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Buying Guide - How to buy a used car in India?

Snapshot: You need to have a sharp eye to make sure that the car hasn't got any major issues. For this, you need to take care of some of the factors that are discussed inside.

Picking a new car is tough but picking a used car is even tougher. With a new car, the only tough decision for you would be choosing the right car and variant but in case of a used car, not only do you have to narrow down on a couple of cars, you also have to find the same cars in a healthy state. You need to have a sharp eye to make sure that the car hasn’t got any major issues. For this, you need to take care of some of the factors that are discussed below. 

Type of car
Figure out what cars do you want to buy. Don’t just narrow down on a specific car as you might not find exactly what your need. Narrow down to a couple of cars from the same class that you would be okay buying and then start looking. Determine the kilometres you are going to clock and the kind of fuel you need. Diesel cars would obviously be the tool of choice if you are planning to spend a lot of time on highways. The pressures inside a diesel engine go very high due to turbocharging and high compression ratios and that is why they are made very strong. This makes them last longer as compared to petrol engines. However as the initial prices of diesel cars are higher, a used diesel car would also be priced higher as compared to petrol car. In fact the demand of diesel engines has pushed the prices of used petrol cars towards south. So if you are not going to drive around a lot, find a used petrol car. The engines don’t survive as long as a diesel but you can find cars with lower odometer reading easily.

Set your standards
Once you have decided on the kind of cars, you need to understand the state of cars you will find. You don’t want to buy a car that is already on its deathbed just because it is priced lower. Set a standard for what is the maximum odometer reading and car age that you can buy. Try to determine the justified price for that particular car in that particular state by researching. Don’t be lured by any vehicles if they are beyond your acceptable standards.

Don’t blindly go for name
The popular cars would obviously be priced higher in second hand car market as compared to the relatively unpopular ones. Cars like Maruti Suzuki Swift, Honda City and Toyota Innova fetch really attractive in prices when it comes to reselling. But this time you are on the opposite end. There are a lot of cars that are proven to be reliable but didn’t take off well. These cars will be available at better prices as compared to the popular ones. Just make sure the model isn’t discontinued entirely as availability of parts would become an issue in such a case. There is also one more reason for picking such cars. With a very popular model like Suzuki Swift, you don’t know if the buyer was well informed about the car. He/ She might have picked it just because everyone else is doing the same. In case of a not so popular car which is impressive, there is a very strong possibility that the driver is well informed about the car and thus would have maintained it well.

Look for signs
Each car gives you little signs about how its life has been. The tyres tell the age of car very honestly. See if the tyres have the same manufacturing year as the car. Tyres can survive for long with a decent driver and if the car hasn’t clocked a lot of miles, there is something very doubtful about replaced tyres. Is the person a bad driver? Was he running it on bad alignment? Did the car suffer a major crash? Also check for uneven wear on the tyres as this could also be a sign of ill maintenance. If the tyres have been replaced after running their usual course, see what tyres have been put in their place. If you spot tyres of different make or some cheap tyres, move away from the vehicle. It has been run on a budget and thus he/she would have cut corners in other services and repairs as well.

ALSO: Know the top 5 Advantages of buying a used car

Try to avoid lowest trim models of hatchbacks and budget sedan cars as well unless you are very much convinced. There are a couple of reasons we are suggesting this. First is that you won’t be paying just a little extra amount for a higher variant as compared to a new car and for that you will get lot of safety features and equipment. The other thing is that someone picking the base trim on a low end car probably had a limited budget and thus he/ she would have cut corners during the life of vehicle as well. And we are sure you know the importance of regular maintenance of the vehicle.

Take your time
If you like a vehicle, take your sweet time in testing the vehicle. Don’t just drive straight down a highway. Try driving in the city traffic to figure out the state of throttle, clutch and cooling system. Take the car to an empty area. Drive the car around in circles in both the directions. Any unusual wear with the powertrain can be noticed this way. keep the music system turned off and also switch off the air con if possible while keeping the windows rolled up to notice the unusual sounds.

Are you looking to buy/sell one? Have a look at the latest pre-owned cars here

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