Buying a used car
Proof that the car has been paid for
If the vehicle was financed through a bank, you need a clearance form stating that the seller doesn't owe the bank anything.
If there is still money outstanding, your financier has to pay the outstanding amount to the seller's financier, before the clearance document will be issued. If the car wasn't financed, the buyer can demand an affidavit stating that the car has been paid for in full.
This serves as proof that the car isn't stolen and the onus is on the seller to obtain it.
The seller must obtain this from the traffic department. There are also private institutions, such as the Automobile Association (AA), authorised to issue roadworthy certificates.
Original registration certificate
This is issued the first time the car is registered and contains important information, such as the engine number. If the seller doesn't have it, you could be buying a stolen car. If the seller lost the original certificate, he can apply for a copy at the traffic department. The sale cannot be completed without this document.
Both the seller and the buyer must provide proof of identity.
If the seller has outstanding traffic fines on the vehicle, the licence will not be renewed until the fines have been paid.
Driver's licence of the buyer
This is not a legal requirement, but may be needed.
When buying, keep proof of money transferred to the seller's bank account, for at least six months. If you are selling, don't accept a cheque as payment under any circumstances.
Take out insurance immediately, even if it only covers theft, fire and third-party claims.
Banks usually don't finance vehicles that are six years or older. Find out what your bank's policy is before entering into negotiations with the seller.
You will get more for your vehicle if you buy from the dealership where you trade in your old car.
Check the bodywork for rust. If a car has been resprayed, chances are it started to rust, or was in a serious accident. Look out for dull marks on the paintwork and different colours of paint (easier to spot near the bumper). Examine the spare tyre – it may give an indication of the mileage the car has done.
Do you have experience in buying or selling a used car? Can you offer any more useful advice? Share your comments in the box below.