Ensuring safety in used car purchases

Buying from the classifieds has always been a risky business, particularly in terms of bigger purchases.

Trust is such an essential part of the process, but not everyone adheres to the honest seller-buyer ethos required in such transactions.

Particularly with classifieds moving from print to online, the landscape has become littered with scam artists seeking to prey on unsuspecting victims.

News feeds are awash with horror stories of victims looking for rental accommodation or used cars being fleeced by fraudulent sellers, who trawl the internet in the hope of finding someone they might con into parting with thousands of rands.

Motoring classifieds are especially precarious. A buyer looking for used Chevrolet cars for sale, for example, will never be entirely sure that the advertised vehicle will be roadworthy or in tip-top condition, as the seller suggests.

Fortunately, in South Africa measures are being implemented to formalise motoring transactions so that both the buyer and seller are protected.

In July, Gumtree Automotive formalised its relationship with Motofinn in order to ensure safe and secure transactions.

Andrew Sutherland, of Motofinn, told iAfrica Motoring the solution was born out of a need for safety as well as convenience from both buyers and sellers.

“Buyers and sellers are being steered towards the informal motor trade due to financial pressure, but they would still be willing to pay a small fee for the benefits that have traditionally been limited to professional dealerships alone.

“Financing, a full HPI check, secure payments, a full service history, police clearance, administration – all of these services can be accessed easily and without delaying the transaction.”

While it is believed accredited third parties will increasingly be used to negotiate terms between a private seller and buyer, it is still advisable that people exercise caution when dealing with automotive sales in the classifieds.

Although many people like to communicate via email when finding out more about the vehicle, it is advisable that they rather do so telephonically. Scammers frequently use the internet to lure people, so actual conversation lends credibility to any offers that might be made.

When meeting the seller for the first time, there are a number of factors to keep in mind, according to Cars.co.za. These include:

  • Meet the seller in a public place or at the seller’s home, never meet in quiet or deserted locations;
  • Have someone accompany you when meeting the seller;
  • Never carry large amounts of cash with you;
  • Let other people know where you are;
  • Always be aware of what is happening around you