Buying Tokunbo cars: 12 essential things to consider


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Other than buying a house, buying a car is probably the second hardest decision you have to make

Other than buying a house, buying a car is probably the second hardest decision you have to make since it costs a mini fortune to do so. Most people wouldn't put down that kind of money until they really need it, most of the time for their family to travel together. The price of a new vehicle is, needless to say, not cheap, so Nigerians often resort to another kind of car known as "Tokunbo", cars that have changed hands before. So below are some tips, 15 actually, that we think you should know before putting the money down for a used car.

1. Your financial condition

As we mentioned before, buying a car is not cheap, so you have to have this aspect covered beforehand. The cost of the car will be the initial amount you pay PLUS the maintenance cost over time. In that sense, it's better to buy a Corolla for 3 million Nairas than a 2,5 million Mercedez, because the maintenance cost of a Mercedez would generally be much higher and it will add up to the initial price.

a car miniature and coins as an illustration for the math when buying car

It feels good to own a car, just don't let it bankrupt you

2. The insurance

Another fee to consider here is the insurance fee. Because the insurance fee you have to pay will be in line with the cost of the car, and also it's higher for newer models. So, do not just bite the bullet and purchase the car at all cost if you can't comfortably cover the insurance cost.

3. The market price

Knowing the market price will give you an edge, especially when you want to refer to multiple sources so that you would have a leg up in any negotiation involved the same model. What's more, by the knowledge you have about an average price, you would somewhat be able to judge the condition of the car. For example, when a car is lower than average, you'd suspect something wrong with, say, the engine or the transmission. If the price is significantly lower, like 4 to 5 times lower, there might be some serious underlying issue, or that car was a stolen one.

>>> Updated Tokunbo car prices in Nigeria (17 most popular brands)

a car miniature on top a stack of money

Researching about the price of the car would give you an edge in negotiation

4. The current condition of the car

While you can be able to judge the bodywork just by going around and looking at it, some issues are not that visible, such as odometer fraud or broken engine. So it's ideal to have an experienced mechanic to accompany you to help with the inspecting and negotiating process. You know, two is often better than one.

5. The motive of the seller

Sometimes an inspection cannot reveal everything about the car you are buying. To be more certain, get to know the seller a little bit, let him talk about his stories, you know, get a bit personal with him. Who knows what he's gonna reveal about the car?

6. The mileage

This is the best way to know the age of a car, apart from looking at its appearance or inspecting the interior or looking at the buying documents. So, the greater the number on the odometer is, the older it is. This is also one of the reasons that drive the price of the car up or down.

some odometers

The real age of the vehicle is the number appeared on the odometer screen

7. The alternatives

The rule of thumb when buying an old vehicle is to never choose the first car that you like. Always prepare a list of cars that would likely interest you, fit your pocket or available. In other words, always have other options to choose, that doesn't only give you the initiative but also a better mental state when negotiate.

>>> You might want to take a look at: The top 10 best-selling used cars in Nigeria

8. The warning lights

One of the easiest ways to know the underlying condition of the car is to look at the warning light. Typically, the warning lights will go off if something is not right with the internal system. So if you see that the one or more warning lights are always one, it's a red flag for you. Also, if the seller intentionally covers the light with something, you should ditch the deal right away. Having said that, the warning light would always go off when you start the car so you shouldn't take that as a sign of hidden defects.

>>> Check out: The three critical warning lights on the dashboard that require immediate service

an engine light

This is the most visual indication of underlying problems of a car

9. The dealer's credibility

In case you don't buy the car directly from the previous owner but through a dealer, you should always check for their credibility. Credible dealers often try their best to protect their reputation and therefore wouldn't risk it by doing trick to you. Generally, anyone that has been around for a decade or more is pretty trustworthy.

You could know this by going online to see their reviews. If the majority of the reviews are negative, there might have been something wrong with it, and vice versa with the positives. Also, if you feel like online surveying is not really trustworthy, try looking for the contact details of people who have bought the vehicle before and ask them some questions, they'd be happy to give you a testimony, be it good or bad.

>>> You might also want to read: Car dealers in Nigeria: 5 best car dealers and 5 things unscrupulous dealers hide from you

10. The transmission and the engine

Both of those things are hard to inspect when the car is in its static state, so it's better if you take it out into the road and give it a test drive. A test drive will reveal all of its malfunctions if any. Remember to floor the gas pedal where possible and brake frequently to see if it still works properly.

a car engine

The engine and transmission system are the most important components in a car 

11. The VIN

You should always ask for this documents before taking any measure to test the car. Doing this will first ensure that the car is rightfully theirs and also you could look up its information and can be able to see its history for any accidents or legal problems in the past.

12. The prevalence and availability

As an old saying, what exists, makes sense. If a car tops the popularity list, there might be something special to it. Maybe its look, its performance, fuel economy etc. Whatever it is, trying to understand why it's been chosen by so many people. Also when a car is sold in great amount, there will be dealers of that everywhere, thus the available spare parts would be ready for your cars in any situation you might find your self in.

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