There are many reasons why people choose to buy Nigerian registered (used) cars. Chief among them is what we often call “a good deal”: the cost is right; the look and feel isn’t bad and the owner (or auto dealer) has assured you that the issues observed are very minor faults and are easily fixable for a mere token.
However, before you plunge your hard earned notes into the next buy, you might want to know a few things:
- Drop your sentiments at home: A lot of us are overly sentimental about certain cars. Sometimes, we don’t even know why. We just like the way it looks, the way the lights come on at night or the just how your neighbor is admired on your street simply because of his car. And so, here you are, on the verge of buying same car, however, used-in-Nigeria and your sentiments completely shroud the need for due diligence. Being sentimental about a used car could be possibly likened to lodging your savings into a liquidated bank, for sentiments sake.
- Go with a TRUSTED mechanic: Well, you might ask, are they actually trustworthy? That’s not for us to answer, however, I’ll advice you go with one who you are certain knows as much as is necessary about the brand of car you are about to buy. Don’t take a Volkwagen specialist to help assess your about-to-be Toyota Matrix; hopefully you won’t take your one year old son to a cardiologist for diarrhea.
You should also be as vigilant as possible, as there’s the growing practice where mechanics via sign languages, reveal how much they must be given if they are to okay the deal for the seller. While you are there checking why the tire looks bent, the seller has assured the mechanic a certain amount if he convinces you to buy it. Beware!
- Run a diagnostic tool on that car: The use of diagnostic tools are becoming a common practice, for very good reasons. Mechanics’ assessment can often be very subjective and even when we rule out the corrupt tendencies of conniving with the seller to sell you a bad deal, there’s only so much they can discern. However, when a mechanic, in addition to his experience, uses a diagnostic tool, certain latent issues might pop-up and they helps you decide whether to walk away or renegotiate the purchase. These tools are now everywhere, you should buy one and learn how to use it to even check the ‘sanity’ of your car over time. I have and use one and I’m not a mechanic.
- Do a test-drive: This is sooooo important. I’ve come across people who bought cars that were not moved an inch. They asked that the engine to be revved, looked the exterior and interior over and proceeded to the bank. The danger in that lies in buying a car with a faulty gear or with “arms and legs” that have been dislocated but neatly bandaged. They look clean, smell clean, sound clean, but ride like they are the official car for the movie “Things Fall Apart”.
Where you don’t know how to drive, either your mechanic or friend knowledgeable in automobiles, should test-drive the car while you seat in and just listen for sounds that demand explanation.
In this post, we have only scratched the surface of what you need to know before buying a used-in-Nigeria car. While used-overseas (tokunbo) might often be better, the purchase of a used car anywhere in the world still demands caution and basic knowledge of what you must look out for. We will be shedding more light on issues concerning documentation, ownership verification and popular scams associated with purchase of used vehicles in the coming editions.