Unlike in South Africa where the second hand car industry has a poor reputation and mostly undeserved, the reverse is the case with Nigeria where patronage is high as a result of high-level poverty among the middle class that constitutes a significant percentage of the population.
This is when viewed against the backdrop that dealerships and consumers of used cars are not protected to a large extent by the Consumer Protection Act in the country, which in some African countries have gone a long way in legitimising and improving the second hand trade.
More-so, the private market is not governed, but consumers are becoming savvier when it comes to buying second hand, supported by tools such as online price checkers and even third party facilitators that can assist with transactions and financing.
While there are hundreds of thousands of excellent second hand cars on the market, BusinessDay motoring cautions that, there are simple warning signs that should break a deal before it is made.
Sloppy bodywork and patching is a red flag because it could indicate undeclared accident damage and even if declared, the car shopper may not be aware that the owner did not attend to the damage properly.
“Rust is less of a concern on much older cars, as long as it doesn’t compromise the structure of the car. It is worth getting a quote on what it would cost to repair rust damage because it will spread.”
A car should be started up “cold”, in other words, don’t simply let the seller hand the keys of a running car to test. “Starting the car will reveal worn components and issues with fuel delivery that a running car simply won’t.”
Beware of modified cars. Modifications can be a plus for some buyers, but unless paperwork can be produced and researched, it is best to steer clear. “Modifications void warranties, and if they are not professionally done, they can make the car unsafe.
Professional improvements done by licensed mechanics on the other hand can improve safety and the driving experience. Solid paperwork and a maintenance history is always a good sign.
Correct paperwork. No deal should be made without the correct documentation in place. “If a seller claims that he bought the vehicle without paperwork to begin with, or lost the paperwork in a fire, or offers a discount in lieu of paperwork, run away.
You can easily obtain copies of vehicle registration and ownership from your local traffic department, but the onus is on the seller to provide you with these copies. You should not accept anything less.
What good sellers do. Good sellers tend to take the time to write good adverts with correct information. They also will be happy to point out flaws or parts that need servicing or replacing so that you are fully informed.
If a car has been cleaned, the tyres not worn too badly and proof of servicing and maintenance presented, chances are the owner has been responsible and taken good care of the car, even if it’s an older model.
There are hundreds of thousands of excellent used cars for sale, both privately and from dealerships. Never settle for a deal that you aren’t sure about.
By Mike Ochonma