Every morning my father gets up an hour earlier than he must—a ritual which started right after he bought his car seven years ago. Post the morning tea and newspaper routine; he lumbers outside with a bucket full of suds and an old cloth.
The car waits patiently on the curb for its owner, hardly daring to breathe. My father begins the dusting and the cleaning, the waxing and the polishing, and lo behold, in a trice, the car is happily basking in the sun—squeaky clean and lemony fresh.
Once I asked my dad why he had to clean the car every day, even if it doesn’t require cleaning. His—response? It was his pride and joy.
Whether brand new, or second-hand, we tend to become attached to this prized possession. With the standard of living making cars pricier with each consecutive model, the option for used cars becomes a viable one. Why spend a bomb when you can buy the same more cheaply and then change it for another vehicle after a few years without feeling too guilty?
If it sounds like a good plan for you, then we ask you to mind the pitfalls!
Recently, after a customer filed an official complaint against a Mumbai-based car dealer, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDR) Madurai directed the dealer to pay Rs. 3.95 lakh to the complainant.
N Sudha had purchased a three-year-old car from the dealer at Rs 3.4 lakh. Shortly after, the car started giving trouble, until finally, it broke down at a toll plaza. Sudha immediately called the dealer and asked the car to be towed to the showroom. The dealer fixed the car and returned it to Sudha, but this kept up for a long time. The car would break down, the dealer would repair it, for it to break down again after some time.
Exasperated and angry over being duped, Sudha dragged the dealer to court and won the case.
When it comes to buying second-hand cars, precaution is always better than cure. Here is a list of seven things you must keep in mind before buying a used car.
1. Take an expert with you for the check-up
And by that, we mean a trusted mechanic. If you are new to the city or don’t have a garage that you visit regularly, take along a friend or a relative who loves cars and knows them inside out. This is crucial because if they are passionate about cars, they will notice things that you may not!
2. Make sure you look at the vehicle in daylight
The better the light, the more details you notice. Whether it is a scratch mark on the bumper or a dent in the rear, pointing to an accident, it is essential that you scrutinise these things in ample light. It is up to you then, whether to bargain on the price or ask the owner/dealer to repair the damages.
3. Check the service history
Along with the damages on the outside, you need to find out how well the insides of the car work. One of the best ways to get this checked is to go through the service history of the car. If the owner has had the car serviced at authorised centres, you have easy access to its history. If the service history is irregular, then you should re-think about buying the car.
4. Make a checklist
It is good to have a checklist of all the functions and features of the car. This way, you can take your time to go through every element of the vehicle and make sure it functions properly. Whether it’s the fuel indicator light, speedometer or the lock on the rear seat, each feature is just as important as the other and a checklist will help you examine them.
5. Some tips for your checklist
Apart from the features you see every time you drive, here is a cheat sheet to examine those parts that are out of sight:
• Check if the engine and chassis numbers match with those on the registration papers.
• Take the car on a drive on a relatively empty street. Crank the speed up to 40-50 kmph and apply brakes—both slowly and suddenly—to check how they work (make sure no other vehicle or pedestrian comes in the way of danger while doing so). Vibrations, squeaky noises and the inability to stop suddenly will tell you what you need to know about the car.
• Get the air filters and oil pipes checked by an expert.
• Evenly worn out tyres, smooth accelerators and windows indicate that the car was maintained properly.
• Check if the car is letting out smoke through its exhaust pipes.
6. A long test drive
Don’t just drive the car for a long time. Make sure you drive it on both empty and busy streets, up and down steep ones and on a smooth road as well as a bumpy, narrow street. This drive is for you to check the indicators, braking ability, smoothness of the steering among other things. Make the most out of the drive to examine the car’s condition.
• If the vehicle is registered in the same Regional Transport Office (RTO) jurisdiction as where you live, you need to fill out and submit forms 29 & 30 to the transport office. If the car is registered in a different jurisdiction, you will also need a No Objection Certificate from the RTO where it is registered which will transfer the name of the registered party from the owner to you, the new owner!
• You need to get the insurance policy transferred to your name too. Or buy a new plan, terminating the previous owner’s
• Similarly, get the service book, Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate and (if applicable) the CNG/LPG certification from the owner
• Make sure that there are no pending loan payments before you buy the car
• The seller needs to provide the original invoice of the car to the buyer. In the case where the invoice is unavailable, a valid receipt should be provided. This will also help you compare the original price of the vehicle with what you are paying.
Taking the help of registered used-car dealers would ease many of your problems. But it’s also best to be informed about what you need to know.
8. Clean and fix your car before your first drive
If there are any fixes to be done, like brakes, exhaust pipes etc. you can either ask the owner to do them or get them done yourself. The price can be negotiated accordingly. However, once the final papers are signed and the car is yours legally, make sure you clean it thoroughly. Take it to an authorised cleaner and get it polished from the outside and cleaned from the inside too. You also need to get the fluids and oils changed before you take the car for its first drive.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)