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Buying a Used Car

Information on buying a used car in South Africa, with details on the documents required and the registration procedure...

Buying a used car from a dealer

New and used cars can be bought from a dealer. This is probably the safest way to buy a used car as both dealers and buyers are protected by the law. For example, the law states that dealers must ensure that the car is of satisfactory quality and that the vehicle should be as described. It is recommended that buyers choose an established dealer with a good reputation. It is a good indication that a dealer follows a strict code of practice if they display the trade association sign.

To find out which dealers subscribe to this code, contact either The Retail Motor Industry Organisation of Africa (RMI)  or The Independent Dealer Association (IDA).

Dealers who are inspected by the AA are also reputable.

Buying used cars privately

Buying a car privately can be more risky but prices are generally lower. There are, however, few legal rights when buying privately as many cars are sold 'as is' which means there is no legal comeback once the vehicle is driven away. It is recommended that certain checks are made when buying a vehicle privately, for example, checking the service history.

Used cars for sale are advertised in local papers and online on websites such as Autotrader.

Buying used cars from an auction

When buying a used car from an auction it is recommended that the vehicle is checked in daylight and taken for a test drive. It is advised to be wary of vehicles made out of parts of two damaged vehicles which have been welded together. This is known as "Code 3", and these vehicles are not fit to be driven on the roads.

It is also advisable to be wary of buying stolen vehicles from auction. If a vehicle is found to be stolen it will be returned to its rightful owner, even if it was purchased in good faith. The buyer has no legal rights and is still liable for the cost of the vehicle. The registration documents and proof of identity of the seller should be checked carefully therefore, to make sure that the details on these two documents match.

  • For more information about buying from an auction: Click here

Registering a used vehicle

To register a used vehicle it is necessary to go to the nearest vehicle registration authority with the following documents:

  • ID (such as a passport or identity card)
  • The vehicle registration certificate in the seller's name
  • A roadworthy certificate, if the current registration certificate is older than six months
  • Proof of purchase
  • A valid motor vehicle licence
  • The completed application form for registering and licencing a motor vehicle (RLV)
  • Fee

As with new vehicles, the fee for registering a used vehicle depends on the province in which it is registered.

  • For more details about registration fees: Click here
  • For information on registering a vehicle from South Africa Government Services: Click here
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