only to buy the first good look because you will see that you could be stuck for years. Be smart, be patient, and enjoy the ride!

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