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All you should know when buying a second-hand Car

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Demand for second-hand vehicles is huge in Nigeria because such vehicles are usually much cheaper than brand new ones, which cost far more than what the average Nigerian can afford. Though they've been previously used either here in the country ("Nigeria-used") or outside the country ("tokunbo"), second-hand vehicles still offer buyers good value for their money.

Because the used car market in Nigeria includes various types and grades of vehicles, not all buyers are lucky to go home with vehicles that will make them happy. Due to negligence or ignorance, some people buy second-hand vehicles that turn out to be the most regretful purchases of their lives.

How can you make the right choice when buying a second-hand vehicle in Nigeria? There are some things you need to know to ensure that you don't end up with a dud. Read on to learn more.

1 The first and most important step

Your first step towards buying a used car that will make you happy is to decide on the type of car you need - based on your needs and other important factors - and gather information about each "candidate" that meets your criteria.

For example, if you have a family of more than five, consider buying a large SUV - and gather information about the various SUVs available in market. Similarly, if you need to pick heavy loads often, consider going for a pick-up truck.

In addition, make your choice based on important factors such as durability, availability of spare parts, fuel economy, and so on. In all, buy a car that you like, that will meet your needs, and that will minimize your expenses in the long haul.

2 Setting up your budget

Once you've decided on the model you want to buy, set your budget and stick to it. One common mistake among buyers is to factor in only the cost of purchasing the vehicle, leaving out other expenses such as fuel, maintenance, insurance, registration, transfer fee, stamp duty, and so on.

Truth is, all these expenses can quickly lead to big figures and cause problems when they arise. So, keep them in mind when working out your budget.

Remember that car insurance quotes vary by insurance provider. So, to get car insurance for the best price, compare prices from several companies. The easiest way to do this is to check out the comparison of car insurance quotes from different companies at Topcheck.com.ng, the first price comparison website for financial services in Nigeria.

3 Where to look for a car

Whether you’re looking to buy a tokunbo or Nigeria-used second-hand vehicle, you have two main options: approach a private seller or dealer or use online car marketplaces like Cheki or Carmudi.

With increasing internet and smartphone penetration in Nigeria, more and more people now favour the latter option. In a nutshell, online car marketplaces are far more convenient and allow you to choose among a wide variety of vehicles.

4 The only way to avoid buying a dud

Once you've found a car that ticks all your boxes, contact the dealer and arrange for a physical meeting, where you'll get to double-check everything about the vehicle. This thorough check is the only way to avoid buying a car that you might regret later.

When going to check the car, it's advisable to go with someone who knows how to check for lapses in vehicles, such as a seasoned mechanic. Have a look at the car during the day in good sunlight. Avoid inspecting cars when it's raining because damages are easier concealed in the rain.

Start with the car body. Look for any bubbles or inconsistencies in the colour of the paintwork. These are indicators of rust or previous accidents. Then open and close all doors and windows as well as the trunk and bonnet to ensure everything aligns properly.

Check all the tyres for wears. Uneven wear indicates steering or suspension problems. Always start the engine and look at it under the bonnet. Check if there is no pooling of oil around it. Check the oil dipstick to see the oil level and colour. If the oil colour is very dark, it means the car hasn't been serviced in a long time. And if it looks grey or milk-like, it means that car has serious engine problems. Also look for corrosion or rust around the engine and battery.

Check the interior of the car and other parts, such as indicators, wipers, power windows, central locking, radio, wing mirrors, seat belts, carpets, upholstery, and everything else. Make sure that everything is in good condition, if not report it to the seller.

Finally, take the car out on a test drive, as you cannot rely on the looks alone. Test-drive the car in a quiet area, so you'll be able to hear strange noises from the engine and other parts. Check the dashboard for any warning lights, and check the temperature gauge. Test the suspension and the brakes to make sure they are working perfectly.

5 Paperwork is also important

Just before closing the deal with the seller, take a look at the car's papers to ensure you’re not buying an illegitimate property. This is particularly necessary when you're buying from a private seller.

Check the Vehicle Identification Number and date of manufacture of the car. Also cross check if the registration numbers on the car match the ones on paper. And see if all necessary papers are intact and updated.

Buying a second-hand car in Nigeria doesn't have to be a difficult task. However, by keeping all these pieces of information in mind, you'll buy a vehicle that you'll be happy with for years.

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