What to do if your car breaks down a day after purchase

Imagine the shocker of having the car you’ve been waiting months to drive breaking down soon after purchase, due to engine failure – what do you do? This may sound like a scenario you would rather not think of, but it can happen. In some unfortunate cases, when purchasing a second-hand car, the sellers aren’t always eager to mention the problematic history of the car, leaving you with the burden of discovery and fixing the problems as well as the additional costs. If you’re considering buying a second-hand car, be sure to ask the right questions to ensure you aren’t buying a problem on wheels.

Here’s what to consider if your car breaks down a day after purchase:

  • Your rights when buying from a private seller
    When purchasing your car from a private seller the caveat emptor - ‘let the buyer be aware’ - principle applies, based on the fact that the seller has more information on the product being sold than the buyer does. The private seller is responsible for ensuring that what is sold is the same as what was advertised, they can only be held liable if this is not the case. Be sure to perform your own checks before making the purchase.
  • Your rights when buying from a dealership
    According to the Consumer Protection Act, you have the right to return your car to the dealership you bought it from if it is un-roadworthy – they may be liable to fix it. It is a requirement for dealerships to inspect vehicles before selling them.

NOTE: Ensure that you have all documents relating to the purchase of your car stored away safely. These will come in handy should you need to make a claim for your defected vehicle or take legal action. The claim would need to be within the first six months of purchase as beyond that would be difficult to prove your case.

Here's how you prevent yourself from a defected car purchase:

  • Test drive the car and check for liquid leaks right after;
  • Ensure that the correct roadworthy documents are given to you if you’re buying from a private seller;
  • Read the terms and conditions attentively if you’re making an auction purchase, insurance may be offered at an additional amount;
  • Check the validity of the car’s license and whether the car is registered;
  • Check that the tyres align and match.

Save yourself the trouble that comes with a defected car and tick all the checklist boxes before going ahead with your purchase. Once you’re happy with your choice and ready to drive-off, consider getting an online insurance quote and getting your car covered correctly.

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