Imagine you finally buy the car you’ve wanted for months and, after driving it for a few kilometres, the engine gives in. As much as this is a scenario you may not want to think of, it can happen.

In some cases, when buying a second-hand car, the seller isn’t particularly truthful in mentioning the problems the car has, which may leave the buyer with the burden and additional costs of fixing those problems.

If you’re looking at buying a second-hand car, then you need to weigh your options and make sure you do not fall victim to unknowingly buying a problematic vehicle. However, if it’s too late for that, here are a few factors to consider if your second-hand car breaks down a day after purchase:

What are your rights when buying from a private buyer?

When you buy your car from a private buyer, caveat emptor (Latin for “let the buyer beware”) applies. This simply means the seller has more information on the product than the buyer does. In most cases, sellers can only be held liable if what was advertised differs from what they are selling. With that in mind, if you’re buying from a private owner, it’s up to you to perform thorough checks on the car before making your final decision.

What are your rights when buying from a car dealership?

According to the Consumer Protection Act, you have the right to return your car to the dealership provided you can prove the car was sold to you in an unroadworthy state. The dealership may be obliged to repair the car, or you can return it if you prefer. You have more protection regarding your rights when buying from a dealership as opposed to a private owner, because dealers are obliged to inspect their cars thoroughly before selling them.

Your rights depend solely on where you make a purchase from

If you paid cash to a private dealer, you may find yourself in a sticky situation if the dealer refuses to refund you. Make sure you make a claim within the first six months after purchase, as it will be difficult to prove you were sold a defective car when you’ve driven it for more than six months. Ensure you have all the documentation of the car with you and that you can prove you’re making a valid claim for a refund – especially if you’re considering taking legal action.

So how do you guard against buying a problematic car?

  • Take the car for a test drive. When you’re done, see if there are any liquids leaking from the car onto the floor.
  • If you’re buying from a private seller, make sure the relevant roadworthy documentation is supplied.
  • If you’re buying from an auction, make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully as they may offer insurance for an additional amount.
  • Make sure the car is registered and that its licence hasn’t expired.
  • Ensure the tyres match and are aligned correctly.

Bear in mind that if you feel uncertain before signing off on the purchase, you should strongly consider looking around a bit more for an alternative second-hand car to suit your budget.

After buying your car, take out car insurance immediately to ensure peace of mind should anything happen to it or if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road in need of help.

This article was paid for by MiWay.

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