How to avoid mileage scam when buying cars in Nigeria


Posted by: 234DRIVE x NAIJAUTO.COM

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A lot of Nigerians buy cars because of the low mileage. But do you know low mileage can be set on cars through programming? Check out how to check the car mileage to avoid scams!


Car odometer can be tempered with with simple tricks of car sellers and dealerships

1. Mileage is among the top 3 things to check of all tokunbo car buyers

People have their different hotspots when buying a car that isn't brand new. If you ask 3 different people what you should look out for when buying cars, they would all have a different hierarchy of hotspots for you but MILEAGE would always be in each person's top 3.

Mileage is the total distance a car has covered from the moment the engine first moved the car till that very moment you are trying to buy it. You can check the car mileage on the odometer very easily. It is calculated in miles and a brand new car is not meant to have mileage above 35 miles, because it should have just been driven in and out of a container while shipping or driven between different parking spots around a dealership. 

>>> Car mileage or Gas mileage? Differences & top fuel economy cars

2. How much mileage is good enough for a tokunbo car?

Other than brand new cars, mileage would tell you how well a car has been driven. Buying a Tokunbo car feels better when it has a mileage less than 60,000 miles because it means the car has been actively used for 5 years and you have about 4/5 years to enjoy the car. It's a known fact that developed countries where these cars come from offering the best set of driving and maintenance conditions.

A car of fewer than 5 years would still have all the systems in place if it was properly maintained. Have you ever thought about why the car owners in developed areas maintain their car so well? It's a development in their attitude towards everything in life that is reflecting on their cars, coupled with good roads and knowledgeable technicians to handle maintenance and repairs. 

>>> What determines a good Tokunbo car? Don't be cheated by its mileage

3. Mileage can be tweaked easily and I am here to help you spot it

You deserve to know the truth about mileage on a car. It can be tweaked via computer/chip programming to read whatever the seller wants you to see. A car with 200,000 miles originally can be tweaked to show 55,000 miles on the odometer just to make the car feel like a fresh round pick to the buyer but don't worry, Crank is here to help you avoid these kinds of scams around the country. 

To know the real mileage and history of a car that comes from European countries, USA and Canada (which is where the bulk of Tokunbo cars come from), all you have to do is read the next paragraph.

Tip #1: Check the car's VIN

Google "NMVITS" or "AUTOCHECK" or "CARFAX". Input the VIN of the car you want to buy and you would see a detailed history of that vehicle even though you might have to pay several dollars sometimes but trust me, any amount you spend is better than buying the wrong car at the wrong price.

Did you just ask what VIN is? Vehicle Identification Number, and it can be found on the windshield or attached somewhere on the pillar of the car especially at the driver's area. I even advise that you should not buy any car that doesn't have its history uploaded on one of these websites. 


The VIN code is very important. It helps you track the car's history

If the car was flooded, accidented, stolen, etc. it will be revealed on the document. Nigeria doesn't have a good database system for cars, so trust me, it won't be updated with when the car came to Nigeria. You would see the real truth about the car, pure history!

Tip #2: Inspect these spots (with your trusted mechanic)

A lot of Tokunbo cars come into the country accidented and get repaired. Sometimes, they can even get to be facelifted from an older year to a recent looking model and you won't be told by the dealer because hello, he is doing business and he wants to make maximum profit by adding a scam. You just find out later that you have been driving a 2010 model car under the skin of a 2015 model.

Never go to buy Tokunbo cars alone because your brain keeps seeing what it wants to see and you might be under the influence of "new car syndrome", meaning you won't be yourself. You need the professional inspection service of a trusted automobile technician (mechanic), automotive wiring technician (rewire), spray painter/body repair specialist (panel-beater).

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A trusted mechanic should be there helping you define if the car is a right choice

The drive train of the car needs to be thoroughly inspected while the condition of the chassis and exterior panels (body) needs to also be checked for signs of accident restoration. A commonly overlooked exterior inspection on a car is "rust inspection".

You know I always have sad stories about cars? One time I was trying to restore a classic car I could lay my hands on, so I found a 1978 Porsche 911 from a roadside mechanic workshop. Gosh! I don't like roadside mechanics at all. I paid for this car even though it was not so cheap, I still forgot to check for rusts.

My panel beater was trying to take out a bolt on the floor panel of the car as we began the restoration process and he hit the hammer hard on the floor and to my unpleasant surprise, the floor crashed open and I was staring at the ground from inside my "about to be a classic" Porche 911. I was traumatized for weeks! Rust is contamination that happens on metals when it is exposed to water and moisture continuously.


Rust is the greatest enemy of metal so it needs to be properly checked on a car

The professionals you take to inspect cars you want need to be trusted so they can each carry out their duties because shady car dealers perform a lot of operations on cars just to make them appear in the best condition when it isn't. They might temporarily clearing fault codes rather than fixing the fault permanently, and it is just one of the many tricks they can do with their cars for sale.

Tip #3: Check the customs papers

You can also check if the customs papers for a registered car is original by sending the C no, date and port of clearance to customs personnel (might not be free) just to make sure you are not illegally driving a car as it can be seized and confiscated by the authorities in charge so if you have to pay for it you have to do it gladly.  


I just taught you 3 hacks to check the car mileage and avoid buying a disappointment on 4 wheels. The best kind of car to purchase is "brand new". The financial barrier makes most Nigerians conveniently buy Tokunbo cars so I will make it a point of duty to always bring an update on any new trend that can affect Nigerian car buyers. You can call me the inside guy.

Join me next time on Naijauto.com234Drive x Naijauto corner as we go further in Car Tips and Car Reviews.

Watch also:

Video: How to spot odometer rollback fraud on your used vehicle




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Crank - the head of content for 234DRIVE is a mechanic/car enthusiast/car vlogger that writes and creates relatable motoring experiences. Whenever he lays his hands on any car, he reviews them in depth. He calls himself the 'Educative Car Guy'.

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