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As the year winds down, many thousands of parents or guardians are considering a new or used car for their children who will either be studying at tertiary institutions, or starting to work. Some people are also considering a new vehicle for themselves, and preparing documentation to register the vehicle in the new year.

Before any decision on a new or used vehicle is made, buyers must do thorough homework on the make and model of the vehicle. It is important to stick to budgets while at the same time factoring in extra costs such as registration and license fees, and, importantly, the future maintenance costs of the vehicle.

Many people will take the opportunity of being on holiday to browse online car selling websites, and visit showroom floors. This is a good first step in narrowing the options. But, buyers must be careful not to place the looks and ‘optional extras’ of the car above more important features such as safety, fuel consumption, and maintenance costs.

A car for a student doesn’t need off-road capabilities, nor does it need the speed of a racing car. Be practical about the vehicle you are buying, and think about who will be driving it. A car with a solid safety rating is a better option for a student than a car which has many optional extras but which offers less safety.

In November, the AA, in partnership with Global NCAP, launched #SaferCarsforAfrica which outlined the safety ratings of five cars available in South Africa. These NCAP ratings show some of the available cars are safer than others. (SUBS:: Results of the tests, as well as images and videos of the cars before and after the tests are available at https://goo.gl/PSQwyA)

The key message from these results is that affordable and safe cars are available locally. This is important because many people wrongly believe safer cars are more expensive. This is not the case. We want to urge anyone buying a vehicle, new or used, to research the make and model as much as they can to ascertain the safety of the vehicle.

While we’ve only recently launched the first five vehicles, buyers can do research online to check the safety of other vehicles. It is important, however, to ensure the vehicle is made to same specifications, in the same factory, as the model they are interested in purchasing as the safety ratings differ from make and model, and place of assembly.

The AA says buyers of both new and used vehicles should:

Create a budget, and stick to it
Check the safety options available on a vehicle and, if possible, check the vehicle’s safety rating
Consider buying a good, safe demo model or used vehicle rather than a bad, unsafe new car
Check the fuel consumption on the vehicle,
Consider future maintenance and service costs (including replacement costs of items such as tyres and brake pads)
In the case of a used vehicle, check the service history
Ensure the vehicle is right for the purpose it will be used for
Always think ahead to the resale value of vehicle you are buying, and keep it well maintained (both aesthetically and mechanically) to ensure its value
Factor in the cost of insurance on your new vehicle
Consider AA Membership to assist you in the case of a breakdown or emergency. For more information visit www.aa.co.za

Inexperienced and older drivers who are considering a new or vehicle may also consider the following:

Accessibility of the vehicle (i.e. how easy is it getting in and out of the vehicle)
Driver aids such as park control or rear view cameras
Safety features such as anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC) and number of airbags (SUBS:: More on this is available in the attached press release AA-PR55, first issued on 23 October 2017)

As our country’s road fatality statistics mount it is important that motorists not only consider their driving behaviour, but also, the safety of the vehicle they are driving in.

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