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How age and mileage impact the price when buying a used car in South Africa


If you’re shopping for a pre-owned vehicle, the factors you should pay attention to are mileage, age and condition. When it comes to buying used cars, the most important thing to look for is an up-to-date car service and maintenance record.

“When shopping for a used car, find the right balance between age and mileage, because these two factors will impact a car’s overall condition and price. Understanding each of the two in relation to your needs is vital when making a purchase decision,” said Barend Smit, marketing director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options.

A vehicle with a high mileage reading will cost a lot less. This is because cars with higher mileage are more prone to wear and tear, and so are more likely to break down. Engine power also tends to decrease over time.

A car with a full-service history indicates that the car was properly maintained over the years.

A reasonable mileage would range from 15,000 to 20,000km per year, with anything beyond that considered high mileage. A 5-year-old car with normal usage would typically have about 100,000 km on its odometer gauge, for example.

Smit said that while lower mileage might seem like the most important factor, that is not always true. Used cars tend to work better if they have already spent a considerable amount of time on the road.

In most cases, avoid purchasing a car with a relatively old age and incredibly low mileage. The car might have been idle for too long. Cars that haven’t been used in a while often tend to need a few repairs to get them going again.

When it comes to age, the newer the model the better. Newer cars come with better technologies. Manufacturers invest billions in research and development and are always in a race to improve their offerings year on year. Of course, the newer model will most certainly cost a bit more, but it’s also almost always the better buy.

Take the Volkswagen Golf as an example. While a 2018 and 2020 Golf might seem identical in appearance, the latter is most certainly the better machine. The car comes with more advanced safety features, a better infotainment system, and is also more fuel economic.

The year of registration is another important factor. Two identical cars with the same mileage and a year’s difference in registration could be priced very differently. In fact, the difference in price could be up to R50,000,” said Smit.


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