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Tips to buy a used car

Buying tips

Buying second hand vehicles always involves a fair element of chance. The rest depends on how well you can scrutinize the product before committing, thus reducing risks of breakdowns, repairs and repentance. Dependability, of used vehicles are largely influenced by wear and tear inflicted by previous owners' driving habits and the frequency of maintenance.

To decide on the right car and estimate accurately the remaining life of the vehicle and the amount of refurbishment required, we suggest the following steps in our buyer's guide, comprehensively laid out for you.

What is the right car to buy?

Prior to searching for an ideal used car, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How will I use the vehicle?

If you plan to use your vehicle for commuting regularly with distances exceeding 30 kms, then a vehicle that has done below 40000 kms and is less than five years old is preferred. A vehicle with an engine size of below 1200cc will be easier on fuel consumption. However, if you intend to use the air-conditioner frequently then a car with engine size of 1000cc and above is recommended.

If you plan to use your car mainly for long drives on weekends with your family, then a vehicle between 5 to 10 years will do,provided it is thoroughly refurbished and well-maintained.You can choose a big or small car depending on the size of your family and budget.

If you plan to use your vehicle to travel outside city limits then a petrol or diesel engine car with an engine capacity of more than 1200cc is recommended. It is also important that this vehicle be less than five years old and was well maintained/refurbished to minimize breakdowns on secluded highways.

If comfort is a high priority, then a saloon shaped vehicle like an Astra, Esteem, Cielo etc. is recommended. Hatch backs will be a compromise on comfort.

If it is necessary to often run your vehicle on bad roads, off-road and hilly terrain, then we recommend a jeep, MPV or a diesel engine car. Diesel vehicles have higher torque engines and rugged suspension systems.

For those who love driving and speed - low-slung cars with peppy engines are fun. A Honda City 1.5 or Ford Ikon 1.6 in the mid-segment and an Uno 1.2 and Jubliee in the small segment would be ideal.

2. What will be my car's operational and maintenance costs?

The maintenance cost of the car will depend on how much you run your vehicle. An old diesel vehicle will have higher maintenance cost although operational cost will be lower. Maintenance cost largely depends on how well the previous owner/s ran the car. Preferably settle for a single owner car. A Parsi or doctor owned cars are found to be better maintained. Check the car history and ensure that it did not have major accident. Frequent accidents in the history of a multiowner cars indicate inherent defects.

For low maintenance choose popular and well-established models from well-established stables like Maruti 800s and Zen. Premium cars are always more expensive to maintain. Also check for the availability of spares and service centers for a particular model. E.g. for long outdated models you will find it more difficult to find spares. For Daewoo cars repairs and maintenance cost more due to non-free availability of service tools. Older popular brands like Premier Padminis and Ambassador are the cheapest on spares, and also have a wide availability.While picking a car of engine size below 1000cc, it is better to choose one that never had an Ac installed as it eats into the life of the engine.

Consider the weather condition in your city -- high humidity and proximity to the sea will take a toll on your paint and tin-work. When buying a car make sure that the paint and tinwork is in fairly good condition. Re-painting can cost anywhere between Rs.20000 to Rs.30000.


  • Always take someone with you who has good working knowledge about ยท Automobiles - irrespective of whether you are seeing a dealer or an individual seller.
  • Do not get elated about anything you see. A seller will be less inclined to negotiate with you if you give him the impression that you have just found "the perfect car."
  • Do not hesitate to ask the seller any questions you may have.
  • Never let the dealer know the price you are willing to pay. If you are asked the price you have in mind, you may reply: "I am looking for a small car. It may be a five or six-year-old model with an AC. Can you please show me a few cars in this category?"
  • Please drive extensively the car(s) that suit(s) your choice and budget. Always inspect the car under daylight.


Verify the original documents thoroughly before making any decision.