How to buy used cars from the US without being tricked?


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This article will provide you with tips and what should be done to purchase a foreign vehicle of your desise.

It's nothing new to purchase a Tokunbo car from foreign markets. Maybe the models in Nigeria don't satisfy your need or the one you prefer is a discontinued model and not currently available elsewhere. If you have set your sights on this niche, you'd better know that it's a little bit more complicating than buying new cars, since there's no truly authenticated dealer and the credit of a supposedly good dealer can only be determined through words of mouth.

Long story short, let's dig into our tips on how to purchase a used vehicle from one of the most active foreign car markets in Nigeria - the USA.

Tip 1: Never spend all your saving for the car

Never put all eggs in a basket, meaning you should have at least more than 80 percent of your money in your account after you purchase the car. Not only because you should, but also American dealers normally don't allow installment payment. 

a basket of eggs

Never use all your resource to buy a car, always have a backup plan

Tip 2: Have more than one option

Even though you have fallen in love with a particular model or brand, always make an extra list of all cars that match your criteria. By doing so, if a car is not really suitable to buy, you could quickly switch to others and thus save a lot of time.

Tip 3: Don't rely on the warranty that comes with the car

Don't trust the warranty sticker next to the car online. The car has its insurance doesn't mean it can be shipped to Nigeria with it. The international barrier is a real thing. If there's a type of "insurance" you should look for, it's the pre-owned certificate. This one is safer and wouldn't keep you up at night.

Tip 4: Research the market prices

Another downside when you set your sight on one car only. When you do that, the previous owner could be able to talk you into buying with a higher-than-average price of the market. So it's best if you take a tour around the market and research the price first. 

someone looking for cars on the internet

Go around the market for a while to avoid being overpriced

Tip 5: Pay attention to the conditions of car loans

If you're thinking of getting a loan to buy your car, keep in mind that most banks in Nigeria wouldn't give loans for cars that have been on the market for more than 5 years. So either save up for your car long before you make the decision to buy it or look for ones that are under 5 years old. 

Tip 6: Location of the car does matter to the price

Pay attention to the location of the car. Some states are farther from the sea than other states, thus it will add a transportation fee to the total amount, which sometimes can be up to more than 100,000 Nairas. If you neglect this fact, the seemingly cheaper car would end up cost you a fortune. 

Tip 7: Never skipping the VIN check

Sometimes the image of the car you want appears flawless or with just some small marks on the website, but you shouldn't trust it right away. VIN check can reveal all the car history if it has been involved in some kinds of accidents. To check this, you can go to the Carfax website to search for its report.

a man digging his head into a car's engine

Dig really deep to see the hidden information

Tip 8: Always talk to the dealer before closing the deal

When you set your mind on a car, the next step would be to contact the dealer to see if what they're about to say matches with what appears online. Also, if possible, have someone, maybe one of your friend or sibling in the USA test the vehicle. If the owner refuses, ditch the deal right away. 

Tip 9: Don't fall for "certified dealers"

Another tip on the phrase "certified used car dealer". The phrase itself is a little bit tricky since there are two kinds of certifications: one from the manufacturers and one created by auto dealers, which cannot be regulated in a lawful way; and different auto dealers would have different definitions for what is "certified". Make sure that the certification you get is from the car's manufacturer.

Tip 10: Consider the mileage

When it comes to used cars, we advise our buyers to immediately look for the mileage. If you want to find an authentic website that evaluates this aspect, you can search for the site Kelley Blue Book. This will reveal how many miles the car has traveled. It even exposed if the odometer has been rolled back or not. Ideally, if you have a friend that's a mechanic or a mechanic that you can trust, you can ask him to go over to the dealer to inspect the car for you. 

a mechanic examining the car's engine

It's ideal to have a mechanic that is a friend to inspect the vehicle for you

Tip 11: If possible, find a local mechanic

In the evaluation process, if your mechanic found any defects, you can ask a mechanic based in the US to have it fixed or use the defects as your advantage to negotiate the price down. Some dealers don't want the burden of fixing the car so they'd likely agree to an offer from you if it's appropriate. 

Tip 12: Ask for all the documents of the car

You can ask the seller to show you all of the car's previous documents, including how many times it was taken to a maintenance service, or how many times the tires were replaced, or was it involved in some sort of accidents before. Specifically, if it has been handed around by many owners, that is a major red flag and you should walk away from the deal right away.

a car's title

A car's title is a must when it comes to purchasing a vehicle

Tip 13: The title of the car

Paper of ownership. This should be a must when considering a car. If there isn't any dishonesty with the car, the owner would happily show it to you. If they seem to hesitate or refuse to do it, turn the deal down immediately. Having said that, sometimes the reason why they can't give you the title of the car is that they still have an outstanding loan. In this case, you could consider paying this amount so that they can get back the title and show it to you, but be extra careful in this situation. The final step is asking to see the previous owner's driving license to see if it matches the information of the car

That's pretty much it. If you think this article is helpful, consider coming back tips and advice for car buying for more.

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