BUYING A PRE-OWNED OR ‘TOKUNBO’ CAR

Cars are must haves as they are major sources of transportation. It is always sweet to own a brand new one but it isn’t always realizable for all. Then, you could get a fairly used (Tokunbo, pre-owned or Belgium) vehicle which will be almost as good as new. Note, ALMOST AS GOOD AS NEW because nothing beats new truly. Most cars sold out NOT as new must have had an issue or the other. It could be accidents or minor crashes or even overuse. However, if a tokunbo car is acquired in good conditions, you would still enjoy it. Below are the major things to look out for in getting an excellent pre-owned or tokunbo or Belgium vehicle, whichever way you may want to call it.

THE PURPOSE OF THE VEHICLE

This lady wants a vehicle for her business which doesn’t require long distance travels or heavy luggage. A space bus with V6 engine may not be the right vehicle. Some buy SUVs for occasions and parties while others buy the same vehicles for off-roading, desert tricks and other heavy duty hauling. Some vehicles would be great for long distance trips while similar vehicles with different specifications will only be great for towns’ running. They can totally look the same and be totally different.

THE BODY: The body of the car is the first thing you come in contact with and the body speaks a lot. Some people will say that the engine is the vehicle but we beg to differ. In fact, we believe that the body is the vehicle. Crashes, wounds and scars that the car may have experienced will be on its body no matter what anyone can do. You would find uneven spots, badly panel-beating jobs and bad paint jobs. Some may have rusts from exposure to the elements. All these are signs that you should look closer to those areas you find such. If you don’t know how to analyze that, call me…seriously though, be willing to pay someone to do proper inspection for you because not all signs are bad.

THE DRIVE TRAIN:

The drive train is the combination of the engine and transmission and the seamlessness of their unity. Some cars come with bad engines, some with worn out engines that couldn’t meet up with the emission standards in the country they are coming from. Some of them have their transmission replaced with the wrong ones. If these don’t feel good together, they are not good even if you can’t really pinpoint what is wrong. Transmission or gear housing can be the same but the electrical connections may not be the same. Someone buys the cheaper one and works it on the car only to find out they don’t work well. He therefore decides to let someone else carry the burden – don’t be the beast of burden.

INTERIOR

The interior may not look as much but they actually carry tons of information. The interior actually gives you an idea of how much and how well the car has been used. The roof is the most exposing. Unfortunately, a lot of people never check this out. A messed up driver seat with other seats in form tells you that the former user mostly rode alone in their car. The rug of the car may give you an idea of how much the car has been at the mechanic’s or even how much suffering the car has endured.

ODOMETER READING

The odometer tells you how much distance the car has covered in its life time. The lower the vehicle mileage, the more expensive it is likely to be. Some speedometers may not have been functional for some time which means that the odometer wouldn’t have read at those times. Some crooks however tune it backwards to fool you that it hasn’t covered much distance. The truth is that it may not be fiscally smart to go after all the histories of the vehicles you check out but an expert can feel it if the car has done more than its clock is showing. I drove a 99 Camry (Pencil) sometime ago. It read 88,000 on the clock but I could bet that it had done around 200,000 miles if not more.

WHEELS AND STUDS

broken or worn studs require immediate replacement

These parts of vehicles most people never inspect are the wheels, wheel studs and lug nuts. Some crashes would have twisted the wheels the wrong ways which make them stand abnormally which will wear out your tyres speedily while not delivering maximum stability. There are various parts of the wheels that hold them in place the studs being some of them. The studs are designed to share the weight of the car and the load aboard it. If one stud is not in place, the others will share its own weight which means that they will fail sooner than later. There may be one wheel nut that is a safety lock nut per wheel. If you have those on, ask for the lock socket. If it isn’t there, get all wheel nuts in place.

CHASSIS

The chassis is the strong frame that runs underneath the vehicle. It is the foundation of the car and that is what the entire suspension system is attached to. Many test-drive the cars while in the car which is not a bad idea but they don’t let others drive the car while they watch its movement from the front and the rear. Some of these cars are so messed up that they move sideways. These chassis are forged calculatedly and carefully to aid perfect weight support and stability of the vehicle at speed. If the car had a crash that affects the chassis, this balance is tipped which implies that the car may never be stable especially at speed. In fact, such a car is fit for the junkyard.

CUSTOMS DUTY AND CHASSIS NUMBER

Most countries have their customs in place to give every vehicle that comes into the country and other goods their numbers to prove that such cars and goods were not smuggled. Your vehicle has a chassis number which is totally its thumbprint exclusive to it – no other vehicle on earth will have it. That chassis number is given a code called the C-number. The C-number carries the basic information of your car and its seventeen digit chassis number. Once you have decided to have that car, do one last diligence of getting its C-number to the nearest customs office for confirmation. If your dealer is not willing to let you have a check or they tell you that it doesn’t cover some states, that car doesn’t have a genuine customs duty covering it. It may cost some small cash to check but it is worth it because if it doesn’t have and customs find out on the road, you can as well kiss your car good bye.

PRE-REGISTRATION

Cars get registration plates and documentation from the licensing offices once they have been acquired by the end users. Interestingly, some people decide to sell off the same cars after a few weeks after it may have been registered. Some others try to sell off the car as though it had not been registered which is a crooked thing to do. Whichever ways, be sure you are getting exactly what you bargained for. The number plates in Nigeria have both the information of the car and its owner on them. You can verify those too. The chassis number of the car which cannot be changed should be used to confirm. Ignorance they say is not an excuse under the law especially when the issue of a stolen vehicle is the case.

Nigeria or any African country is not supposed to be a refuse dump. Do all the due diligence to make sure that only roadworthy cars are brought in. if the importer can’t sell some bad cars, he is less likely to import more bad cars. Our roads will definitely be safer since good cars are better controlled. Be willing to pay an expert to make a proper search for you if you don’t know what to look out for. Tell your mechanic you will pay him to do this inspection for you. He shouldn’t bargain with the dealer to your own detriment.

Stay safe on the roads.

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