After our homes, buying a car is probably the second most expensive item on your budget list. The sad part about this is that many car buyers have become victim to car sale scams, frauds and being ripped off from buying a second hand car.

This is why CarZar is helping car buyers get to know their rights under South Africa’s Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

Often, people think the term, ‘voetstoets’ or ‘as is’, means that the car buyer is left dry. Buying a used car is therefore commonly associated with dishonesty, as the term is used as a clause to protect the car seller, in case of any lawsuit filed against him or if the car is returned. However, the CPA is now used a protective barrier enclosing the human rights of car buying consumers. Knowing these rights when buying a car is therefore vital to ensuring that you do not get ripped off.

The Consumer Protection Act, implemented in April 2008, has disrupted the process of used motor vehicle industry.

Under the CPA, even though dealerships may disclose a motor vehicle’s faults, car dealers are no longer allowed to sell a car ‘voetstoets’. However, in terms of selling a car privately, whether online or not, motor vehicles may be sold ‘voetstoets’. But, the car’s defects must be provided and the car buyer is obliged to acknowledge and sign the defects, as part of the car sales agreement. If any unknown faults have been discovered within the car sale’s first 6-months, under Chapter 2 of the CPA, you have the right to demand repair, refund or replacement of the car.
However, to avoid the hassle of actioning any CPA’s due to fraud, scams, rip-offs and defects; the best thing to do is to simply make yourself aware of your rights when buying a car. Know your CPA rights when buying a used car and enforce them.

So, what are your rights as a car buyer and how will the CPA protect you when buying a used car?

The Consumer Protection Act covers 480 pages. It does not only take effect on consumers, but also on businesses. Here are the eight key parts protecting car buyers in the used vehicle industry.
1. Disclosure

  • The dealer is obliged to disclose known faults to the car.
  • The dealer must list all reconditioning that the car has been exposed to.
  • The dealer must disclose the car’s first registration year and code statues.
  • The terms, “Voetstoets” and “As Is”, is no longer permitted.
  • Older cars must be sold as “scrap”. Roadworthy certificates on such a car implies a 6-month warranty. In this case, “warranty” means ‘fit for the purpose for which the car was purchased’.

2. Wear-and-tear

  • The buyer is obliged to sign for accepting to buy a used car.
  • The buyer must sign his/her awareness of the level of wear-and-tear.

3. Right to return the car

  • As the car buyer, you have the right to return the used bought car to the car seller within 6-months – only under particular conditions, excluding wear-and-tear.
  • The car buyer has the right to prove a legitimate defect or that the car was sold not for the purpose he/she bought it for.
  • The car buyer has the right to request a refund, repair or replacement. Keep note that there is a particular time frame and process of 3-months, for resolving these car disputes.

4. Cooling-off period

  • The cooling-off period only applies if the ‘Offer to Purchase’ or ‘Installment Sale Agreement’, was not sold on the car seller’s or financing institution’s premises, or if the car was sold by direct marketing.

5. Price

  • You have the right to receive a fair, legal and reasonable price, when purchasing a used car.
  • As the car buyer, you have the right to receive a market value price for the car being sold.

6. Using the product safely

  • It is the car buyer’s responsibility to sign a declaration, accepting that a car is a dangerous item and therefore will not be able to file a claim if being harmed by the car.

7. Right to documentation

  • Car buyers have the right to receive copies of all the relevant documents related to purchasing the car, and sign a receipt of all documentation.

8. Implied 6-month warranty

  • The car buyer has the right to ensure that the seller stands claim to the reasonable durability of the car for a period of 6-months – an implied warranty on defects.
  • It is the car buyer’s responsibility to understand the difference between ‘wear-and-tear’ (tires, exhausts, clutch, brakes, etc.) and ‘defects’ (a gear suddenly jumping out – requires proof).
  • You have the right to request a written warranty, where the warranty may be less, equal to or longer than 6-months.
  • You have the right to extend an aftermarket warranty.

Used cars are more complex than opting for the easy way out of buying a new ‘out-of-the-box’ car. Although the CPA is or ‘should be’ enforced, the ‘should be’ means that many businesses within the used car industry are still in process of updating their paperwork and policies under the relevant motor vehicle CPA’s. CarZar therefore suggests to study the must-know CPA’s involved in buying a car, in order to avoid time consuming and inconvenient lawsuits and claims – the worst ones reported to the Ombudsman.
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The above information, as retrieved from Auto Advice, is simply a guide and does not change any laws, rules and regulations, as stipulated in South Africa’s Consumer Protection Act.