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Before you buy a used car in Nigeria

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

Thinking of buying a registered (Used-in-Nigeria) car? Please read this!

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.

Some other reasons include, paying for your company’s official car which was auctioned away to staff or resolving debt disputes by taking your debtors car and settling the difference, as amicably as possible. The list of reasons are as numerous as the reasons why people sell these cars.

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 the looks, the way the lights come on at night or the way 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. Please, drop your attachments at home or you might as well be putting your money in a liquidated bank.
  • Go with a TRUSTED mechanic: Well, you might ask, are they actually trustworthy? That’s not for me 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 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 plan on coming apart in the next 5minutes.

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. I’ll be shedding more light on   issues concerning documentation, ownership verification and popular scams associated with purchase of used vehicles in the coming editions.

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