Car Buyer's Guide

5 Red Flags To Watch Out For When Buying A Used Car

We have all come to agree with the fact that getting a used car in Nigeria saves cost if you get a good deal, and would cost you a fortune if you’re unlucky- falling into the arms of a waiting bad deal. Without quality research and a multitude of counsel, it would be very easy to fall for bad deals, masked under a change of car. To get a good deal, there are some red flags that you should watch out for.

Here are the top 5 red flags to watch out for when buying a used car:

1. Foul smell:

From usage, it is expected that a car will develop a smell of its own. This smell is however not expected to be foul. Foul smell in the trunk or the bonnet and occurrence of mildew within the interior of the car are indications of larger problems- flood, e.t.c. This indicates that the car was most likely once involved in a flood. The problem however is not the flood accident, but the resultant effect, as most flooded cars tend to develop multiple electrical and mechanical faults as time goes by. So watch out for mildew formation and foul-smelling trunk and bonnet. 

Smelly car via Your Mechanic

2. Uneven paint job:

When many car users in Nigeria are ready to sell their used car, they try to bring it to a comfortable level which includes painting to cover up accident marks. Not like one accident is so much of a deal, but multiple accidents could lead to underlying problems in the long run, and they are usually identified by patches of fresh paint on the exterior of the vehicle. 

If the total paint job of the car is done and it looks moody or not very smooth at some places, take note, it’s most likely as a result of body filling which will break off with use, leaving it worse than it was. 

Uneven paint job

3. Low pricing:

We are not trying to insinuate that a couple of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Naira off a car deal automatically means it’s a bad deal, what we mean is when the price is ridiculously cheaper than what you’d expect normally, then you have reasons to crosscheck. Imagine a used car that goes for 2.1-2.3 million Naira being offered to you at 1 million Naira; there’s a very high probability the car has issues, and the dealer is willing to sell it off to the next unsuspecting customer. 

red flags
Pricing via BBC

4. Incomplete paperwork:

Incomplete paperwork is a red flag when buying a used car in Nigeria because it could be a stolen car with forged documents. Paperwork like registration should be up to the year of purchase, custom papers, as well as other documents, should be available and up-to-date before you commit to buying the car. 

Car Paperwork

5. No test drive:

Test-driving a car of your interest at the dealership is a very important part of the buying process. However, if the dealer is not free to allow you to go on a test drive or is acting sketchy about letting you try some functions, that’s a huge red flag as it’s likely they are broken.

Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

Car purchases should be a fun activity and for first-time buyers, it should not be done alone, it should be done with someone who is more experienced, for example, a friend who is into automobiles or a trusted mechanic. 

red flags

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