The network of Namibian Motor Trade
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Buying a car can be a very stressful experience. When buying a brand new car that meets all your needs, from a dealer at a good price, it is much less so. However, the process can become fraught with difficult decisions when navigating the second-hand car market. Cars are expensive products, and if there is one thing we as humans don’t want eating away at us, it is buyer’s remorse. In other words, how do you ensure you get a good deal on your car purchase? Considering the Namibian landscape, let’s look at two factors that can help alleviate this pressure: approach and affordability.
When we look at approach, there are various factors that will differ from person to person, but it helps to be aware of some of the more pertinent ones:
Unlike its neighbour, South Africa, the size of Namibia’s car market can’t justify dozens of different car dealerships in each and every city. Therefore the Namibian industry is dominated by two brands: Toyota and Volkswagen. The manufacturers who are next in line make up single figures in terms of market share. Then there are the brands that are unable to garner a single percentage point of market share. The implication is that dealerships for these brands are not sustainable due to the lack of demand for the product. This in turn limits a buyer’s options. The available range in a given brand will also be more or less limited based on its market share. If, for whatever reason, you have an aversion to buying Toyota or Volkswagen, know that you are possibly going to struggle finding the ideal car.
Think about your requirements of the car. Are you planning on driving long distances or short trips? How many passengers will you be transporting, and how frequently? Do you need space for (heavy) loads? For some a sedan might be sufficient for their needs. Others would prefer an SUV to cater to their sense of adventure. A hatchback can also serve as a compromise for people who fall in both camps. Then there are people who simply need a car to take them to work and back. Even something as simple as the colour of the car is worth some consideration. If you want a unique colour, it might be difficult to track down the car of your dreams. Depending on how much time you’ll be spending on the road, along with which roads you find yourself driving on, dark coloured cars could have a detrimental impact on your driving experience because they absorb more heat. If you want a faster car, choose a red one (just kidding – although you are more likely to catch the attention of a traffic officer if you are speeding in a red car).
It helps to have a list of must-have features you want in your new or second-hand car. Be aware that some of these features often come with a bump in the purchase price. When looking at used cars you have to keep in mind that some features may only be present on newer models, or might even have been discontinued. Preferences around transmission type (manual or automatic) or fuel type could also impact the pool of available cars, since many models in Namibia implement one or the other - rarely both. Other preferences like power steering, electric windows, number of air bags, USB interfacing and the like could vary from person to person in terms of their importance.
Taking all of the above into consideration should enable you to identify the type of car you are likely to end up purchasing. Ideally, you don’t want to limit yourself to a specific manufacturer at this point but if you happen to belong to the supporters club of one in particular, then you likely won’t be spending a lot of time on choosing your car. For others, this will lead them to the next step in the evaluation process: determining what is available in your price range.
At this point, having more options works in your favour because you stand a good chance of ending up buying a car that meets all of your needs, as well as suiting your pocket. Conversely, if you’re dead set on a Ferrari, you’d better hope it’s this one, and that you can afford it.
Once you’ve identified the type of vehicle you’re interested in, do a quick internet search to see what is available in your vicinity. This should put you in touch with car dealers (or private sellers) and also give you an indication of the price ranges for different models and brands. Now, before you go and lose your heart on a particular car, it is time for the most difficult step: determining your budget.
If you’re planning on buying a car with your own cash then this is actually a relatively straightforward step. You know how much you have to spend, and cash also generally gives you a modicum of bargaining power. However, if you need to finance the car through a dealership or a bank, you need to find out how much credit either institution is willing to extend to you. Another option is finding an online calculator for vehicle financing (those generally already have the local interest rates coded in) and play around with numbers to see what the eventual installment will be. Decide on an installment that you are comfortable paying - even if the interest rate or your own monthly expenses were to increase in the following months. This should give you an indication of what you can comfortably afford should an institution be willing to extend you the necessary line of credit.
Armed with this number, look at the list of vehicles you’ve compiled and start eliminating the ones that fall outside your affordibility range. This should stand you in good stead, regardless of whether you’re looking at buying a new car or a pre-owned one. Something to be aware of: dealers will often try to entice you into adding optional value-adding extras at special prices (things like window tints, extended warranties, paint guards, etc.). These items will be added onto the final sale price (which forms part of the loan you will be applying for) and you will be paying interest on those extras for the duration of your loan period. Should you be interested in those extras, offer to pay cash for them. Under no circumstances should you agree to anything that will push your monthly installment over your predetermined limit.
Following these steps will ideally make your next car purchase a much less stressful activity. Here are some additional things to keep in mind during the process: Do some research on the maintenance costs of the vehicles that you’re interested in since this could have a big impact on the overall affordibility of the car. Always ask to test drive the car, regardless of whether you’re buying privately or through a dealer. All the specifications and recommendations won’t be able to tell you whether or not you will enjoy driving a particular vehicle.
If you plan on buying privately and are not familiar with cars, find someone who is and take them along when viewing a car. It is in dealers’ best interests to sell you a car that is in a good working condition. Private sellers generally sell you their car as is. If they, knowingly or unknowingly, sell you a car with a debilitating underlying flaw you might not have any recourse to recoup your money. Lastly, do some research on the cars you have shortlisted. See what other people have to say about those cars. Discuss any potential red flags with the seller to see if that could impact the final price. You don’t want to pay top dollar for a model that has a known manufacturer defect.
Driving a car should be a very pleasurable experience. Buying a car should be an activity that contributes to that. May your next purchase be a smooth and easy one.
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