Buying a car in South Africa this year could be the best or worst experience for you – it largely depends on how much you’re willing to shop around and how much perseverance you have to stay the course and not settle for less than what you want. With the residue of economic uncertainty stemming from 2020 still affecting markets, the automotive industry has not been exempted.
There is, however, a light in this perceived darkness. Although buying a new car can be stressful and heavy on your pocket, it’s still seeming to be a decent time to purchase a new car right now in South Africa. According to new data from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA), the total number of new vehicles sold domestically in March this year (50,607) was the highest monthly sales figure since October 2019. This is good news! So, in some ways, it’s the perfect time to get yourself a new car.
This is where we come in. We’ve compiled a few crucial car buying tips for you to keep in mind when you do decide to take the plunge and buy a vehicle this year. Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. Hopefully, these tips can help simplify the process for you and leave you feeling more equipped to get the best deal out there.
Decide What Kind of Car You Need
The best piece of automotive advice you’ll ever get is to never walk into a car dealership without any preparation or forethought about what kind of vehicle you’re looking for. It’s best to sit down and look at all your options, with a spouse or trusted friend or family member, and decide on the type of car you’re looking for. You should keep your budget in mind here, as well as what you’re going to be using the car for. Is it going to be used for long trips often? Is it only going to be used to drop the kids off at school and head to the shops? These are important considerations when you’re deciding what kind of vehicle to spend the next five to ten years with.
In your search for the car you’d like, you may find that fancy is not always fitting, and expensive doesn’t always mean good. You’d be surprised at some of the top cars in South Africa and what they cost. A good example is the Renault Kwid, which is one of the top affordable cars in South Africa at only R180,400.
Do Your Research
The all-important task of research doesn’t lose its significance when buying a car. Once you’ve managed to decide what kind of vehicle, you’re after, you don’t want to just walk into any dealership and take the first model you see. It’s best to compare different prices online, shop around, visit a few different dealerships (which is safer to do now because you’re more knowledgeable of what you want), and get a good idea of the varying prices and options that are available. This will help you to budget and you’ll have a much clearer picture of what’s possible and what’s not.
Check Your Credit Score
Your credit score will ultimately be the thing that gets you adequate financing for your car or not. It’s important to check your credit score early on in the process in case you need to do some work to improve it. If your credit score is good to exceptional, the more likely you’ll be to secure a loan from the bank to help finance your car. If, however, your credit score does not qualify you for a loan, there are ways you can rectify your score and improve it over time. The best thing to do is to keep on top of your credit score so that it doesn’t get out of hand. It’s easier to solve a problem when you know what it is.
Secure Your Financing
Securing your financing before purchasing a vehicle gives you more negotiating power when you do eventually go and purchase one. It’s in your best interest to get approved funding before you begin the process of purchasing a vehicle, as this way you can search around for the best possible interest rates and make sure you’re choosing the safest and wisest option. Some dealers may try and convince you that you only need to worry about getting approved financing once you actually walk into the dealership to purchase a car. This is not the case, and getting pre-approved financing will actually give you a welcome advantage when you do head to the dealership.
Choose A Dealership
Once you’ve done your vehicle and financial research and shopped around a little, it’s time to decide what dealership you’re going to do business with. It’s important to make sure that any dealership you want to purchase from should be a member of either the Retail Motor Industry Association (RMI) or the Independent Dealer Association (IDA). Choosing a dealership that is affiliated with either of these organisations will ensure your rights as a customer are protected.
Take A Test Drive
Now for the important part. Everything you’ve researched and learnt about the vehicle you want to buy will mean nothing if it’s not comfortable and ‘user-friendly’ when you drive it. A test drive is your opportunity to experience the vehicle in its entirety before making any sort of commitment to buying it. This is crucial for anybody buying a new car, as it allows you to make sure everything functions correctly and that there are no hidden features or issues that have not previously been expressed. At the end of the day, the test drive will make or break it for you. You’ll either love it and decide to purchase it then and there, or you’ll probably not feel good in it and have to look elsewhere.
When going through this car buyers guide, or such guide, always remember to stick to what you want. It’s very easy to get swayed by this thing or that thing, especially if you’ve never bought a car before. Bring an experienced friend or family member into the process, and nail down what you want right at the very start. Then do everything you can to stick to it. Good luck!