In the wake of the recent flood in Lagos, Nigeria, a lot of flooded cars are going to be pushed into the market for various reasons. Some for the sheer displeasure of an owner who wants nothing more to do with the car. Some will be for the difficulty realized by the mechanic in resolving a recurrent problem. Yet another cost-savvy set of car owners would want to move the liability of incurring any forms of expenses from unforeseen repairs in the future to unsuspecting car buyers. This is one of the reasons we are yours, truly: to ensure we do all we can to snatch you from the path of such expensive regrets. Go through the list below and hold this near when shopping for any car, locally or foreign used, in the next couple of months especially.
1. Beware of distress sales:
Car dealers love that term “Distress sale”! It is supposed to imply that the buyer is getting a deal so good, the offer is nearly one-in-a-lifetime. And while this is sometimes true, there could also be a good number of cases where the buyer is actually the one that ends up very distressed. When it is too good to be true, please take an experienced mechanic to help x-ray the vehicle and spot how much lemon might be lurking in the offer. To avoid such pitfalls, speak with a dealer you have good reasons to trust. This helps too!
2. Use your nose:
You may want to sniff your way out of possible mechanical problems. Because dampness disappears quite slowly from flooded cars, the moldy odor often gives these cars away. Also, look around the interior for molds and mildew.
Note, however, that most dealers will claim it was “washed and not properly aired” or use strong-fragranced air fresheners to attempt to suppress the moldy smell. Be as vigilant as the FBI.
3. Survey the floor:
Every car has a floor layered with a rug for that soft comfy feel when your feet land on it. That is also the same place water feels just as comfy as soon as it gets into the car. Even after extensive draining and drying, it is likely that water will still be trapped in places, even dealers aren’t prepared to reach or see.
When buying a car, lift the car mats, pat the floor with the back of your hands to feel for moisture. Also, check the back of the car mats in search of trapped dampness. Survey the boot too, especially the pit where the spare tyre is lodged. If you find receding water here and in the car, you may want to use your feet in a manual flight.
4. Look out for rust:
Now, this can be tricky! Cars that were foreign used, especially those from Canada, often arrive with a degree of rust. It could thus be difficult to ascertain the source and age of such rusts. However, for cars bought brand new in Nigeria, and that has not been used extensively in areas with salt water (Ikoyi, Banana Island and Lekki), finding rust therein, especially on screws, door hinges, door handles, bonnet springs, door and boot latches should be a red flag for you. Even where they have been used in these rust-prone areas, rust isn’t a compliment for vehicles. You should quickly reach for your “buyer’s beware hat” to decide what is worthy of your hard-earned cash.
5. Check the seats:
If the seats are fabrics, then, you may have an additional component of the car, willing to betray the seller. Look for blotches, irregular patterns of brown colorations that can be on all the car’s seats. They may claim that this was caused by a beverage spilling on one of the seats, but on all the seats? after it has been thoroughly cleaned? Yeah, your guess is as good as mine! It is often the result of dirty water, seating on the seats for a while. Your search should continue.
6. Electrical components:
Visually inspect the fuse boxes in search of extensive rust. Test as many electrically controlled components as you can: wipers, radio, power seats, etc. Lights although controlled electronically, often malfunction due to faulty bulbs. Faulty lighting alone isn’t a sufficient data point. However, one important set of lights that should be critically examined are those on the dashboard. See if, by just turning the key and without cranking the engine, all lights are displayed on the instrument cluster especially the “Check Engine” light. Where this is missing, be assured it has been put out to conceal errors. Turn off the ignition and we advise you turn off your interest too.’
7. Seek expert advice:
Before paying, we fiercely recommend you seek expert advice. Cars are by many standards, investments. You really don’t want to shy away from the cost of an expert only to bag the burden of perennial expenses on the car you bought. Ask a trusted, experienced and detailed mechanic to accompany you to see the vehicle a second time, if you spotted any of the flags we highlighted above.
Wishing you a purchase that is rewarding and refreshing!