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Used Car Buying Tips

What to look for when you buy a 'Used Car'?

Buying a used car is more challenging than buying a new car, because buying a used car takes more effort than buying a new car, since the condition and usage details of the car have to be verified before purchase. However, used car buying can become a hassle-free task if you browse through some of our expert tips.

Used Car buying tips


Here are some great tips to make your used car buying process a success:

Used Car Buying TipsTake Decisions Before Short Listing Your Cars

Some basic factors that you must decide on before you start looking at cars are as follows:

Budget/Price: Your budget is the first thing that you should take into consideration before making a purchase decision. Choose to look at only those used cars that fall into your pre-estimated budget. Sometimes the price quoted may be a few thousand more than what the seller is expecting, so you can select accordingly. In case you are looking at EMI options, then use online resources that help you calculate your monthly EMI based on the amount of loan your budget can handle.

Requirements: It is essential that you know what “type” of car you are looking for and what are the basic needs that you want your four-wheeler to fulfill for you. Decide on whether you want a family sedan that fits 4 to 5 easily, a sporty SUV to commute long distances or travel a lot, a small car that fits 4 and gives great mileage and is best for city-driving, and so on. Other than the type of car, it is also important that you decide on whether you are more comfortable with a petrol or diesel engine.

Fuel Economy: With fluctuating fuel prices, mileage has become a key concern while making a car purchase decision. Visit various online car portals to find out what the estimated mileage of the type of cars you are looking at is. Assume that the car will give you approximately 2 to 4 km/litre less than the estimated mileage shown on the Internet.

Used Car Buying TipsSelect A Used Car Seller

The best method of buying a used car is to search online. Following are some of the best tips to help you decide about who you can buy a used car from:

  • Today, most of the car manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, and Toyota have their own wings of used car business. You can directly contact the dealers of these manufacturers for your car purchase via the Internet or their contact info on their websites. You can even contact used car dealers that are not associated with any specific brand, but ensure that you always deal with large or known used car dealers.
  • You can browse the Internet for used car (car portals are an ideal place to search and fill out a request form for the type of used cars you are looking for and these portals usually will contact the dealer closest to you and give them your contact details for further interactions.).
  • You can also browse through various used car classifieds in the newspaper and magazines and tick some of the options that you feel is the best. These classifieds have the names and contact numbers of the seller. Most of these sellers are private sellers and, therefore, you can save some amount that is otherwise paid to the broker.

Used Car Buying TipsShort-List and Research Your Choice of Used Cars

Once you have decided on your budget and your requirements from the car you want to buy, short-listing the cars that suit you are quite easy. However, to make the best decision and the best buy, it is important that you do a bit of market research. It is not as cumbersome as it sounds, because you can do all your research online since most sellers today prefer the online media rather than print to advertise their cars. This not only saves you time, but also helps you get a closer look at the various cars before you zero in on the one you want to buy.

Here are some of the steps you can follow while you do a market research to short-list your choice of used cars:

  • Check out the various car portals and newspapers to see if they list any car models that will suit the requirements you have decided on.
  • Once you have a list of 8 to 10 different cars that you can choose from, read the information that has been provided about these cars on the site.
  • Check out the photographs and other details that a used car advertised on the Internet usually displays.
  • Read online car reviews of all the different car models that you had chosen.
  • Check if any of your friend or relative owns the various cars of your choice and find out how they rate the car performance and the car service stations.
  • Find out the market value of the cars of your choice, so that you know the approximate range that you can get it for. For market prices, you can contact car manufacturers or use online quote systems to have a fair idea.
  • Don't just look at one used car and make your judgment. Finalise on three to four options available with different used car sellers before you finalise your purchase.

Used Car Buying TipsCheck Details of Car History

One of the most important aspects that you need to inquire into after finalising on the cars you want to buy is to check car history. Some of the factors that you need to look into before making a used car purchase is as follows:

Distance Travelled: Check the distance the car has travelled till date. A petrol car should average a distance of 12,000 km/year, while a diesel car should average about 15,000 km/year. You can relax these figures by 10% based on the condition and maintenance of the car or the price of the car as quoted. However, if a car has travelled more than these indicated distances on a yearly basis, then it is advisable that you not buy the car. If a car has covered more than 50,000 km in 3 years, then do not purchase the car, unless of course it is available dirt cheap!

Age of the Car: If the car has crossed three years, then don’t give a second thought on buying the car. Used cars that are older than 3 years will cause immense difficulties when you apply for car finance or car insurance, besides the car may not be certified.

Number of Car Ownerships: Used car is a good purchase if it is owned by a single owner but if multiple owners have already driven the car, the performance and mileage may be considerably low. Therefore, it is preferable to stick to a car that has a single ownership history.

Original Car Papers and Certificates: Check the car insurance papers and vehicle history report. These documents reveal details related to the corresponding car and its road history, such as if the car has been in any accidents or if it has seen any recurring technical faults. Also ensure that the car owner has the original Registration Certificate (RC). An original copy of the vehicle warranty and maintenance certificate is also an essential component that the seller should be able to show you while selling the car.

Used Car Buying TipsEvaluate Car Condition

When you are satisfied with the car history, you need to evaluate the condition of the car from both the exterior as well as the interior perspective.

Exterior Checks

  • Inspect the exterior of the car to ensure that it is well-maintained and that any blemishes on the exterior has been considered by the seller while quoting the car price:
  • Check for dents, scratches, and nicks on the car exterior.
  • Check if there are any obvious signs of re-painting or rusting.
  • You also need to check the condition of the tyre. If in case you find any wear and tear on the tyre, check for reasons.
  • Also check the date of manufacturing on the car tyres. If in case the date on the tyre do not match the date of car purchase, inquire about the specific reasons as to why the tyres were replaced.
  • Check if there is any oil leakage in the place where the car is parked. Black or brown stains indicate an oil or transmission fluid leak and purple stain indicates leakage of the transmission fluid.
  • Check the condition of the bonnet. If the car has met with any frontal type of accidents, then there may be some visible signs on the bonnet that indicates a paint job or replacement of parts.

Interior Checks

Inspect the following interior aspects of the car:

  • Check the condition of the engine. Any serious frontal accidents usually leave a mark on the engine. If the engine is not the same as indicated in the car documents, then inquire into the reasons for engine change.
  • Check the quality of the steering wheel, brake pedals, and the dashboard. See if the cockpit and instrumentation appeals to you.
  • Check for the quality and look of other car electronics and technologies that the car interiors are equipped with.
  • Check how many new and advanced features the car owner has fitted in the interiors of the car. You can evaluate the car price depending on the same.
  • Check under the rubber lining on the interior of the car door. If the car has received a paint job due to an accident, the owner may not have re-painted the invisible portions of the car.
  • Also check the quality of the car seat covers and other upholstery.

General Checks

Apart from the exterior and interior check you also need to check whether the car has been a victim of floods or water logging. In cities like Mumbai where there is heavy rainfall, most of the cars get damaged during monsoon.

  • Look for water lines marks on the engine and the radiator.
  • Check for presence of moisture on the metal rust under the car seat.
  • Check if the air filters are soaked with debris.

Used Car Buying TipsTest Drive the Car

After all the checks are complete, your final test for a used car before you decide to purchase it is a test drive of the car. Here are some of the factors that you should consider while taking a test drive:

  • Check the efficiency of the ignition system. The car should start at the first attempt without any problems.
  • Pay attention to the synchronisation and smoothness of the steering wheel, brake pedals, clutch, and the gear shifts.
  • Check if there is any kind of unwanted noises or vibrations coming from the car engine or other parts while driving the car at different speeds.
  • Verify whether you get the promised mileage or not.
  • Also check for efficiency of acceleration and deceleration.

Used Car Buying TipsNegotiate and Finalise the Deal

After evaluating the condition and performance of the used car, if you are satisfied with everything, make a final decision. Here are some of the best tips for negotiating a deal with a used car seller:

  • Give some room for negotiation. As you already know the market price of the car and the maximum amount you are willing to pay, you can start negotiating with the cheapest possible price.
  • Slightly raise the price in accordance to the condition and performance of the car after you have made your first offer.
  • If the seller still does not agree to it, raise the price further keeping in mind the number of components under warranty maintenance and the extra features that the car owner has added to the car.
  • If the seller is not satisfied, make your final offer and stick to it. Your final offer is the price that you think is the right price for the car and is within your budget. If the seller is not agreeable to your final offer, then go to your next car option. However, keep a 10% flexibility of the final offer, if required.
  • Discuss the mode of payment with the seller. It is always advisable to pay through a demand draft. You should avoid making payment through cash.
  • Go through all the legal papers carefully before signing the deal.
  • Be cautious when dealing with legal formalities and make sure that you get the car transferred to your name and complete all RTO formalities before making the final payment.
  • Once the car is in your name, it is always advisable to give it in for servicing, change the car battery, and replenish the engine oil.