Buying a Used Car made simple........

Here are some very practical tips to follow when buying a used car. Many buyers normally do not follow a structured pattern, rather they use their Heart. This often leads to difficulties later on when the novelty of the “new” car has worn off. I have written these tips with over 35 years experience in the industry, starting as a mechanic, through sales, later as Dealer Principal of large car Dealerships and lately as Principal of Car Solutions Motor Vehicle Consultants.

1. Think it Through

2. Set Budget

3. Decide on Make and Model

4. Search

5. Check the car

6. Test Drive the car

7. Negotiate the Price

8. Organise a Professional Inspection

9. Complete Finance and History check

10. Do not rush.  


1. Think sensibly (with your Head -not your Heart) and disregard all the good meaning advice from friends and relatives, unless they know what they are talking about. Most do not.

2. Set a maximum Budget, a Budget you can sensibly afford.

3. Decide on whether you need an auto (sensible) or a manual transmission (cheaper), but also a pain in the City and usually or at least often driven by young Rev heads). It is much easier to burn out a clutch in a manual car than to damage a Auto transmission.

4. Decide on a Body, Hatch (modern and versatile) 3 or 5 Door; Sedan (boot space is bigger than a Hatches rear cargo area); Station Wagon; 2 Door Coupe; People Mover or SUV; 4x4 etc. The bigger the vehicle the higher the fuel and general running costs. Why own a 4x4 when you never go off road?

5. Decide on engine size, fuel efficient 4 cylinder, powerful 6 cylinder, Diesel, LPG, V8 etc. Fuel is not getting cheaper. Power will not slow you down, the Red Traffic Light and congestion will, No matter how big your engine. Be sensible. Diesel costs thousands more to begin with, a real problem when on a budget. For a LPG conversion to pay off you will have to travel 20,000 Km a year for 5 years to break even - do the sums.


According to the LPG Association, a vehicle powered by LPG will consume approximately 27% more fuel than the same vehicle powered by conventional fuel, i.e. petrol or diesel. However, one of the local manufacturers puts the increase in fuel consumption closer to 38%. That same manufacturer also reported a loss in performance, (7.75% KW Power and 6.5% NM Torque). In practice the performance loss means to reach 100 Km/h will take an additional ½ second (so small that most people would not notice any practical difference). According to the LPG Association To work out the cost effectiveness of an LPG conversion the following assumptions have to be answered:

The annual distance to be travelled in Kilometres (Km)

The vehicles fuel consumption for 100 Km (L/100 Km

The average petrol cost in Dollars ($) The average LPG cost in Dollars ($) To estimate the petrol consumption cost the following calculation should be used: Km/100 x L/100 x $ (Total distance travelled in Km x Litres of petrol/per one hundred Km, x the cost of Petrol per Litre = total annual cost.

A similar calculation applies for LPG, except that fuel consumption will increase by (27%-38%) so the fuel consumption figure must be increased by a factor of 1.27-1.38 and the LPG is substituted for the petrol cost. Km/100 x L/100 x 1.27-1.38 x $

The above calculation will give you the annual fuel bill for both, a petrol and an LPG powered vehicle.

The difference will be the saving you could reasonably expect to achieve should you decide to convert your vehicle. However, now it is time to consider the cost. The cost of an LPG conversion varies between makes and even models, so best check it out with your local conversion centre. A typical conversion can cost between $2500 and $3500 approximately and depending on the distance travelled it may take some years to recover your cost. As a guide it can be said that, the higher the annual distance you travel, the more likely it is that it will make financial sense to convert to LPG. Keep in mind that few individuals or companies retain vehicles for over 5 years.

6. If both are the same Price, For example is a 2011 – Toyota Yaris with 120,000 Km really better than a 2015 Suzuki Alto with only 20,000 Km? Is a 2013 Diesel or LPG car with 120,000 Km as good as a 2012 Petrol car that has travelled only 60,000 Km?

7. Decide on Type of engine.

8. Decide on the Make of car. Perhaps approach the selection with an open mind.

9. Less Kilometres is better than more, newer in age is better than old

10. Start looking by inputting the perimeter into a web site. Quality web sites, sell quality cars. , , alternative web sites are and

11. In general terms Franchised Dealer's cars are likely to be better than those from, smaller and non-franchised dealers. Private sellers have a complete mix of cars at both ends of the quality scale. But BEWARE there is no warranty.

12. Because dealers have to cater for their local clientele, dealers in areas with high disposable income and larger real estate than average will usually have better quality cars than dealers in lower income areas, where budgets do not allow regular servicing and/or properties have no Garages.

13. Start looking using on line web sites to search for a suitable car. Make sure you input the specification as decided upon using the process as above in 1-12. Then select the car with the lowest odometer reading as well as the one with the latest year of manufacture to check them out. Check out a third car if you like. Anymore and you will get confused.

14. Do not chase a Bargain! When buying anything used – chase quality. The biggest problem most people have is that they see a car somewhere being advertised, usually very cheap and they use that information, without any further thought, as yard stick. They therefore look for a car of a specific make and model for a certain price. That approach will lead to the cheapest (and most likely worst car) - not to the best. Select from those cars that are within your budget the car with the lowest Kilometres driven and the one with the latest built year. Check those two out.

15. Usually sellers know the value of their car and if you don’t buy the good car someone else will. If it sounds too good to be true (cheap) it usually is and it turns out to be bad (written-off) car. BEWARE! NEVER EVER PAY A DEPOSIT TO ANYONE UNLESS YOU HAVE ACTUALLY DRIVEN THE CAR IN QUESTION! EVER!   CHECKING THE CAR once you have found a suitable car is when the real challenge begins.