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Old 9th November 2006, 18:54   #1
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ARTICLE: How to buy a *USED* Car in India

A rapidly growing market for new cars can only mean one thing: a rapidly growing market for used cars. Buying a pre-owned car makes a lot of sense even if it isn’t as straightforward as buying new. Peace of mind is hard to find while shopping for a pre-owned car and the chances of getting fleeced are high.

Team-BHP has compiled a list of what you need to know on your search for the perfect “pre-worshipped” vehicle. This article has been compiled by GTO and Adya33. Also thanks to deepashpuri for providing many important pointers through this thread.

STEP ONE : Homework

Which car? After deciding on your price range you should outline what sort of car best meets your needs – if you are a family of two you shouldn’t bother buying a large MUV like the Toyota Innova. With a growing range of makes and models you will probably find that several cars fit your budget. Analyze your needs before you decide on a car.

Which model? A little research will reveal the makes and models that fit your budget. In India, Japanese cars enjoy the best long-term resale value because of their reliability, but diesel cars also sell well on the second-hand market. Reliability should be high on your checklist; research it by looking at the quality ratings of each car. The Team-BHP forums have a comprehensive databank and archive of user reviews that can help you decide. Remember: a car that wasn’t reliable new won’t be reliable used.

Which source? The Internet, used car dealers, brokers, authorized dealers, newspaper ads and personal referrals can show you what’s available. It’s generally a good idea to interact directly with the previous owner, so the Internet and print classifieds are great sources of good deals on used cars.

Which finance? Cash is king, but there are many financing companies able to offer loans for your used car purchase. Bear in mind that interest rates for loans on used cars are higher than those for new cars. Click here to read more about getting good financing rates. Another highly recommended option is to avail of a loan against fixed deposits (Link to full discussion).

Last edited by GTO : 22nd January 2011 at 11:32. Reason: Correcting link to Finance Article
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Old 9th November 2006, 18:55   #2
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STEP TWO : Things to keep in mind

History: It’s best to choose a car with a fully documented service history. A car that has been maintained exclusively at a single authorized service station should score very high on your rating. A good way to find out about previous accident damage is to contact the seller’s regular service station or insurance company.

Certified Cars: Some car manufacturers and dealerships offer certified used cars. These pre-owned cars go through detailed checks where defective and worn-out parts are replaced. A well refurbished certified car may well be worth the extra price, but some dealers only perform superficial work and have been known to commit petty frauds like odometer tampering (related thread).

Warranties: Some dealerships offer warranties on their used cars. Try to get as much information as you can about the warranty coverage, duration and other terms and conditions.

Great unpopular cars: Many reliable cars just weren’t popular when they were new; in the second-hand market these are often great bargains. The fifth generation Honda Accord and Fiat Palio 1.6 are just two of the many bargain models available.

Never buy a modified car: You can be certain a modified car was driven “enthusiastically” by its previous owner and there can be uncertainty about the quality of the modifications. Walk away from any highly modified car.

Avoid certain discontinued models: Cars like the Opel Astra and the Ford Escort suffer from an inconsistent supply of spares, high maintenance costs and terrible resale value. Don’t even consider buying a car whose manufacturer no longer exists (Peugeot 309, Daewoo Cielo, etc).

Repossessed cars: A car that has been repossessed by a finance company is bad news. It will be difficult to procure the Certificate of Registration and the original owner may make trouble even if you do get the car transferred to your name.

Lightly used cars: A car that is ten years old with only 30,000 km on the odometer is probably not a good buy. Cars are built to run and long periods of inactivity cause problems.

Repainted cars: A car less than five years old that has been repainted should prompt questions. Was it because of an accident or was it just for cosmetic purposes?

Last edited by GTO : 22nd December 2014 at 14:33. Reason: Adding link to odometer fraud thread :)
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Old 9th November 2006, 18:55   #3
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STEP THREE : Checking Out the Car

Expert friend: If you don’t know much about cars, bring a knowledgeable friend or mechanic with you. They may discover problems unknown to you and a second opinion can be helpful.

Call before you leave: Clarify all the details about a car before you travel any distance to see it. This will save you precious time if you discover the car isn’t worth looking at.

Daytime: Always examine a car in broad daylight; darkness can conceal obvious damage.

Cold Start: A cold engine will give away far more than one that has reached operating temperatures. Insist on starting the car from cold, and work the engine up yourself.

Documentation: Carefully check a car’s original documentation for discrepancies. This is also a good time to go through the car’s service history to see how it has been maintained – service records are very important. Some documents that you should verify include:
1. RTO tax receipt: This is now a one-time tax and the original owner should pay it.
2. Registration of the car: Check for the state of registration and see if the letters “DRC” appear on it anywhere. DRC means Duplicate Registration Certificate.
3. Insurance: Check whether the insurance is comprehensive or basic third-party and when it will expire.
4. Original invoice: Take a look at the car’s original invoice. Details like the chassis and engine numbers can be found here.
5. Finance NOC: If you are looking at a financed car, make sure that the NOC is available. Cross-check with the finance company directly to make sure that the NOC is genuine and there is no loan outstanding on the car.

Odometer tampering: Artificially lowering a car’s odometer is a common malpractice in the used market. Most cars sold by dealers from the unorganized segment have had their odometers clocked back. Audit the service records for inconsistencies. Call the dealer / workshop (where the car was maintained) to procure historical data on the car's odometer readings at each visit (dealers always maintain these records). The date of tyre manufacture may also indicate the actual mileage traveled.

Verify Engine size: There are far too many smaller engine variants being rebadged, and sold off as, larger engines (e.g. Honda 1.3 being sold as a 1.5). Ensure that the car is indeed the variant that you wish to buy. Check engine details in the registration & insurance documents for starters. Also decode the VIN (see point below).

Verify date of Manufacture: Almost every car has a "Vehicle Identification Number" mentioned at several places on the body. Note this VIN down, and decode it online (Team-BHP has many threads that will guide you on locating and decoding the same. Here's one). The decoded information will tell you about the car, including the year of manufacture.

Don’t judge a book by its cover: Even if a car looks like a great bargain, don’t get too excited. Calmly check to make sure that the beauty is more than skin deep.

Comprehensive test drive: Switch off the stereo and drive the car under as many conditions as possible: bumper-to-bumper traffic, open highways, inclines and declines.

The mechanic’s word: A mechanic’s judgment may be the most valuable piece of information available to you. Have a trusted mechanic look over the car for accident damage and to check its overall condition. Invest the small amount of money to have an authorized dealership run a complete check of the car.

Last edited by GTO : 27th February 2015 at 10:45. Reason: Adding point on "odometer tampering"
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Old 9th November 2006, 18:56   #4
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STEP FOUR : After checking out the car:

Promises: Verbal agreements are worthless. Make sure the seller puts all of his commitments in writing.

No Pressure: As the buyer you have the luxury of refusing to purchase a car that doesn’t suit you. Do not allow the person selling the car to pressure you into agreeing to something you don’t like. You would be surprised how many people give in to argumentative salespeople.

Negotiations: Remember – the ball is in your court and the buyer is king. No used car has a fixed price and the price you will get is directly related to your negotiating skills. Ask a friend or relative to help if you are not comfortable negotiating alone.

Fake owners: Watch out for sellers who have just bought a car to make a quick buck on the resale. If the form is already signed (or the "owner" hesitates to sign on the delivery note) it is a sign that you are dealing with a broker.

Duplicate keys: Insist on a duplicate key with delivery.

Insurance: Very important. Please have the insurance transferred to your name upon delivery. Many forget to transfer the insurance coverage (along with the RC book entry) and face a problem if and when an accident / theft takes place. Unless the insurance is transferred to your name, you have absolutely no coverage (on paper).

Brokerage: Bargain on the brokerage fees. Though most charge 2% of the sales price it is easy to bring the fee down to half of that.

Delivery Note & Transfer Papers: When taking delivery of the car, record the date, time and odometer reading on the Delivery Note. This will ensure that any outstanding liabilities on the car prior to that date will be the seller’s responsibility. To view (and download) the entire list of RTO papers, click here.

Complete Service: We recommend that, upon delivery, you must get the car entirely serviced and all fluids / filters / belts changed (as necessary).

Good luck with your search!

Last edited by GTO : 3rd August 2009 at 15:26. Reason: Adding the complete service point
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Old 10th November 2006, 18:13   #5
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Nice info

I need experts to help me on these
  1. how to find out troubles in the engine or transmission.
  2. how to check the suspensions
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Old 11th November 2006, 00:21   #6
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And also pray to god... that apart and over all the great Indian ingenuity has not thought of any other way to sucker the hapless buying public!!!

my above lines you may/may not agree carries more seriousness than humor as there are umpteen stories i have heard in which even after taking maximum precautions the consumer gets cheated and the scam is perfected by finding loops in the precautions themselves!!!

so i repeat the famous lines recited by lord Krishna in baghavad gita and wish the warriors(open market)buyers best of luck
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Old 11th November 2006, 10:45   #7
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Buying a used car can be more work than it feels.

Expect to keep 10-15 K extra to get the car up to date after you buy it.
Try and buy cars that you have seen and know the owner.
Do not trust agents or even companied like Automartindia they have a good sales force but really no knowledge about cars .
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Old 11th November 2006, 12:56   #8
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I would agree with Dr Fate that buying a used car is a lot about luck. But as they say....luck favors the ones who work the hardest.

And our guidelines will certainly help in minimising the risk factor.
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Old 12th November 2006, 09:33   #9
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well to answer Senor Kum...
Suspension check.
1. -Drive it!! Yup, pick a lousy road, see what kind of shocks reach you, how much they make the dorrs and panels rattle. Does the car bottom out. If you get a nice hard thud, the suspension is shot (Unless you are WRC style thru that road!!)

2. Push it! - stand at the wheel arch, just nest to the wheel, using both your palms push down hard and let go. The car should go down, bounce back up just slightly beyond it original position ONCE and stop. If it bounces a few
times, the dampers are gone. If its ridiculosly easy to push it in, the suspension may be well shot as well.
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Old 11th December 2006, 23:36   #10
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@ rranjith_kum .... engine & transmission troubles cannot be determined by a new car user..not even for a regular takes a lot to know these option for you is to take a trusted mechanic, pay him his fee for every car that you see & take his opinion. believe me , they can see a lot more than what we can all see...
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Old 21st December 2006, 06:02   #11
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What are the important things to be taken care of when buying a 2nd hand diesel car like Indica ?

PS : I'm a big zero when it comes to diesel cars...
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Old 21st December 2006, 10:02   #12
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Indica diesels are bought for high mileage running. Therefore, and irrespective of the odometer reading, get an engine compression test done.
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Old 26th January 2007, 01:59   #13
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Good post.
Quite informative for buying used car.
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Old 12th February 2007, 07:37   #14
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Indica diesels are bought for high mileage running. Therefore, and irrespective of the odometer reading, get an engine compression test done.
GTO.... what is this engine compression test? I have an Indica which reads app 94K and would like to go in for a test that could let me know where she stands.
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Old 19th February 2007, 11:15   #15
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damn! i wish i had read this before i bought my city...
it was done up... body kits, air filter, race headers... after buying it i've faced so many problems wit the car its not even funny!!
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