Best information before buying a used car
Used cars shopping always entails risks. More so if you purchase cars from online sources. Even buying from reputable websites doesn’t always guarantee you’ll be satisfied with the actual car. Let’s face it, even with the best quality control and compliance to importation standards, a used car is still essentially a used car.
You can however manage these risks if you know what to look for in used car sources. Here are a few tips that might prove helpful:
- Understand your options – Although buying used cars direct from sources such as Japan has its advantages such as cheaper cars and more vehicles to choose from but local distributors may be faster and more convenient. If you buy from direct sources, vehicles will need to be shipped in, which means a longer wait and some shipping cost. Local distributors however, usually have their stock available for you to check out directly at the yards. A good way to go might be to check local dealers first. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can consider looking at exporters.
- Research is a plus – Nobody wants to pay too much for any car. Before considering any vehicle, check online sites that provide current used car values. Usually, car prices are based on purchase histories. While they give you the current average prices for certain makes and models, these should not be taken as absolute benchmarks. In short, research only helps to give you an idea of the acceptable range. You still need to do your own appraisal of the actual vehicle you are planning to buy.
- Check the car’s accident and ownership history – See if your dealer can provide a full ownership and accident history before purchasing any vehicle. A good rule of thumb is that if the price is too good to be true, it usually is. In some countries like Africa and in the Middle East, stolen vehicles have made it to the market. Horror stories abound of cars being impounded by Interpol from the owners off the street for being stolen. Condition reports and accident histories are also important. Stay away from dealers who don’t offer these.
- Odometer check – See if the dealer can offer independently provided odometer checks for their vehicles. Odometer fraud is a serious issue especially for older models where mileage becomes suspect. If the vehicle doesn’t come with an odometer certification, pay attention to details that may give you clues to the car’s actual mileage such as the condition of the suspension, tire wear, etc. Check if the vehicle has a service history record you can verify online or with authorized service centers. Service records will include a record of the car’s posted mileage at every servicing entry.
- Test drive – – Nothing beats a test drive to determine the condition of a vehicle. If you can’t test drive, do a background check on the dealer. Have they been around long enough? Do you know someone who’s bought from them before? Are they affiliated with established and reputable business organizations? Does the dealer give guarantees on the car’s quality? Do they offer documentation on the vehicle’s condition? If the answers are all no, better stay away.