Advice for students (and parents) buying secondhand cars

Buy reliability. Colour and looks are not as important as a vehicle that will start first time, every time…

Around 200,000 young South Africans are starting university in 2019 and many of them are on the hunt for a car to get them around.

Nunben Dixon, Head of Operations: Gumtree Auto, offers six clear pieces of advice for students (and their parents) who are in the pre-owned market.

  1. Take a step back. Do some analysis on whether you actually need a car. If you’re going to be living close to lectures and there’s a campus bus service and Uber is also available, buying a vehicle might not be the smartest move economically especially if on-campus parking is seriously restricted.
  2. Budget properly. Set the amount you can afford and then hunt for the best value in that price range. Remember to budget for insurance, registration, running costs and servicing. Search nationally online because the cost of transporting the ideal vehicle to you might be outweighed by the savings.
  3. Never compromise on safety. Get the brakes, shocks, lights, mirrors and wipers checked out. Budget for replacing tyres and wiper blades if necessary and for repairing any flaws in the windscreen.
  4. Buy reliability. Colour and looks are not as important as a vehicle that will start first time, every time. Check the service history and question the current owner about any recurring issues. Purchasing from someone you know, who can vouch for the vehicle’s performance, is ideal.
  5. Think security. Expensive sound systems and trendy mags might be desirable for a student driver but they’re also thief magnets. Vehicles, especially when parked where students often park them, are vulnerable to crime and expensive accessories up your risk. If the vehicle doesn’t have good electronic security then invest in a gear or wheel lock.
  6. Get the best. Look for solid brands that will bring you good re-sale value. The 2018 Gumtree Pre-Owned Car Awards acknowledged the Volkswagen Take Up! 1.0 3-door and the Tata Bolt 1.2T XMS 5-door as the best two-year-old vehicles under R130k, and the VW Polo Vivo GP 1.4 Trendline and Toyota Etios 1.5 XS Sprint as the best under R160k.

Also read: 5 student cars to consider for under R180 000