Buying a used car could be a great way of cutting down the cost of owning and driving a vehicle, but it’s important to take your time to understand the risks and the process when buying. We’ve prepared this guide to help you make the best possible purchase.
Steps to getting financed
Fill out the online application.
If your application has been approved, we’ll contact the seller to agree to the sale. The seller is obliged to do a technical inspection on the vehicle and a roadworthy test.
We’ll ask you and the seller for necessary documents. Here is a list of useful documents for your convenience.
The sale agreement is voice-logged, which is legally binding, or signed online with iContract.
A WesBank representative meets with you
to complete the process.
We pay the seller and the buyer will be responsible for the new vehicle licensing and registration.
Some things to consider before you start.
Buying a car is very exciting, but don’t be guided only by your emotions, use your head. Take your time and evaluate every detail about the car you want to buy.
What can you afford?
It’s about more than just your monthly finance payments. You need to consider the cost of fuel, a deposit (if required) along with the maintenance and insurance costs for different models of cars.
With petrol costs on the rise and environmental concerns around energy consumption, it makes sense not to buy a gas guzzler. Diesel is cheaper than petrol and allows for more range, but diesel vehicles must be serviced more often. These services are generally more expensive than servicing cars that run on petrol.
How will it be used?
Make sure you think through all the features of the vehicle you might need. If you’re on the road all day, air conditioning and low mileage might be more of a necessity than if you only drive down the road and back.
A car with a dubious history can be a big safety risk. Also, some cars are more of a risk for hijacking and theft than others.
Must you sell your current car first?
Don’t assume that you’ll be able to sell your old car easily when you’ve found a new one. If you finance the new vehicle with the plan to use money from the sale of your old car as a deposit, you could find yourself in serious financial trouble if you fail to sell your car or sell it for less than expected.
Check the vehicle’s history carefully.
Does it have a Full Service History?
You’ll often see the acronym FSH when browsing ads in the classifieds or car trading magazines. This Full Service History shows where and when it has been serviced, giving you some insight into how it has been maintained.
When checking the service books, compare the car’s odometer reading to that noted at the last service. Also, it’s a telltale sign of a scam if the ink used in the service record is the same for all the services or if the handwriting looks too similar.
Check the vehicle’s integrity
If you wish to finance the car through WesBank, we can help you do a verification check on it using the 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Has it been in an accident?
Many private sellers don’t mention if the car has been in an accident because of the obvious effect that could have on their chances of selling the car.
Inspect the car carefully, inside and out.
Make notes of any problems you find so that you can use them as bargaining tools later on.
Prepare before the inspection
Before you go and look at a vehicle, make a checklist of things to remember so that you don’t get distracted and miss something. If you can, it’s a good idea to take along a friend who can be objective about it.
Is the car clean and presentable or is the upholstery worn and dirty? If the interior reeks of air freshener it could be covering up something like damp or smoke.
Checking the outside of the vehicle
- Check for cracks or chips in the windscreen and windows.
- Check that the car’s contours are straight and the gaps between the body panels are consistent.
- Inconsistent paintwork is a possible sign of an accident, and if there seems to be fresh paint under the bonnet you should be suspicious.
- Check for signs of rust, and wear and tear on the tyres.
- Check that the vehicle licence disc has not expired.
- Look for manufacturers’ plates and original stickers.
Inspecting the engine
Check the car’s bodywork in good light, perferably artificial light because bright sunlight can be too reflective.
- Check the hoses and V-belt / fan-belt for cracks or signs of wear and tear.
- Check the battery terminals for build-up.
- Check for oil leaks.
- If there are droplets of clear liquid on the dipstick, it is a sign that the engine gasket is worn or leaking.
- Watch or listen to the engine while it is idling to check that it is running smoothly with no fluctuations.
- Rev the engine to ensure there is no black or blue grey smoke coming from the exhaust, which could be a sign of an oil leak.
- Check for tampering on the engine number – it is a warning sign if the numbers are misaligned or look like they’ve been filed.
Checking the inside of the vehicle
The odometer reading should match the age of the car – if it is unusually low and there isn’t a logical explanation, the reading could have been tampered with.
- Check that the indicators, lights (including brake lights), radio / CD player, air con/heater, windscreen wipers, hooter and alarm/immobiliser, gear lock are all working properly.
- Check that there is a spare tyre, along with a jack and spanner.
- Make sure that the seat belts are all working and are not damaged in any way.
- Check that the doors and their locks open and close properly.
- Check that all the windows work.
Take a test drive
This is the fun part, but remember to keep your emotions in check.
Drive in silence – turn off the radio and don’t be distracted by small talk. Open the windows and listen for unusual sounds. Try not to appear overeager in front of the dealer / seller as this could affect your negotiations later.
Things to test:
- Check for warning lights on start-up.
- Test the handbrake.
- Do an emergency stop to test the brakes.
- Test the road handling by intentionally swerving from side to side (on an empty road, of course!).
- Test the engine by accelerating from a complete stop and from different speeds to ensure there are no dips or flat spots during acceleration.
- Drive on a highway and on suburban roads to get a good feel for the gears and the car’s performance in different situations.
Make your purchase when you’re ready.
Go through your list of problems with the car. Assess how serious they are and how much they would cost to fix. If you still want the car, you can try to renegotiate the price with the seller, or possibly agree to buy it after the problems have been rectified.
Once you’ve done your homework, the necessary calculations and are satisfied with the car and believe you can afford the agreed on price, you are ready to purchase. Your next step is to apply for finance so that the sale can move forward.
The private sale process is dependant on obtaining the required documents from both the buyer and seller. To ensure a quick turnaround, ensure you have all of these documents ready before you start the process.