Know Your Rights: 7 Things You Need To Know When Buying a Second-Hand Car in South Africa

7 things you need to know when buying a second-hand car in South Africa

We all know very well that buying a vehicle is stressful. Especially when it comes to second-hand vehicles. This car is going to be your daily driver for years, so even if it’s a vehicle on a budget, it still has to fit you and your lifestyle.

So, it makes sense why you would be worried and concerned about what your rights are when it comes to second-hand car buying. Because the last thing anyone needs is to buy a skorokoro car. More so if you were planning on applying for vehicle finance.

Most vehicle loan repayments last up to three to five years. And, the last thing anyone needs is to spend years paying off a lemon car that isn’t worth the loan amount or additional interest that has accumulated over the years. So, before you plan on buying a privately owned car, or seeing how to calculate vehicle finance on lender’s website, it’s best to know what your rights are before buying a second-hand car.

Luckily, South Africa has the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which ensures you don’t fall victim to a car sales scam, which has, unfortunately, become a norm in society. This act was put in place to ensure consumers aren’t scammed into purchases. This isn’t solely for consumers or private sales, but it also stipulates rules for business owners. So, take a look and see what your rights are when buying a used car privately or through a dealership.


As we all know, transparency is key, especially when there is a sale between two people. So, as a car buyer, the dealer or private seller is obligated to inform you of any faulty issues with the vehicle. You also need to be made aware of any reconditioning that has happened to the vehicle or what it has been exposed to prior to the sale. Without hesitation, the dealer needs to show you the vehicle’s first registration year and the code status of the vehicle. Lastly, older vehicles need to be sold as “scrap cars” as the terms voetstoets and as is, are no longer allowed. And, all vehicles being sold need to be tested for roadworthiness to ensure the vehicle is still fit for its purpose.

You need to be aware of any wear and tear

When purchasing a pre-loved vehicle, there is a high possibility that there will be some wear and tear on the vehicle. There is nothing wrong with that as it has been used before. However, you will need to sign a form as proof that you’re accepting the vehicle and you’re purchasing it with knowledge of those wear and tears. This is to show that you are aware of these and no one is being scammed into a purchase, or being sold something that isn’t real.

The return policy

Whenever you purchase an item, you should have the right to return it. The same applies to a vehicle. As a purchaser of a second-hand vehicle, you are within your right to return the second-hand car to its seller within the first six months. Of course, you can’t return it in bad shape; the car should still function accordingly.

Pricing of vehicle

When it’s a private sale, the pricing can get a little tricky; however, you have rights. When it comes to the price, you as the buyer have the right to receive a legal, and more importantly, a sensible price whenever you purchase a pre-loved vehicle. You also have the right to receive your preferred car at its market value price. The market value is defined as the price a buyer is willing to pay for the vehicle. This is different from the retail value of the vehicle because the market determines the price. The overall price can differ due to the region, type of vehicle, condition, mileage, scarcity and manufacturers. So, keep a lookout for this.

The cooling-off period

We all have been in a situation where a salesman is being too persistent and trying to get you to sign the contract. And, let’s face it, no one wants to be hounded and pressured into a sale, especially one so big. And that’s where the cooling-off period takes place. Now, fortunately, the South African law allows consumers a cooling-off period which means you have the right to a cooling-off period which can be a certain amount of days before you sign on the dotted line. This is to ensure no one purchases something hastily and then later regrets it. Now that, that has been cleared, bear in mind that when it comes to vehicle purchases, it only applies if the “offer of purchase” or “instalment sale” agreement was not offered through any financing or if it was sold through direct marketing.

The vehicle documentation

As a buyer, it is within your right to gain access to all the necessary vehicle documentation. Be it the service history, sales agreement, notification of change of ownership or roadworthiness certificate. All those documents are rightfully yours.

6 months’ warranty

When buying a second-hand vehicle, you have the right to a six-month warranty. And, you have the right to make sure that the private seller gives you a reasonable time frame for a warranty. You also have the right to ask for a written agreement on the terms of a warranty, so that you have proof to fall back on if the need arises. However, it’s also your responsibility to understand that this does not mean you can return the vehicle because of wear and tear; only for serious issues like defects.

Final thoughts

Buying a second-hand vehicle can be tricky. You not only need to worry about whether you can afford to pay, or pay for the car insurance plan, but you also need to be concerned about being scammed. But, luckily, there are rules put in place to protect consumers from scammers. This is why it’s important for you to know and understand your rights. But, to also know what your responsibility is to yourself. Lastly, remember that you still have the responsibility to use the vehicle properly. And you will need to sign a declaration. The declaration means you’re accepting that a vehicle is a dangerous asset and you will not file a claim to the private seller or dealership should you get injured when using the vehicle.

Remembering your commitment to yourself allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labour and travel with no worries. So, go visit your nearest lender and see what buying a car payment options you have. Also, start playing around with a car vehicle finance calculator so that you can see what car payment options you have when buying a car.

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