Welcome to another car maintenance week where we shall be focusing on a trend common nowadays – buying a Nigerian used car. Many Nigerians, due to the present harsh economic conditions may not be able to get a brand new or a foreign used car, popularly called _tokunbo_ cars, so most opt for locally used vehicles. Unfortunately we have a very poor vehicle maintenance schedule as regard vehicle upkeep. But this article provide tips on what to check or look out for when purchasing a locally used vehicle.
Buying a used car or truck can be an adventure. Whether you are buying a used car from an individual or a used car from a dealer, you are never quite sure what you are getting. Are you buying someone else’s problem or are you buying a good, used car or truck that will provide years of reliable service?
Remember, most people don’t sell or trade their old car unless they are having problems with it, spending too much on repairs or just plain hate it. An older car that still runs and looks good is usually a keeper. A used car or truck that is nothing but trouble becomes a trade-in or a for-sale-by-owner.
I’m not saying all used cars are trouble prone. Many are good buys and were traded in because a lease expired, or the former owner wanted a new vehicle or a different type of vehicle. The best buys are used cars with LOW miles that have been well-maintained by their former owners.
You are always better off buying a used car or truck from an individual because you can look them in the eye when you ask questions about the vehicle’s maintenance and repair history, and whether or not the vehicle is in good running condition and is reliable.
When you are buying a vehicle off a used car lot, there is no vehicle history to ask for. If there were any maintenance or repair receipts in the glovebox, most dealers throw all the paperwork away to intentionally obscure the history of the vehicle. Some will lie through their teeth about the vehicle’s repair or maintenance history. Others will be more forthright about previous repairs that may have been made, especially if they had to repair or replace something to make the vehicle driveable. If the dealer has made repairs to a used vehicle, ask about any warranty coverage they provide.
What to Check When Inspecting a used Car
* If you are buying from an individual or a car dealer, always ask for test drive. The drive should be long enough to get a good feel for how the vehicle runs, handles, rides, brakes and accelerates. If something doesn’t feel right, sound right or smell right, walk away from the deal before it is too late.
* Open the hood and look for obvious problems like oil or coolant leaks.
* Check the oil level on the dipstick. If the oil level is low, the engine may be burning or leaking oil. If the oil is very dark and thick, the engine may not have had the oil changed in a long time.
* Also, pull out the transmission dipstick. The fluid should be a pink or red color. If it is dark brown or has a burned smell, the transmission may have problems.
* Look at the battery. If there is a date code, a battery that is more than four or five years old is reaching the end of the road. Also, if the battery posts or terminals are badly corroded, or the posts show signs of having been jumped, it may indicate a recent starting problem.
* The odometer reading is always important. Low miles are usually best, but it depends on the type of driving. Highway miles are much easier on a vehicle than frequent short trip, stop-and-go driving. A car with 80,000 highway miles may therefore be in better condition than the same car with 50,000 city miles on the odometer. Just remember that odometers can be turned back, even digital odometers, to show a lower mileage than the actual mileage on the vehicle (which is another reason why many used car dealers get rid of any previous maintenance and repair paperwork that may have been in the glovebox).
* Look at the tyres. Uneven wear usually means worn suspension parts that could be expensive to replace.
* Turn everything on and off to see if it works. This includes the lights, turn signals, wipers, heater, defroster, air conditioner, power windows (front and rear), power seats, radio, power door locks, etc. Anything that doesn’t work should help you negotiate a lower price.
* Watch out for flood damaged vehicles. Water can cause long term, chronic and expensive problems with wiring and electronic modules. Look for water or mud stains on carpeting, on door upholstery, in the trunk and under the hood.
* Always take the vehicle for a short test drive. Does it start easily? Does it idle smoothly? Does it accelerate without hesitating or stumbling? Do the steering and brakes feel normal? Are they any unusual noises, smells, sounds or warning lights? Leave the radio off and listen to the vehicle while you drive it.
* Test the lights, turn signals, horn, wipers, radio, heater, air conditioner and other accessories. If you discover any problems, now is the time to negotiate with the seller regarding repairs or lowering the selling price of the vehicle.
What do you think about the above? Have more tips? Please drop by below in the comments section.
Written by Adeniyi Balogun