Tips for Buying a Car in South Africa

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buying a car in South Africa

There’s nothing quite like that new car smell. For most South Africans, buying a car is an achievement representing their journey to career growth and personal accomplishment. That’s why, perhaps, it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and neglect thorough research. 

Never fearHellopeter’s here! Check out our handy Hellopeter Tips for buying a car in South Africa and ensure that you make a perfect choice the next time you’re in the market!

Tip #1: Define Your Needs 🚘

Always remember that, first and foremost, a car is a tool which should make your life easier. In your particular context, define precisely what your primary, car-specific needs will be before even beginning your search.

Are you looking for a family vehicle to transport the kiddos in comfort and safety, or is the priority speed and style? Will your vehicle be used for heavy lifting, or is the goal to find a car fit for city living?

From the start, defining what type of vehicle would suit your practical needs immediately eliminates a lot of the ‘noise’ and narrows down your search parameters. As you will know from your prior retail experience, shopping for something specific without a defined focus often leads to impulsive, budget-busting decisions.

Tip # 2: Find the Right Car Dealership 🚗

There are typically two car dealerships to choose fromonline and offline. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so doing your research is vital in finding the solution that works for you.

  • Online dealerships allow you to search online for various makes and models across new and used vehicles. The advantages of doing your search online include the ability to easily and quickly refine your search according to your budget, the type of car you’re seeking, the mileage on the vehicle, and personal preferences while casting a wider net.
  • Offline dealerships are traditional showrooms and dealerships that showcase selected new and used models. The advantages of a physical dealership include seeing the car in person, doing inspections, asking questions, and getting advice from trained salespeople. You can also discuss your budget with the sales team and source price-based recommendations.

The research process may seem daunting, but fortunately, your consumer community at have been there, done that, and compiled a list of Mzansi’s most credible car dealerships

Some Things to Consider

  • Reviews

Reviews are an excellent way to spot the good dealerships, from the less-than-trustworthy ones. If you do a search for auto dealerships in your area, you’ll find plenty of websites. Each one will tell you they’re the best. Real reviews from real people tell you the full story, helping you spot any potential issues, and allows you to view ratings from actual consumers like yourself.

Hellopeter-registered car dealerships are organised by Star RatingTrust Index and Net Promoter Score, giving you the most significant possible insight into which dealerships you should consider.

  • Longevity

Those that have been in business for a long time likely have a reputation which has been built up over the years. An established dealer will always be a better choice over a brand-new, unknown dealer

  • Facilities

If you’re visiting a showroom, what does it look like in terms of facilities? Although this may not seem like the most important factor, it can speak volumes about the quality of the dealer, and the cars they sell

  • Service

How are you treated when you visit the lot? Are sales staff trained and professional? If you’re not getting decent service when viewing vehicles, you’ll likely not be able to expect much aftersales service if you actually make a purchase

Tip # 3: Define your Budget 💰

Once you have a good idea of which type of vehicle would suit your needs and have narrowed down your service-provider search to a handful of credible dealers, it’s time to have a good, hard look at what you can afford to spend on your vehicle.

The rule of thumb is always to ensure you are calculating for the worst-case scenario, be it interest-rate fluctuations or a change in your income, when costing what you can afford to spend on your car. 

Don’t Forget the Details

Additional costs include monthly fuel costs, vehicle finance, registration and administration fees, and insurance. Furthermore, consider postponing your vehicle purchase until you have enough money saved for a sizeable deposit on your investment. This significantly lowers your monthly payment obligations and improves your chances of securing favourable finance options.

Finally, ensure you read the fine print on any proffered contracts to identify any hidden costs or unplanned expenditures you may be liable for. If possible, retain a legal professional to give any agreements a thorough once-over to ensure you are fully aware of all your commitments and the associated penalties.

To make fully-informed decisions, use finance-calculator estimation tools, such as the Automobile Association’s Vehicle Rates Calculator tool. You should also do your consumer-driven research review platforms like   

Tip # 4: New vs Used? ✨

Now, should you buy a new or used car? Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of buying a new car.


  • More reliable
  • Accessible financing
  • Personalised customisation
  • Comprehensive warranties
  • Latest safety and convenient technologies


  • Higher insurance rates
  • More expensive
  • Significant depreciation
  • Maintenance restricted to approved providers

Tip # 5: Negotiate 🗣️

When buying a car, there’s always room for negotiation. Remember that most car salespeople work, at least partially, on commission which is a great motivation for them to get you into that car. Therefore, you should leverage this insight. Ensure you push for the best available deal, whether on optional extras, maintenance or the actual sticker price.

Before entering a vehicle negotiation, ensure you are armed with information regarding your alternative options and what the market is currently offering, guaranteeing that you can identify a good deal when you are offered one.

Driveaway into the sunset 🌇

Ultimately, where to find your dream carnew or usedcomes down to your budget, needs and preferences. Hopefully, your Hellopeter Tips for buying a car in South Africa will give you a head-start. 

Remember, with enough research and advice from fellow consumers, you can find the solution that’s perfect for you.

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