Buying used car is a complex task.
Have you ever yourself bought a used car? Or are you one of the lucky ones who always have someone (brother, uncle etc) to do the dirty work for you? If you belong to the latter category then you should stop reading this post as this might be irrelevant to you. You might want to read my other post: How Not to lose your car to a thief.
As you are still reading this post, I believe you have, at least once, been through the hassle of buying a used car for yourself. Being a Pakistani, we have to look at many aspects of a used car. Some of these aspects are pretty irrelevant to the developed countries but here in Pakistan they are of utmost importance.
Ok! So you have decided to buy a used car for yourself. Have you done your homework? Surprised? Confused? Don’t worry I am going to explain it in detail.
PRE – SHOPPING CHECKS:
When buying a used car, you must have the knowledge of “Market trends” and current “going rates” of vehicles. This is very important because if you buy something that looks like an “Alien” in the market or something for relatively higher rates than normal then you are definitely going to lose money when reselling it. In Pakistan 3 major companies have occupied the market: SUZUKI, TOYOTA and HONDA.
There are other companies which are trying to grab their share of the market and are doing well. These include: NISSAN, MITSUBISHI and DAIHATSU. If you buy something from the first group, you do not have to worry about “RESALE PROBLEMS” or “SPARES” (True for most of the models). The second group does well in the “SPARES” but sometimes you will be stuck in the RESALE phase. Now image RESALE of CHERRY QQ, this could take years and if in between you needed some spares then the lovely QQ will be parked in your garage for quite some time.
So you must consider which make and model of used car you are buying. Do some market research on it, ask people and then select your next car accordingly.
It’s a good idea to check the market prices of your selected car and have some references for it. This will help you in the last stage of buying your used car.
There are many websites in Pakistan where you can look for used cars. The popular ones are;
I have discussed differential advantages of these websites in my other post.
Bright sunny day is best to inspect bodywork of a used car. Under the sunlight repainted areas, scratches and cracks are easily visible. While looking at bodywork you must take notice of any corrosion or rust. Rust is one of the most damaging thing that can happen to a used car.
To check the paint, you have to be an expert. There is a specific sound that is produced when you dribble your fingers on the body of used car. You should be able to differentiate between the sound of original painted and repainted surfaces.
It is a good practice to ask a bodywork specialist to look at the car for you. This will help you in getting the professional advice. This will also help you in negotiating the right price for the used car.
Never buy a used car that has been involved in a major collision. Major collisions are the ones in which frames, suspension or steering is damaged. These are very hard to repair and there is always a greater chance of it not working in the desired manner. These cars have lower resale value and are very unpopular among buyers. If you get stuck with such a car, try to get rid of it as soon as possible.
If you look under the hood of used car and see a dirty, unclean engine area, the car might not be taken care of. You will have to look at the car very closely. But on the other hand a sparkling clean engine could be hiding some leakages or spills. So be very careful when looking at the engine of the used car.
If the engine has any unusual sound, it will be a good idea to get advice of a mechanic on it. Any car with a sloppy engine is a headache and will make you feel sorry for yourself in future.
Ask the owner when the “TIMING BELT” was changed.
Start the car and check for the smoke. If black smoke is coming out of exhaust, you should consult a mechanic before making any decision.
You should always check the engine number from the car with the registration book. In Pakistan people tend to change engines and not update them on documents and with authorities.
If you are buying a manual transmission car, you should check that the clutch operates smoothly and the gears engage easily. Check all gears. Someone I know, bought a used car, everything was fine but it would not engage in the FIFTH GEAR (i.e. TOP GEAR) and ultimately he had to replace the complete gear box.
For automatic transmission, check the transmission dipstick for correct level. Smell the dipstick, if it smells burnt, you must not buy the car.
SUSPENSION, STEERING & BREAKS:
Suspension, steering and breaks are a must to check. The shock absorbers can be checked by pushing down hard on the body of the used car from corner and letting go. It should take one and a half swings to go back to normal. Driving the car on a poor road surface will give you a good idea of the condition of suspension.
Check the steering and breaks for any vagueness.
TYRES AND RIMS:
Check for tyres and rims of the used car you are buying. If your desired car does not have good tyres and rims, you could be in for at least 30,000 PKR. The tyres should have a minimum of at least 2.0 mm of thread on it. All the rims should be straight and without any cracks or damages.
Always check for spare tyre. I once bought a car. My friends asked me for a treat so being a gentleman I gave the treat happily. We sat and had fun till it was almost mid night. Now when I left for home, the tyre got punctured. When I opened the boot, there was no spare tyre, no jack and not even the spanner. I was STUCK. I had to knock on my friend’s door to lend me spare tyre and accessories from his car. So the moral of the story is: Always check for spare tyre and stuff when buying a used car.
INSIDE THE CAR:
While buying a used car, you must look closely at the interior of the car. If the interior is all worn out and torn, you should consider calculating the expenses of redecorating it.
Check the odometer of used car, an altered one would have numbers out of line. For digital ones, I don’t know how to check/spot alterations. If you know any way to spot it, do share it in the comments.
Always check the air condition of the used car to see if it is working properly. If it is not in working order, you definitely have a point to pay less than the asking price.
Always check the documents of the used car with concerned authorities. Cars with duplicate documents and/or duplicate number plates are very hard to sell. I will advice you not to buy a used car with duplicate documents. You never know, the car might be stolen, unregistered or even used in some criminal activities. In Pakistan, you can easily find two cars in different areas with same registration.
This is a problem that you won’t face in developed countries but in Pakistan you might. And so you should be careful.
MAKING AN OFFER:
Ok! So you have checked the used car for all the above, you have test driven it and are happy about it. Now you should negotiate with the owner to get a good bargain. If you have a list of all the problems which were indicated by the above checks, they will give you a good pitch to drag the price down.