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Essential tips when you buy a car in a Slowing Economy!

POSTED BY Tony Yew ON 02 December 2015

When the economy applies the “brakes” on the sales of new and used cars, great deals often follow in the mass media with manufacturers, distributors and traders enticing customers for their share of “wallet” especially more during the final months of the year.

Extended warranty periods, attractive financing packages, free service, cash rebates and maintenance options are some of the “delicious goodies” to win customers in the present “cut-throat” competitive environment.
Based on 2014 motor vehicle sales numbers of 666k and a further 2 to 1 ratio of used car sold for every one new car sales generally estimated; that’s a total of just under 2 million motor vehicles which were traded last year.

The perennial problem of inventory occupying storage yards and the accompanying care of vehicles required becomes a concern, just as supply starts to exceed demand or by overzealous inventory stocking by Sales Managers.
When cars are left idle in storage; be it awaiting sale, long accident repair times or even pending legal disputes, vehicle degradation begins to creep up.

Top of my list of components which may require proper storage and care are:
1) Battery – With the increasing demand for a battery to power up and maintain many vehicle applications today, it is important for a battery to be charged regularly based on a charging calendar cycle specified by the manufacturer. Showroom cars will require more frequent recharging if doors are constantly locked and unlocked as evident today by charging cables and points incorporated into showroom designs. You surely don’t want a situation of a battery in a discharged state after taking delivery or failing just after the warranty period.

2) Tyres – Flat spot occurs when the entire weight of the car is supported by the four tyre contact patch (the total size of an A4 paper) for prolong periods. When vehicle are stored longer than a month, it is advisable for tyre pressure to be increased 50% up to 3.5 bar and rolled forward or backward away from the existing tyre footprints to spread the load evenly.

3) Wiper Rubbers – These monsoon-must-haves are often neglected. Generally wipers are replaced every 2 years and when a vehicle has spent a year in the stockyard, you’re left with just 50% lifespan remaining.

4) Brake pads and Rotor – Brake pads last between 30k to 50k km depending on use and operating conditions. Front pads are normally replaced within the first 2 years. Rotors or disc are changed on average every 2 cycle of front brake pad replacement. Surface rust on disc is most likely to set in during longer storage periods, leading to deeper pitting which may result in brake squeal and accelerated wear.

5) Engine Oil – Without a doubt, the most contested discussion topic (depending on which side of the fence you are on) is if the oil does go “bad” after sitting in an engine for months of no use? My argument is that if a manufacturer requires a schedule oil change for example; every 6 months or 7500km whichever comes first, then the same fact should be applied when a vehicle is in storage for that same period of time.

What can retailers do and buyers ask?
Storage damages are often questionable and not keenly contested by unknowing and less suspecting owners. Some reputed dealers of new and used cars take matters in their own hands by proactively addressing some of these concerns, allaying some of these fears and laying the foundation of trust during the client acquisition phase.
Even fewer go to the extent of explaining the actual production month or actual “birthday” of the vehicle on sale and the necessary steps the company has taken when maintaining your vehicle in stock. Customers should be focusing more on the above rather than merely on discounts.
Dealers that differentiate in this regard and treat shoppers’ right stand to win customers’ ticket to loyalty!
In the worst case scenario; if a vehicle is left uncared for 6 months and longer, it is only fair for the seller to provide an oil change, complete vehicle detailing, replace all brake pads and disc, offer a new sets of tyres, brake fluid, coolant change and even air conditioning service thrown in before delivery.
Building trust starts from the moment of sale and it is the best time to make a lasting impression for repeat business and positive word of mouth.

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