Pitfalls when buying a motorcar

Dear reader,

The motor vehicle industry is totally profit driven and with the weakening of the economy and amount of used car dealers and individual car stands it is obvious that there is tremendous competition in the used vehicle market and dealers will be offering good deals in an effort to move units.

Buyers of used vehicles should be extra careful in the selection of the dealer as well as the vehicle.

Although the Consumer Protection Act is an excellent protection meganism it is still not the best solution or method of protection against unscrupulous dealers and business transactions as it is still a very time consuming and lengthy process to try and resolve a dispute with a dealership.

Over the past eighteen months it became evident that about eighty five present (85%) of the consumer complaints received from our clients were complaints regarding used vehicles and the balance was new vehicles.


Adhering to the following few simple rules can save the buyer a lot of trouble, anger, time, tears and money.

  • Ensure you are dealing with a honest dealer who is part of a reputable organisation
  • Make sure you read and understand all the documentation before you sign any documents.
  • If you are not sure of certain clauses, take it home and get a knowledgeable person to go through it with you and explain the detail to you, play safe and do not regret your ignorance at a later stage.
  • Be patient and keep in mind that it’s your time and your money. Don’t let anybody rush you into a decision, the salesman get paid to assist you, if you walk out he will lose a deal.
  • If you are unsure, have a knowledgeable person to accompany you and help check the vehicle before you make a decision.
  • If you are in any doubt rather shop around for a vehicle that suits you better.
  • Keep copies of all your documents you are requested to sign as well as the invoice, roadworthy document and insurance contracts and certificates. 
  • You can also request the dealer to take the vehicle for a technical inspection and repair the faults at their expense but you will have to pay for the inspection. There are reputable companies who can assist with technical inspections.
  • Always check the vehicle’s vin number with the agents to verify that you do get the exact vehicle as specified on the invoice, It can easily happen that you pay R10,000-00 more for a vehicle if it is specified incorrectly.

Adhering to the above few rules will certainly save the consumer a lot of time, money and annoyance.  

If you hear or see any of the following clauses in your document, please do not continue with the transaction as you are surely going to regret that you ever entered into the transaction.

  • The vehicle is sold “voetstoots”.
  • You buy it as it is.
  • I will give you R 3000-00 discount if you do the roadworthy and registration.
  • This vehicle is a code 3 but it is in a pristine condition.
  • Our vehicles are guaranteed for thirty days.
When signing a document with any of the above clauses you will struggle to prove that you are entitled to the protection of the Act , rather be safe than sorry and shop around for a better transaction.
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