Buying a secondhand car: important considerations


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New to car buying? The task might well be more challenging when it comes to purchasing a used car. Have a look at the advice from our experienced secondhand car buyers.

Buying a secondhand car always takes more to consider than buying a new one. This is especially the case in countries like Nigeria. More than often, imported secondhand vehicles are much deteriorated when they reach the country. It is not impossible to get a good quality used car, but there some important things you need to know beforehand.

A successful car buyer

Buying a secondhand car always takes more to consider than buying a new one

If you are residing in Nigeria and it is your first car, you should better look at accredited franchised dealers who provide cars to fleet operators and corporate bodies. The cars after several years of using shall be returned to the dealers in exchange for new ones. The dealers shall then put the cars through professional checks for rust, dents and other defects, and recondition the engines if needed.

Among others, cars imported from the US is one of the riskiest purchases, and here are the reasons:

1. Recalled vehicles

Recalled car sign

Recalled cars may be lying among the attractively shiny, like-new cars in secondhand dealers

You sometimes hear news about factories recalling thousands of cars due to serious defects, don’t you? And you are wondering how this prevents you from reaching your first car since you are buying a secondhand one? The answer is those cars may be lying among the attractively shiny, like-new cars in secondhand dealers. Instead of returning the faulty cars, owners may take a simpler solution to get their money back by selling them as second hand. Those defects can be deathly such as those related to airbag, brakes, and other vital parts.

2. Accident vehicles

An accident car

A certain part of vehicles imported to Nigeria is accident vehicles

A certain part of vehicles imported to Nigeria is accident vehicles. Unlike other components of the used car pool, accident cars usually have badly broken chassis which are the key parts of a car. This poses a high risk for both car drivers and passengers.

3. Stolen Vehicles

A car thief

Buying stolen cars will get you into trouble one day or another

Another source of imported used cars is stolen cars. Needless to say, buying such cars will get you into trouble one day or another. It is safer to head to legal suppliers such as accredited, franchised dealers, or lawful owners.

What to look for

How to check a used car before buying (check the engine)

Bring a mechanic, or at least someone experienced in buying secondhand cars to the car inspection. Make sure you go to the test drive in a broad daylight so all scratches are easily spotted. Important items to check should include windscreen, body rust, glasses, engine condition, doors, upholstery, and rust. A small crack on the windscreen can quickly expand into a serious hole. Bring up all the defects to the negotiation so you get the due price.

Find out if it was stolen

Federal Road Safety Commission’s NVIS is an official website that provides trusted car information. Visit, enter the plate number and all the car details including Number Plate Production and Vehicle Registration will be returned in a second. The site provides a useful tool for future vehicle users, state officials and relevant agencies to look for and check car information.

For an imported used vehicle, make sure to look for chassis number or grinded engine number. Check the doors, rims, side mirrors, windscreens and all lights for engraved number and compare it with the original registration number.

An imported used vehicle should have untampered Vehicle Identification Number, Engine Number, chassis number, and vehicle serial number. Enter the VIN in the search field on, the company shall then check their database and return vehicle history report, including the stolen status.

VIN is a range of 17 digits that is stated on different parts of the car. An effective way to know if the VIN is counterfeited is to check and compare the VIN that engraved in all such places as lower-left corner of the dashboard in front of the steering wheel, inside the driver-side doorjamb, in the rear wheel well directly above the tire, front of the car frame, near the container that holds windshield washer fluid, front of the engine block, and underneath the spare tire.

Inspecting the state of the car

It is ideal to have a professional look at the car you are buying before reaching your wallet. If you are living in the Europe, you can contact AA. The organization provides competent mechanics that help ease the technical pain.

Above is our experience of buying used cars. We hope you feel a bit less lost in hunting for a good car at a more reasonable price.

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