Second-Hand Vehicle Pitfalls


Purchasing a second-hand vehicle can be a risky business and if you don’t know what to look out for, odds are you will get screwed over and conned out of your hard earned cash.  Today I was in a similar such situation, I replied to an advertisement on a popular local online classified site in connection with a Eurojet scooter that a man was selling.  The advert had sufficient information to warrant my attention including; the model and year of the vehicle, engine displacement, the mileage and of course the price.  Judging from the photos that were present on the advert, the scooter seemed to be in perfect condition.

So I phoned the owner and asked him a few questions, inquiring as to the condition of the vehicle and whether or not it was licensed.  He responded by telling me that the chassis had some minor scratches (understandable) and that it was indeed fully licensed. So feeling satisfied I agreed to meet him.

For starters, the scooter had 6,500 km on the clock, after a period of three years.  However, he remarked that the engine had been replaced a year ago but judging from how it sounded, I’d say otherwise.  The exhaust was completely rusted and both sides of the chassis were completely cracked through due to several ‘small accidents’ where the scooter was parked and then ‘knocked’ by other cars.  The chassis was held together with box ties to boot.  According to him though, all the damaged parts could be easily replaced.  Sure but If I’m going to have to replace one part after the next, I may as well just purchase a brand new scooter all together.  My next concern was the availability of spares as I had never seen a Eurojet scooter in Cape Town (usually you see a lot of Vuka’s buzzing around).  There is only one store in Cape Town that carries spares for Eurojet and it is miles away from where I live, that in itself is a deal-breaker right there.

There are plenty of Vuka and Gomoto retailers strewn throughout Cape Town, making those brands far more attractive as opposed to their European counterpart.  Sensing my apprehension, the owner of the scooter then tried several bullshitting tactics after I told him that I’d be able to pick up a brand new Vuka for R4,000 (R300 more than what he was asking for) which included; “I have never heard of Vuka before” – I’m sorry, what? I lost count at the amount of Vukas that were zooming around during my journey to and from the owner’s house.  “I wouldn’t ever buy a Vespa as they rust given that I live near the coast” – ANY vehicle that is exposed to sea breezes or any moisture will rust over time, including Eurojet scooters.  And finally, and this is a classic tactic, “I spoke to a guy earlier today who made me an offer” – Nice try asshole.  Another thing that made me weary, I asked him how long he had but the scooter up for sale, he said four days.  That was a lie as after clicking on; View poster’s other Ads, I was able to easily see that he had in fact, another advert, offering the same scooter since the 2nd of September.  In fact the owner seemed so desperate that he would’ve sold it for a grand cheaper than the asking price, that in itself is worrying.

So if you are planning on purchasing a second-hand vehicle, make sure you ask some the following questions and keep a look out for the following:

  • Is the vehicle licensed?
  • Has the vehicle been in any accidents?
  • Check for surface damage as it may be concealing something far worse (such as the case with the Eurojet scooter).
  • What is the mileage?
  • What is the reason for it being sold?
  • How old is the vehicle?
  • How worn are the tires, or do they have large pits in them?

I hope this article will be of some use to anybody who has thought about or intends on buying a second-hand vehicle be it a car, bike or scooter.  Look out for the above-mentioned and you should be quite fine, although after that experience I think I’d rather just buy a new scooter, or if I do consider going the second-hand route, that I purchase one from a trustworthy source like a friend or relative.