Call them second hand, call them used, call them pre owned – but buying a car that someone else has used before you, can be a very sound investment. A new car always carries a premium, but the moment you drive it out of the dealer’s shop, the value of it depreciates.
Even a barely used car will carry the perception of being a used car, can it is this very perception that can be to your advantage when you buy a pre owned vehicle. But if you’re not careful, you could get stuck with a lemon, so be careful by following these pointers:
1. Decide on a budget
Your first step is to decide on a price range. Next consider whether you will be buying the car outright, on credit or on installments by getting finance from a financer.
2. Do your homework
Look for a make and model of car that has performed well in the last few years – in terms of performance, fuel efficiency, ride quality and so on. Then opt for a car that has been used for a few years without causing problems.
3. Buy a used car from the right source
You could approach a used car dealership, or look at the classified online or in the print media. If you’re lucky you know someone trustworthy, who is looking to sell off their car and you know that the person has used the car well and hasn’t been in any major mishaps.
4. Avoid a modified car
It a car has been converted to a hybrid or done over from petro to LPG or CNG, steer clear of it. Even a structural modification (nothing to do with the engine) is best to avoid. You don’t know how well the retro fitting was done and what impact it had overall on the car.
5. Ask about specific problems
Get to know the previous owner a bit and ask them about any accidents the car has been in, peculiarities if any and so on.
6. Test drive the car
Don’t just test drive the car, put it through its paces, go fast, slow, brake hard, if possible travel a bit on a dirt track.
7. Listen to the car
Listen to any rattles, creaks and shudders that come from the car (especially as you drive down the dirt track).
8. Call an expert
A trusted mechanic or other expert will be able to tell you how sound a car it is that you’re contemplating buying.
9. Check documentation
It goes without saying that you need to check that the registration papers are in order, that there is no loan or lien on the car, that the insurance is up to date and all taxes till date a paid.
Used car salesmen, brokers and previous owners may be quite amenable to some negotiation; there’s no harm in a little gentle haggling.