When your car battery is flatter than your enthusiasm on Mondays, there’s more spark left in your feelings for your ex than under the bonnet of your car, and you double the value of your car by filling up, it may be time to find yourself a new ride. Of course, navigating the process of buying and selling a car can be even more daunting than your first stint navigating the streets of Joburg. At night. Sans sat-nav. During one of Eskom’s famed load-sheddings. Well, fortunately we’re not Eskom, which means we can shine some light on the matter.
Step 1: Finding your car
With car dealerships on virtually every street corner, finding a car should be no problem. Buying and selling a car through a reputable dealership should divest you of most of the headaches involved in selecting and registering your new set of wheels. Leaving you with the enjoyment of that new car smell, the anticipation of smugly driving past your ex’s new fling as she walks to work, and having not a care in the world. Aside from the groaning of your bank account after paying premium prices, sales commissions, and the admin fees charged by the dealership to take away the headache, replacing it with a headache of a different kind.
If your relationship with your bank manager is a tad strained as it is, the DIY, cash-basis route may be your best option. After counting the contents of your piggy-bank, spreading the word amongst your friends, both real and virtual, scouring the internet, poring over pages of used-car ads, and ripping your way through Auto Trader, you finally find a car you can afford that won’t die a natural death hours after you accept the keys.
Step 2: The negotiation
It’s time to talk. Amongst the various issues to be addressed, the buyer and seller should discuss:
- The seller’s reason for selling. If he doesn’t want the car anymore, what makes him think someone else will want it? Is he upgrading to the latest-and-greatest, newly-released model? Is he trying to avoid the costs of the first out-of-warranty service? Is he desperate for cash? Has the car recently been in an accident? Is he emigrating? The seller’s reason for selling can give the buyer some insight into the condition of the car itself.
- The price and payment method. Seller and buyer need to be comfortable with the purchase price. And the method of payment. The seller doesn’t want to part with the keys until the money is in his bank account. The buyer doesn’t want to cough up until she has the keys. In these days of internet banking, simultaneous transfer of cash and car can be easily arranged. And if the transfer is inter-bank, meaning the money may only reflect a day or two later, the seller may prefer to meet the buyer at her bank to oversee the transfer of the money to the correct account.
- Previous accidents. Has the car been in any accidents? The details of all prior accidents, big or small, should be discussed and disclosed.
- Service history. Has the car been properly and regularly serviced? The dates of all services should be reflected in the car’s logbook, along with the details of who did each service, and the mechanic’s stamp.
- Defects. What defects are present in the car? Everything, from the faulty tail-light to the missing hubcap to the gear lever that can’t engage third-gear, needs to be disclosed by the seller.
- Accessories. What additions and accessories are included with the car? The radio? The spare tyre? The toolkit? Are the speakers that are taking up half the boot being thrown in? Does the seller intend to remove the brand-new tyres and mags, replace them with his old set of barely-legal tyres and dinged rims? Buyer and seller need to agree on exactly what is included in the price, thereby avoiding disputes later when it comes to handing the car over.
- Delivery date: when will the car be ready for delivery to its new owner, and when will the buyer be able to pay for it? Is the seller still waiting for his new car to arrive? Is the buyer still waiting for her commission cheque?
- Roadworthiness: Sometimes the seller is prepared to provide a Certificate of Roadworthiness at his own cost, thereby demonstrating that the car is, indeed, worthy of the buyer’s consideration and cash. If this is not discussed, negotiated and agreed, there is no obligation on the seller to obtain this certificate.
And there we have it! A chit-chat with the seller, a spin in the car, a handshake confirming the price, and you have yourself a new ride. Congratulations all round! Or not….
Thinking that the process ends here can give rise to all sorts of nasty, undesirable consequences. Stay tuned for our next installment, where we discuss the next steps to both conclude the sale of the vehicle and preserve your sanity.
Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.