Ina Opperman
Business Journalist
3 minute read
31 Jul 2022
10:00 am

Buying a car? Here’s everything you need to know before signing the dotted line

Ina Opperman

Are you ready to buy your first car? Then remember to go for what you can afford and not what you wish you could.

Image: iStock

Buying a car? This is how to finance it and choose an option from the thousands of advertising messages bombarding us daily to persuade us to drive a certain car.

The first and most important thing to remember is choosing to buy what you can afford, rather than what you desire.

This is especially the case if you are a recent graduate or young professional starting out in the workplace and want to buy your first car. Whether it is a reliable used model or brand-new, the thrill of owning your own set of wheels comes with its own set of financial responsibilities.

The lack of a credit history can also be a stumbling block for many young professionals on the way to vehicle finance approval.

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Affordability when buying a car

“The priority for young graduates when buying a car should be that they can realistically afford it and ensure that this additional asset does not compromise their financial situation. Instead, it should contribute positively to their new work, lifestyle and sense of independence,” says Kutlwano Mogatusi, communications specialist at WesBank Retail.

Choosing the car you can afford and not necessarily the one you really want is an indication of exercising financial maturity, discipline and independence that can only benefit you in the long run.

Mogatusi says when you are buying a car, you should buy with your head and not your heart, and this means knowing your budget, sticking to it and being realistic about the car you are looking at.

“Do not let peer pressure or the advertising messages cloud your judgment in terms of buying the car you can afford.

“The general rule is that you should not spend more than 20% of your total income on car repayments. It is also important to budget for the other expenses that come with vehicle ownership, such as fuel, insurance, maintenance and service costs in addition to keeping up with all other financial commitments to maintain a positive credit history.”

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Your financial profile

The WesBank online affordability tool offers a realistic range of finance options for the car you have in mind, based on your financial profile.

In addition, WesBank has put a special vehicle finance deal in place where a credit history is not essential for graduates if they meet certain other criteria.

According to Mogatusi you can complete the application process to check affordability and get approval for a vehicle finance deal quickly and seamlessly online via the WesBank website or by downloading the WesBank App.

Designed as a complete, end to end vehicle finance platform, you can easily apply and check for vehicle finance, customise your deal according to your budget, manage your account online and even sign off on the finance contracts – all under one app on your phone, in the comfort of your home or workplace.

“Online solutions have streamlined many of the touchpoints along the car buying journey. In fact, the more steps you complete from the comfort of your home, the better.

“The app will guide you through the car-buying process step by step, starting with the most important decision you need to make – what vehicle you can afford.”

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Keep an eye on your car finance

The easiest way to check that is to use the online vehicle repayment calculator to help you calculate the monthly repayments you would have to make for your car, including the loan terms, Mogatusi says.

On the app you can also explore personalised deal structures on potential purchases by selecting terms, deposit amounts and balloon payment preferences without having to engage face-to-face with dealership or banking staff.

Once you are adulting behind the wheel of your own car, you can also use the app for simplified account management with easy access to balances, settlement quotes, requests for NaTIS (vehicle registration) documents and even cross-border letters if you are planning to take leave for a self-driving adventure outside of South African borders.