MOTORING NEWS AND VIDEO - If you're test driving a vehicle, there are key features you should be sure to take note of and vital questions you should ask.
Jaco van der Merwe, new car sales manager at Volkswagen in Mossel Bay, has won a number of awards over the years for sales excellence. The dealership for which he works has also scooped national accolades.
Linda Sparg asked Van der Merwe for tips on what to look for during a test drive.
Note the number of airbags - in front and on the sides. Not all vehicles have them on the sides. Find out what the NCAP star rating of the vehicle is. This is a safety rating. A four- or five-star rating is the best.
Consider further how the vehicle will be affected in an accident. Van der Merwe notes, "If the body of the vehicle is galvanised, if the metal has been treated, it will not be as badly damaged during a collision as a non-galvanised body. Besides the safety benefits, galvanised bodies last longer and remain rust-free for longer. This is important to note if living in Mossel Bay and other coastal towns."
You should note whether there is an immobiliser and central locking. Van der Merwe says some vehicles have microdotted parts that enable the parts to be identified and traced back to the vehicle.
"You might wish to consider fitting a tracker in the vehicle, so factor that in when considering the overall cost."
Many people make an emotional decision when buying a vehicle. It is important to consider your needs and if you have family members, their needs too.
"Be honest and upfront about your budget. Discuss your budget and costs with the family and let the sales person know what you can afford right at the beginning," Van der Merwe urges.
Consider the number of people who will be travelling in the vehicle and their comfort. Will you be transporting dogs to the beach? Do family members play sport and will they have to transport bicycles, scuba gear, kit bags or other large items?
If you spend time in the countryside, you may wish to check the ground clearance of the vehicle. Check the specifications of the 4x4 you wish to buy. Consider whether the vehicle is suitable for towing a caravan.
Find out how economical the vehicle will be in the long run. Check the fuel consumption. Van der Merwe notes that diesel is being phased out worldwide because it is toxic to the environment.
"Vehicles manufactured locally are more economical; parts are freely available and more reasonably priced than those of foreign-made vehicles. Don't buy vehicles with low profile wheels, where the space between the metal and the road is less than with a standard wheel. Generally they are not recommended for family use. They are expensive and high risk. Stick to standard specifications to avoid unnecessary costs."
If you are buying a used car, find out if it had been in an accident. Make sure it was not stolen. Ask if there is any warranty on the car and whether it has been fully serviced at a dealer and franchise, not by a private mechanic. "It will be fully covered by a warranty if serviced by a franchise," Van der Merwe says.
"If you buy a car and the warranty is close to expiring, request an extended warranty. It will last two years, depending on the mileage of the vehicle. Ask for an extended maintenance plan which covers services."
See a video of Jaco van der Merwe driving and discussing the specifications of a highly popular 4x4 online.
Watch a video below.
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