Johannesburg - Very few of us would consider buying a brand new car these days. They are pricey, and the value drops the minute the car pulls off the dealership floor. At the same time, you might have concerns about buying a previously owned car. Here’s how to approach it.

Decide whether to buy privately or from a dealership

There are great private deals out there, at relatively low prices, but private deals do come with greater risks. There are more than a thousand professional dealerships advertising their cars on Gumtree, which means that you can buy a great second hand car and still enjoy the full protection of the Consumer Protection Act and governance associated with the trade.

Define your budget

When you are buying a new car, you have to consider more than just the sticker price. How much more will you have to spend on fuel or repairs? Is the car due for a service? How will the car affect your insurance payments? Look for a demo or ex-rental model that's about a year old and with mileage of 10 000 to 15 000km.

Don’t overpay

Use the Gumtree Car Price Checker to find out what that particular make and year model are selling for. Buying a model that is one year older than the one you are looking at can potentially take thousands off the asking price.

Insist on paperwork

No paperwork, no deal – especially when buying a car privately. Ensure that the vehicle has been settled in full with the bank, that the seller is the rightful owner and insist on a full service history.

Ask the right questions

There are a few questions you should ask right way. "Why are you selling?" is a great opening question. It’s one matter if the seller is looking for something bigger for his/her growing family, but it’s a whole different story if they are selling the car because it keeps breaking down. You might also ask what commute they’ve taken every day, whether or not they’ve taken the car on long road trips, when they last replaced the tyres, whether they’ve been in any accidents or where the car was parked every day.

Have it checked out

While a Roadworthy Test is a legal requirement, you may also want to do an AA Dekra Test to ensure that there aren’t any nasty surprises lurking beneath the bonnet. There will be a small fee but you will have full peace of mind that the car you are buying is in good condition. If that's not possible, you're going to have to thoroughly inspect the vehicle yourself. Click here for more tips on what to look out for.