Buying a Used Car? The Ultimate Checklist

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Buying a car is an important decision in your life. It requires much thought and careful planning especially if you’re considering the idea of buying a used car in Nigeria.

Second-hand cars or ‘Tokunbo’ cars, as they are sometimes called, are usually cheap, readily available and predominantly come in good condition. This is one of the reasons they are widely accepted by car buyers in Nigeria.

Before you buy a used car in Nigeria, there are certain things that you should look out for to avoid wasting your money or ending up with a car you would probably regret buying. Here is a checklist to guide you when buying a used car in Nigeria:

Consider the Size of Your Wallet

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Buying a car is totally different from shopping for yoghurt and ice cream at a shopping mall. This is because it involves additional spending after you make payment for the car. You might need to replace the tyres and some minor repairs to carry out. You will need to run a regular maintenance check on the car.

To make things easy for yourself, you need to define a budget and stick to it in order to be in a safe financial position to cover unexpected repairs.

Create a Target List of Brands and Models

In the business of buying used cars in Nigeria, it is unarguably true that Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan and Mazda are buyers’ favourites. As a rule of thumb, it is best to have more than one brand and model in mind; especially as they relate to your needs and your budget for the car.

You should be careful and avoid running after all the cheap brands you come across because while they may be cheap, the cost of maintenance may be outrageous enough to drive you into financial ruins. For instance, there’s no point in buying a car with an annual maintenance cost of N500,000 while your annual salary is N1.2 million.

Compare Prices

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The price is a crucial factor in deciding if you will be driving a particular car home or not. In order not to be outdone in the bargaining process, it is best to do your homework before approaching a dealer in used cars.

One method that has worked for several buyers of used cars is researching the cost of the brands they have in mind in relation to variables like the degree of damage and the extent of use. Also, some go as far as ascertaining if it was used on Nigerian roads or if it was imported into Nigeria. This gives you an idea of what the range of the selling price should be.

Return on Investment

If you belong to the club of people who buy used cars in Nigeria with the goal of selling them at a later time, then you may want to consider the car as an investment rather than a car you’re buying simply because you need one. This means you should focus on buying a used car with a great Return On Investment (ROI).

If you are buying a used car with the plan to resell sometime in the future, You may want to stick to cars that have higher resale value like Ford, Honda and Toyota.

Check the Mileage

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While the price and resale value of the used car is important, the mileage is just as important as well. Mileage refers to the total miles covered by a vehicle especially in a given period of time.

Those who truly have a thing for good cars know that a great mileage is always the deal breaker when they are to make a choice between price, resale value and year of production. Therefore, when buying a used car in Nigeria, always look out for the mileage while also looking at other parameters you might have listed.

Did you know that the average annual mileage for a car is 12,000? If a car that is on your list of consideration has a mileage of less than 60,000 after 5 years, this is a low mileage and is a good car to buy; especially if it checks all other boxes in terms of functionality.

Let us put mileage into proper perspective – If a car is manufactured in 2012 and has a mileage of 60,000 by 2017, this would be considered good for you to buy. However, if the same car has a mileage of 110,000 or more, you should avoid buying such a car.

Who is the Dealer/Seller?

Now that you have checked all the important boxes in your journey to buying a used car in Nigeria, it is time to contact dealers and private sellers with great offers. This is the stage where you express all your concerns and preferences before you make any commitment to part with cash. It is advisable to go with a professional auto-mechanic to check out the car for safety and the car’s particular condition.

Test-driving the car is the best way to ascertain its condition. It also helps you know if the car fits into the mental picture of what you had imagined your car to look and feel like.

Things You Should Look Out For When Inspecting the Car

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The inspection of the car is a very important checklist before you make that final commitment and to make it easier, we will run through a list of some of the things you should look out for. Remember that nothing beats the experience of an auto-mechanic. Below are parts of the car you should check out:

  • Ensure the car is a flat surface before you take a look at it
  • Check out the paint job and keep an eye out for dents, scratches and rust spots
  • Take a look into the trunk to be sure it is still in good condition
  • Don’t forget the tyres
  • The frame of the car is crucial. if it is damaged, ask questions
  • Look out for under-body rust especially if you can get beneath the car
  • Have a look at the belts and hoses
  • Don’t overlook any corrosion or leak
  • When you pull out the transmission dipstick – If the fluid is not pink or red, there’s a problem
  • What is the condition of the timing belt?
  • Have a look inside the car to see if the air-conditioning system works the way it should
  • The odometer is very critical as it shows you the mileage
  • If the car has a computer in it, watch out for odd warning signs when you start the car
  • Check out all the lights in and around the car
  • Test the brakes by pressing down hard on the brakes to decelerate – Be careful not to overdo this to avoid sliding
  • Be on the lookout for clunking sounds when driving and making turns
  • Request for the car’s history
  • You must test drive the car before you make a final decision

Final Thoughts on Buying a Used Car

Ultimately, you need to buy your used car from a dealer who is reliable and trusted by buyers and sellers in Nigeria’s automobiles space. In addition to providing a platform for dealers and private sellers to sell their cars, Cheki Nigeria also caters to the divergent needs of car buyers in Nigeria. For instance, you can buy your next car with ease by allowing experts take all the technicalities involved off you.