How to determine salvage cars in Nigeria following these 5 steps

Posted by: 234DRIVE x NAIJAUTO.COM

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Salvage cars are cars that have been repaired from very bad accidents or disasters then shipped to Nigeria for sale. This post helps you to tell them apart and avoid getting yourself scammed.

The salvage car industry has been booming of late because it is a much cheaper alternative to owning other cars on sale. Oh, sorry! I forgot to mention what the salvage car business in Nigeria is. 

Salvage cars are cars that have been given salvage titles because they have gone through a form of accident and was not fit to be repaired by the Insurance company. I want to show you How to determine salvage cars in Nigeria that have been fixed and shipped to Nigeria for sale as normal cars. 


Salvage repair can be very deceitful to car buyers

It is not a crime to buy and repair salvage cars in Nigeria, it is even a cheaper alternative to buy our dream cars. If for example, you really want to have a 2008 Lexus ES350, the regular price tag is about ₦2,500,000, the one with a Salvage title will sell for about ₦500,000 while you spend about ₦500,000 fixing it so that it is a standard Lexus again. Now, Imagine buying that same salvage 2008 Lexus ES350 at the price of the normal one after being repaired; that is a scam if the seller told you it is a fresh 'tokunbo car'.

Selling repaired salvage title cars is a form of scam in Nigeria. Car dealers import these repaired Salvage cars and sell it to buyers at the same price as Unsalvaged cars. This is why you need to know how to identify salvage cars for sale in Nigeria so that you don't throw your money into a pit.

How to determine salvage cars in Nigeria with 5 different steps!

1. Do a VIN Test

There is a way to check cars that were shipped in from some countries on Carfax and other VIN checking websites.

Once you pay the fee online, all you have to do is type in the Chassis/Vehicle Identification Number and other details of the car you are inspecting for Salvage characteristics. The full details of the car from the country where it is being shipped in from will be displayed on your computer screen.


This is how to find the VIN

Just recently, a friend ran a VIN check on a 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA, the worst and best looking Mercedes-Benz ever that was being advertised as 'fresh off the boat' tokunbo with no salvage title. The results were so shocking.

This white CLA had been accidental and it was very badly affected on the right rear. The wheels had been changed and nobody could have convinced me that the car was salvage if I hadn't seen the pictures of the car while it was in America.


Sample of the VIN number or Chassis number

All these developed countries that have a very good database system take records of things like this and it is impressive. Spending ₦14,000 on checking if a car has a salvage title is a price I would gladly pay. 

2. Pay a panel beater to check the chassis and body 

If the car's VIN is not available on any of the VIN checking websites, then you have to result to the manual ways of spotting a salvage car starting from the chassis check.

You can do this easily yourself but I will highly recommend the service of an experienced panel beater that has no affiliation with the car seller. A car that was badly accidental might have had its chassis affected, make your panel beater check how straight this car's chassis is, and then go on to check for signs of collisions.

A car with a bent chassis most definitely carries a salvage title. Meanwhile, cars with bent chassis are always crabbing on the road which is a cause of accidents.


If you look well, you will see the cars are not straight

It is possible for a car to have been repaired from a collision and not carry a salvage title but still you have to note this as a possible sign. At least you know the car dealer is lying if he told you the car is still at its first body. From here you can now check for more signs of collision repairs.

3. Pay a rewire to check for flood signs 

A wiring automotive technician aka re-wire in Nigeria is the best person to check for flooded car signs on a car you are about to buy. He/she would easily know if the car was recovered from a flood by checking the wiring system and opening up some particular areas of the car.


This is easy to tell flood car

The wires hidden in some parts of the car would have reacted with water and with a visual inspection, it will be easy to tell. The wires would have turned brown at some parts and would have a particular smell. Also, you should heavily inspect for rust along the body of the car and signs of water in the dashboard.


Imagine buying a car like this

Flooded cars are cars that were victims of serious flooding that damaged the car's system until the point that it was declared unrepairable by the Insurance company that was supposed to bring the car back to life. For this car to be up and running, a lot of repairs would have gone into the car.

You don't want to pay the normal price for a car that has spent over 2 weeks swimming in water. Some cars that are victims of flood in Nigeria also should not be bought. 

4. Check the interior fittings for gaps 

The interior fittings of salvage title cars give them away on most occasions. If you notice that the doormats and other trims are not well fitted, then you should start suspecting something.


When you see cars with bad interior fittings, suspect something

I have a 4Runner that was repaired from a serious accident, its rear left doormat doesn't fit well and anyone that sees it should easily know that it was caused by an accident repair. When some cars have been restored from an accident, the body is never the same as how it was manufactured. This makes the interior fittings never fit in well.

5. Check for upgrades and facelifts 

Once you start noticing that a car has been facelifted to another year, it is a serious sign of having a salvage title.

Car dealers know that Nigerians love the idea of upgrading cars, they use this to entice car buyers into buying salvage title cars at even higher prices than the standard price because they have been facelifted/upgraded.

The sign is simpler when a dealer wants to sell you an upgraded car at the normal market price. Once you come across upgraded cars for sale like that, just see it has a better reason to carry out the 4 steps I have listed out earlier.


Now that you have learnt how to determine salvage cars in Nigeria in 5 simple steps, you definitely would never be a victim of the salvage car business scam. It is very okay when you buy repaired salvage cars at lower prices than standard prices of cars. You are taking a huge risk and you must be rewarded by paying a cheaper price.

>>> Get brand new, foreign used, and locally used cars on our car for sale section. Do check them out!

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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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