Buying & Selling Tips
All you need to know about buying or selling your next car is in the "Free Tips on Buying or Selling a Used Car Safely" section.
Simply click on the part that you want to know more about and you will be redirected there immediately.
Find your next car by using the search facility on this site or find advice on how to buy your next car.
- From a Private Seller
- From a Dealer
- From an auction
- Verify the history
- Bumper to bumper inspection
- Useful numbers
Get yourself and your vehicle ready before you place the advertisement.
Top Safety Tips:
There are dishonest people in all walks of life and the internet is no different. We treat every instance of fraud, abuse or spam extremely seriously and do our very best to protect our users and make your visit to our website safe and enjoyable. But we also encourage you to be on your guard. Below is some key information on things to watch out for and top tips to help you stay safe. Remember that ads are not reviewed before they go live on the site.
- Buying & Selling – top tips for staying safe
- Danger signs
- Scam watch
- Useful numbers
- AA Autocheck
- Inspections and valuations
- Motor Industries Federation
- Insurance Ombudsman
- Police: Crime Watch
Buying a Used Vehicle
Buying a Private Vehicle:
This is normally cheaper than buying from a dealer, but can occasionally be risky.
- The vehicle might not belong to the seller – hire purchase, bank purchase,
- it may be stolen, or
- it may not have been looked after, i.e. serviced regularly, the tyres changed and aligned. This type of vehicle typically does not have a warranty
You have fewer legal rights:
- You can sue for your losses if the vehicle is not as described, however, you might not be able to find the seller.
- Some dodge dealers may pretend to be private sellers to get rid of damaged or pricey vehicles, so watch out for those that advertise as if a private person.
Watch out for:
- Scams. See our sections on "Scams" and "Danger signs"
- The same phone number in numerous ads – this could be a dealer
- When you phone about the vehicle, the seller says "which one?"
- Voicemail that is not personalised if you have to leave a message on the seller's phone.
- A seller that wants to meet you somewhere with the vehicle, rather than you going to the seller's home or place of work
- A deal that sounds too good to be true
Buying from a Dealer:
This is normally the safest and easiest way of buying as you get the maximum protection of the law.
- Most dealers also work with the major finance houses to arrange your vehicle finance for you.
- But there are dishonest dealers too, so look for an established firm with a good reputation.
- Find out if the dealer has a quality checking scheme or if the vehicles are inspected by the AA. Ask to see the report on the vehicle you want to buy.
If none of the above exists, negotiate with the dealer to have the vehicle sent for a quality check.
When buying from a dealer the law says that a vehicle must be of satisfactory quality and be as described:
- It must meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as acceptable
- Keep the way it was described in mind, how much it costs and any other relevant circumstances.
- The vehicle must be free from defects, except those that were pointed out to you by the dealer and those which should have been uncovered by an inspection ( but only if you inspected the vehicle, or if someone did it for you.)
- It should be reasonably fit for any normal purpose
These rights are not affected by any mechanical breakdown insurance (often sold by dealers if the manufacturer's warranty has run out), guarantee or warranty giving additional protection.
Buying from an Auction:
It is possible to find a very good quality vehicle at an excellent price from an auction. However, be prepared to research the vehicle's history and check the condition before bidding. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Take a mechanical expert with you if you can.
- Verify the history of the vehicle.
- Do the bumper to bumper inspection – take our checklist with.
- Don't bid too much for the car – it might not be a good deal any more if the vehicle becomes expensive.
Verify the Vehicle's History:
It is important that you avoid buying a vehicle with a hidden history. We recommend that you have it checked to make sure that it has not been reported as a stolen vehicle or is a vehicle that has outstanding finance on it. (The vehicle remains the property of the finance company and you could be held liable for any outstanding finance on it should you wish to keep the vehicle).
To arrange a vehicle check simply contact AA Autocheck on 0861 601 601 or call your local AA Technical Centre listed on this page.
When calling this number to have the following at hand:
- The vehicle identification number (17 digit VIN).
- The engine number.
- Your credit/debit card or banking details
Bumper to Bumper Inspection:
The easiest way is to book a comprehensive inspection through the AA. A qualified independent vehicle inspector will carry out a full bumper to bumper inspection, a thorough road test, and issue you with a detailed report. If serious problems are found the report may recommend that you do not purchase, or if only minor faults are highlighted, you'll be in a much stronger position to negotiate a lower price or insist on repairs.
To arrange an AA vehicle inspection or Roadworthy check simply book the vehicle into your local AA Technical Centre listed on this page under "Useful Numbers".
- Major Vehicle Inspection & report This includes the vehicle mechanics, electrical, brakes & tyres. It is a statutory requirement for re-registration
- Roadworthy certificate This includes the vehicle, mechanics, electrical, brakes & tyres. It is a statutory requirement for re-registration
AA Technical Centres:
- Pretoria: (012) 335-3850
- Midrand: (011) 315-2296
- Boksburg: (011) 826-4386
- Randburg: (011) 781-0366
- Westgate (Roodepoort): (011) 768-0642
- Western Cape:
- Cape Town: (021) 462-4426
- Parow: (021) 930-2550
- Eastern Cape:
- East London: (043) 743-9880/1
- Port Elizabeth: (041) 484-5323
- Free State:
- Bloemfontein: (051) 448-3279
- Durban: (031) 332-9212
Retail Motor Industries Federation:
For complaints about member businesses on the automotive aftermarket, contact:
- Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein: Hilda Boucher 011 886 6300, email: Hilda.Boucher@rmi.org.za
- Cape Town: John Faber 021 939 9440, email: Jan.Schoeman@rmi.org.za
- Kwazulu Natal: Alan Bennett 031 266 7031, email: Alan.Bennett@rmi.org.za
- Port Elizabeth: Erwin Stroebel 041 364 0070, email: Erwin.Stroebel@rmi.org.za
- Insurance Ombudsman: Tel (011) 726-8900
- Police Emergency: Crime Watch: 08600 10111
Selling a Used Vehicle
There is more safety risk involved when selling your vehicle privately, so ensure you take sensible precautions. Read our section on "Top tips for staying safe"
Get Ready to Sell Your Vehicle:
- Get your vehicle cleaned - a full valet is usually well worth the investment
- Prepare the service history - even if you haven't used the same company or done some of it yourself, be honest with a potential buyer
- Make sure you are available once your ad starts to appear
- Proof of ownership is your responsibility - have all necessary documentation ready, but only provide copies, not originals
- Service history and receipts for any recent parts will show your vehicle has been cared for
Advertise your Vehicle:
- Do your homework to ascertain a fair price for your vehicle. Look on our website and other classified websites to get a good indication of the selling price for similar vehicles
- State all the features of your vehicle in the advert and include all the extras
- Take a good quality photograph of your vehicle and include in the ad
- Make sure you are ready to take calls. Be available and answer questions about your vehicle - buyers will call at any time
- Do not give out unnecessary information over the phone
- Make sure the vehicle is available for viewing and test drives.
Viewing and Allowing Test Drives:
- It is a reasonable request for a prospective buyer to test drive your vehicle
- Decide where and when this should take place and remember viewers should come to you
- Ensure you are in the vehicle and the person test driving has a valid drivers license
- Take a friend with you and let them follow you in their vehicle
Negotiate the Price:
- Be polite
- Prospective buyers might want to lower the price, so keep the mood pleasant
- Consider all offers carefully – you might get better ones as the week progresses
- Always ask for cash first and ensure you receive it in the bank to deposit it straight away
- If the buyer gives you a cheque arrange a special clearance with your bank
- Ensure the money has cleared if the buyer prefers to do an electronic transfer before handing over your vehicle
- Do not accept faxed copies of deposit slips
- Check the authenticity of bank deposits with your bank
- Request your bank to confirm this in writing
- If accepting a bank cheque, check with the bank concerned that the cheque isn't stolen. 'Sufficient Funds' means nothing if the cheque has been stolen.
- Also remember the onus is on you, the seller, to inform the licensing authorities when you have sold your vehicle.
Buying & Selling – Top tips for Staying Safe
- When buying a vehicle check with your local police station that the car has not been reported stolen or do an AA Autocheck
- When buying or selling, you should meet in-person to see the item and exchange money
- For personal ease and safety, always ensure you take someone with you
- Get the potential buyer to provide a name, telephone number, place of work and the contact details. Verify these details
- Meet a potential buyer on your terms, not theirs, at a place of your choice
- Meet in a public place or somewhere that you feel comfortable with such as your place of work, police station or shopping mall
- Do not take any valuables with you
- Use your garage, garden or porch area to transact as opposed to taking strangers into your home.
- Do not take your original registration papers with you
- Keep hold of the keys at all times
- Insist that the route for a test drive is yours. Get someone to follow you
- If a deal doesn't go through make sure the vehicle is secure at all times
- Cash should be your preferred method of trade. Accepting goods such as jewellery, investment opportunities or stocks as an alternative for cash is never a good idea
- If you are the seller the prospective buyer should bring the cash to you. If you go with the buyer, go only to a bank, and travel in your own car. Do not take unnecessary risks – by for example going to an ATM after hours
- Ensure funds have cleared (which usually takes a few days) before releasing a vehicle. Also, ensure that funds deposited into your account is available for use and not on hold with the bank
- Rather risk losing the buyer than losing your vehicle
- If you are the buyer provide payment for the vehicle if you choose to buy without allowing the seller to accompany you to the Bank, ATM or other sources of revenue
- Never provide your personal or banking information (e.g. credit card number) to others over the Internet
- Make yourself aware of common scams and fraud
- Report to us any attempted fraud or suspicious emails, ads, or other activity by community members. In case of fraud or illegal activity, we also recommend that you report it to the Police
- Use common sense. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- When a deal seems to be too good to be true - beware. A seller who seems almost too keen to get rid of the item, even agreeing to a huge drop in asking price should arouse suspicion.
- When a buyer seems almost too keen to purchase items and appears to want to buy whatever you have for sale, without regard for the price or condition of the goods, beware
- Immediate requests for your bank account details to deposit money even before the items have been seen should be considered suspicious, especially when linked to a demand that the transaction be concluded immediately and goods collected/delivered within a few hours
- The more complicated the deal becomes, the more likely that it is a scam
- Sell your item on your terms - do not drive great distances to meet the potential buyer or go to great lengths to enable them to make the purchase - such as buying airtime for them, depositing money into their account for petrol to be able to drive to your designated meeting spot and so on
There are some dodgy people out there, and despite our efforts to keep them from Automart and protect you, occasionally a bogus ad or buyer slips through. Read here for some common scams on the net to watch out for.
- Brand name spoofing/phishing: You get an email that claims to be from Automart, eBay, Western Union, or another company and offers buyer protection or an online payment system or perhaps a cash prize. These emails will typically request that you send money or provide personal information. Any emails which combine urgency with some need for personal details should be treated with caution, no matter whom they purport to be from. Automart and most other companies will never send out such emails. If you send money via these sites you are likely sending money to the fraudster
- If you receive an email alleging to be from a company offering a service then go directly to the company's official website and look for details of the service.
- Cheque overpayment: A buyer or seller or prospective tenant will send you a cheque worth more than the value of the items/ rent and then ask for the surplus money to be returned to them or a third party, for example, "to pay for shipping". The cheque will clear into your bank, only to be stopped/refused weeks later. At this point, the Banks/Building Societies will take the full cheque amount back out of your account. Not only will you have lost the goods, but you will also be out of pocket for the amount of the cheque and the amount you passed on as the difference.
- Payment for brokerage/importing: A seller claims that there are brokerage fees, import duties, or other such fees required to get an item into the country. Do not pay such fees, as you will most often never get the product and will have lost any money you paid. Again, Automart is designed for local, face to face trading.
- Fake escrow sites: A buyer or seller or prospective tenant/ landlord suggests using an escrow service to complete the transaction. Often these escrow web sites are run by fraudsters (even though they may look "official") and they will take your money and never send you the product.