EDITORS NOTE

Unknown quantities

If you're anything like me, you will know that buying a good-quality used car is no simple feat. I have an enquiring mind, but that can be a burden – the more I discover, the more I want to know. The rabbit-hole effect is real! For example, I learn that I need to consider one thing – perhaps about the frequency of changing a cam belt – and then I’m factoring in the potential future costs associated with every minor- and major service during my likely ownership period of the car.

Similarly, tyres are a bigger subject than I could...
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Unknown quantities

If you're anything like me, you will know that buying a good-quality used car is no simple feat. I have an enquiring mind, but that can be a burden – the more I discover, the more I want to know. The rabbit-hole effect is real! For example, I learn that I need to consider one thing – perhaps about the frequency of changing a cam belt – and then I’m factoring in the potential future costs associated with every minor- and major service during my likely ownership period of the car.

Similarly, tyres are a bigger subject than I could write about on this page alone. Wheel size naturally correlates to tyre size, which in turn has substantial cost implications, unless you’re happy to opt for a no-name (or unknown-name) tyre brand, although this is always ill-advised. After all, much of the fancy driver-aid technology on modern cars is negated if it’s shod with poor-quality tyres. One car model I was particularly interested in only seemed available on the second-hand market with (admittedly, good-looking) 19-inch wheels and relatively low-profile rubber. A little bit of investigation revealed that fewer than a handful of brands make that size tyre, and should I need to replace one, it would set me back around R4 000! That kind of needless expense is something I’m just not willing to accept. Give me a sensible higher-profile and more cost-effective tyre any day, especially since a lot of my driving is going to be on gravel roads, when we head off on camping trips or into the mountains.

You’d think someone in my line of work, who gets to test-drive cars often and is surrounded by top-level motoring journalists, might have it a bit easier. But no, that’s not the case. The more people I ask for their informed opinion, the more differing (and contrasting) opinions I get. The time eventually comes where you have to try and factor in everything you’ve learnt and all the opinions you’ve acquired, and just make a decision.

The good news is that I think I might’ve finally narrowed down my preferred brand and model option to one. Okay, maybe two. Now to find an actual used car that’s within my preferred mileage limit and budget, is spotlessly clean inside and out, is frugal on fuel, isn’t a scam, and, frankly, just won’t turn out to be a lemon. Simple.show less