I once bought a second-hand car, which I didn’t test the right way, and I paid for it by becoming a regular visitor to the mechanics. I don’t want you to go through what I went through, so I have a bit of advice that may prove helpful. Here are some tips I don’t want you to lose sight of:
- Go with your own mechanic: Very very important, as he may detect big faults that you think are small. But the mechanic you go with should be trustworthy, not the type that will collect bribe from the seller for hiding faults from you.
- Test the car in ‘heavy’ traffic: Some faults can only be detected in traffic jams when the car is forced to move slowly. Some cars would quench after moving at snail speed for 2 minutes due to various kinds of fault. Maybe as a result of an unserviced injector. Who knows?! your mechanic or rewire should be able to point out the cause, and advise you if you should still buy.
- Test the car in light traffic: I didn’t say you should seize the opportunity to overspeed o. I said test the car on a road with light traffic because, some car faults like the car shaking because of bad alignment, or slowing because of bad gear would show only when the car is moving freely.
- Check the mileage: You can find the mileage meter on the dash board. A high mileage shows that the car has been seriously used by its previous owner(s). Let’s say your target car has a mileage of 120 000 km. It is up to you to decide whether you will refuse to buy a car with such a mileage, or whether you will use the mileage as a bargaining chip to reduce the price. Let me say that high mileage doesn’t necessarily mean that the car has been badly maintained. Some people may have used a car to really really drive, but maintained it well; while some low mileage cars may have been badly maintained. The choice is up to you, based on your instinct and the advice of your mechanic.
Buying a second-hand car depends a lot on luck because there is no way for you to know how the previous owners may have used the car. It is only from signs like the ones above that you can get a clue.
Pay heed to the signs so that your car wouldn’t spend more time in the mechanic workshop than it spends on the road.