Many first-time car buyers prefer to start off with a ‘previously owned’ or used car. The rationale for doing so is that being inexperienced drivers, they may initially end up damaging the vehicle. They believe it’s better to gain experience by smashing up an old car rather than a brand new one.
However, the complexities involved in buying a second hand car are much, much greater than picking up a new one. While many automobile companies have set up a ‘verified seconds’ section to facilitate the process, it is still advisable to verify the key aspects (single or multiple owners, age, original exterior or repainted) and take an informed decision. Take several test drives, especially on bad stretches or pothole marked roads.
Check the history
One of the most important aspects that you need to inquire into after finalising on the cars you want to buy is to check car history. The experts at Motortrend recommend the following.
Distance Travelled: Check the distance the car has travelled till date. A petrol car should average a distance of 12,000 km/year, while a diesel car should average about 15,000 km/year. You can relax these figures by 10% based on the condition and maintenance of the car or the price of the car as quoted. However, if a car has travelled more than these indicated distances on a yearly basis, then it is advisable that you not buy the car. If a car has covered more than 50,000 km in 3 years, then do not purchase the car, unless of course it is available dirt cheap!
Original Car Papers and Certificates: Check the car insurance papers and vehicle history report. These documents reveal details related to the corresponding car and its road history, such as if the car has been in any accidents or if it has seen any recurring technical faults. Also ensure that the car owner has the original Registration Certificate (RC). An original copy of the vehicle warranty and maintenance certificate is also an essential component that the seller should be able to show you while selling the car.
In India, Japanese cars enjoy the best long-term resale value because of their reliability, but diesel cars also sell well on the second-hand market. Reliability should be high on your checklist; research it by looking at the quality ratings of each car, the Team-BHP forums advise.
Great unpopular cars: Many reliable cars just weren’t popular when they were new; in the second-hand market these are often great bargains. The fifth generation Honda Accord and Fiat Palio 1.6 are just two of the many bargain models available.
Never buy a modified car: You can be certain a modified car was driven ‘enthusiastically’ by its previous owner and there can be uncertainty about the quality of the modifications. Walk away from any highly modified car.
Avoid discontinued models: Cars like the Opel Astra and the Ford Escort suffer from an inconsistent supply of spares, high maintenance costs and terrible resale value. Don’t even consider buying a car whose manufacturer no longer exists (Peugeot 309, Daewoo Cielo, etc).
Why is it on sale?
A car that has been repossessed by a finance company is bad news. It will be difficult to procure the certificate of registration and the original owner may make trouble even if you do get the car transferred to your name.
Similarly, a car that is ten years old with only 30,000 km on the odometer is probably not a good buy. Cars are built to run and long periods of inactivity cause problems. Always examine a car in broad daylight; darkness can conceal obvious damage.
Above all, keep an expert mechanic with you and pay for his professional analysis and recommendations. Steps like checking for odometer tampering; verifying the engine size and doing a suspension check can make a huge difference in terms of analysing the car’s condition. Those who avoid this and buy in haste based on external appearances tend to repent from the very next moment onwards.
Did you know?
Most cars sold by dealers from the unorganized segment have had their odometers clocked back?
Many smaller engine variants are being rebadged, and sold off as, larger engines
(e.g. Honda 1.3 being sold as a 1.5)?