Last updated March 30, 2021
Buying and/or selling a used vehicle can be a smart investment when you need a replacement vehicle and used cars can provide a great alternative to new vehicle purchases as long as you know how to shop for one safely.
Feel free to read through this guide in order to be aware of some of the most common mistakes, pitfalls and fraud that can take place when purchasing or selling a used vehicle.


1. Define your budget and needs

Start by creating a budget in order to calculate how much you can afford to spend on a vehicle. Our site provides an online vehicle calculator in order to assist you with how much you can afford and what your monthly installments will be should you decide to get vehicle finance. Keep in mind that dealers and/or banks normally charge an initiation fee than is not included in the finance calculator.

Also remember to include vehicle insurance cost and also keep in mind future maintenance, fuel costs and other options like extended car warranty options.
Consider the correct vehicle to match your lifestyle in terms of size, capability, should the vehicle be able to tow a trailer, etc.

2. Check the vehicle’s market value

Many factors can affect a vehicle’s market value including condition, mileage etc. Obtain a vehicle’s market value by obtaining a valuation or by researching similar vehicles in the market which will give you an average value.

Vehicles that are advertised well below market value should be a warning sign of possible fraud or other problems with the vehicle itself.

3. How to check that a used vehicle is not stolen

A vehicle verification or history check will help you to obtain the status of the vehicle you are considering buying. By obtaining the vehicles VIN (vehicle identification number) you can obtain a vehicle check which will soon be offered by us or through various service providers with the following information that can be provided:
• The vehicle original make, model, year, variant and engine size;
• Whether the SAPS have any interest in the vehicle.

4. Vehicle service history

Check if the vehicle has a service history which can be found in the vehicle owner’s handbook service section. Check for the following items:
• How many previous owners has this vehicle had;
• Did the previous owner used recognized service centers;
• Has the vehicle been services on schedule as per the manufacturer requirements;
• Is the service history accurate by checking dates and confirming with the listed service centers.

5. Trustworthy seller

There is always risk involved in buying a used vehicle and the following tips may be useful especially when dealing with an unknown private seller:
• Contact details – are you able to contact the seller directly by telephone and if the car is for sale through a dealership can you find other contact details like land line numbers, website and email contact details;
• Be wary of sellers that you are unable to reach directly or via normal voice phone calls;
• Ask the seller to provide you with paperwork like the vehicles VIN number, service history etc.

6. Test drive

You should not purchase a vehicle without arranging a test drive and physically inspecting the vehicle. Only arrange a test drive once you have satisfied yourself that the seller seems trustworthy:
• Always choose a public and safe area when arranging a test drive and take someone with you to not meet the seller on your own. Be cautious of last minute changes to the meeting location;
• Let other people know about your meeting time and location;
• If possible the best time for a test drive is in daylight, in a safe a public area which also affords you the opportunity to check the vehicle for any damage;
• Physically check the vehicles VIN number on the license disk and also the car itself and review the owner’s handbook to check the service history;
• Always keep in mind that the onus is on the buyer to ensure that the vehicle you intent to purchase is not stolen.

7. Finalizing a purchase

Once you are satisfied with the vehicle and would like to proceed with the purchase, the following should be considered:
• Do not make payments upfront and try to pay for the vehicle only upon collection;
• Ensure you have the original NATIS document before making payment for the vehicle.

1. Be cautious for prospective buyers not located within South Africa.
2. Always arrange to meet a prospective buyer in a public and safe place. Be very cautious for last minute changes in a meeting location.
3. Try to have a friend or colleague accompany you when the meeting and test drive takes place.
4. Let other people or colleagues know when and where you are meeting a buyer.
5. Ensure that all test drivers have a valid driver’s license and also appropriate insurance cover.
6. Never let a prospective buyer test drive the car unaccompanied.
7. Never release the vehicle until all the payment funds has been fully cleared in your bank account.

If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam you can contact the SAPS directly by calling 1011 or visiting
Also advise CARS 247 on immediately.