Spare a thought when buying a car

Spare a thought when buying a car

When you are negotiating the purchase of a used car, always ask to see three things: the service book, the spare wheel, and the spare key.

Shiny car for sale in summer weather

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If any of them are missing, you will no doubt get the “we’ll sort it out” story, but trust me, it’s in your best interests to walk away from the deal, because my inbox is full of stories from people who had to do their own “sorting out” at great schlep and expense.

Kreslyn Naicker from Empangeni only found out that the 2014 Kia Cerato Koup he’d seen advertised for sale came with only one key AFTER he’d done the deal. There was no spare.

Car keys are not cheap these days - the cost of a new spare for Naicker's 2014 Kia Lerato Koup is just under R6,800.

He told the dealership the missing spare would have been a deal-breaker had he known about it before he signed the papers.

He noted the missing key on the inspection checklist form in two places, including “No spare key!!”.

The dealer said he would “sort it out”, as they do. It didn’t happen, which is why he emailed me.

“The dealer said I must put all the defects and issues I have on that sheet… but now they are saying that my noting the missing key on that form was an acknowledgment by me that the car didn’t come with a spare. That’s not fair.”

I agreed and took up the case. 

I quickly discovered a problem. Naicker thought he was buying that Kia from a Kia dealership: his invoice reads "Platina Motor Group, trading as Kia Rustenburg".

But that wasn’t the case. That used car dealership is an independent one.

KIA Motors SA’s communication manager Christo Valentyn told me that despite the wording on that invoice, the Platina Motor Group holds the KIA Motors' new vehicles franchise, but KIA Motors SA has no involvement or affiliation with the dealership's USED car sales division as it is not covered as part of the franchise agreement.

“This distinction is important because it limits the influence KIA Motors South Africa has in instances such as this,” he said.

"The only used car outlets that are owned or franchised by KIA Motors SA form part of our Certified Pre-Owned programme, KIA Konfidence.”

And while KIA SA does compel its franchised used car dealerships to provide its customers with two keys, they don’t have any control or influence over the operating standards of dealerships which are not franchised to them.

Happily, for Naicker, Kia SA decided to help - “Ultimately, we want Mr Naicker to enjoy his vehicle and, as a gesture of goodwill towards rectifying this unfortunate situation, we will – on behalf of Platina Motor Group – supply him with a new key for his vehicle. This key will be shipped from the KIA Parts Distribution Centre to KIA Motors Empangeni, who will contact Mr. Naicker so that he can bring the vehicle and existing key to them, at a time that is convenient for him, in order to code the new key.”

As always, we end with the lessons:

1. Again, when buying a used car, always check that you have two working keys, and check that the spare matches the car.

2. Don’t assume that you’re dealing with a franchised used car dealership because it happens to be attached to the brand’s new car section.

3. If you are logging faults on an inspection sheet, put "TO BE REMEDIED BY DEALERSHIP" next to the fault and get the dealer principal to sign next to it, to prevent them coming back and say: “But you were just noting things you were happy to accept”!

The advert which Kreslyn Naicker responded to:

car advert

 Also read: Recap: Riverside Spa, that's not all....

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