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Tips to buy a used car in India

with 33 comments


I never thought I would think about buying a used car in India. I was a looking at buying a car, and a new one at that. I started thinking in terms of buying a bigger, better hatch and I did not want a ‘Tall Boy’. The most visible (bigger, better) hatches on the road (in no particular order, mind you) were the Hyundai i10, Maruti Swift, VW Polo, Fiat Grand Punto, Ford Figo, Hyundai i20 and Honda Jazz. I was not sold on the ‘diesel makes more sense’ argument, hence was looking primarily at petrol cars.  The Polo, Punto, i20, Jazz variants I felt were too expensive and I was not particularly impressed by Maruti, except for the resale value and the ‘kitna deti hai’ part. Read about too many rattles and niggles on not-very-old Swifts.

That’s when I got hooked onto a website called Team-BHP. I absolutely loved the discussions going on in the forums of that site and it increased and corroborated a lot about my knowledge about cars in India. That’s what planted the thought of buying a used car into my mind. Reading so many threads about the same partly convinced me about at least having a look at used cars, in addition to new cars. That’s what opened up a whole new segment of cars that wouldn’t have factored into my budget earlier. Most impressive was this thread which was like a pictorial invitation to fulfill my wet dreams about cars at just the right price: The Best (used) Enthusiast cars for 6 lakh rupees! Or less Of course, all these were indicative prices in Mumbai, where the supply of cars is huge and the prices low (as opposed to South India, or Hyderabad). But the bug was firmly planted.

I did go through a lot more threads in the forums and gathered what to look for  in a used car and how to do the inspection. I started going through a lot of the classifieds that I came across both online and in the newspapers. I found that in this online era, the best places to find classifieds from individuals (not dealers) still remains the local newspaper (sadly), but Sulekha.com, Team-BHP classifieds do come close. Visiting used car dealers and franchises like Maruti True Value and Mahindra First Choice and Dr. Car also gives you a lot of options but prices do tend to be a bit higher than what individuals quote. Some dealers provide a few free services or maintenance services along with certified multi point Pre Delivery Checks for vehicles. An excellent site to check the indicative values of used cars in various cities is CarWale.com.

Some lessons I learnt while hunting for used cars are summarized here:

1. Never trust the seller (especially dealer) at face value. Check and analyze the car yourself. Individuals have a tendency to hype their car’s performance, fuel efficiency and comfort, while dealers’ over-hype can range from blatant misinformation to outright lies.
2. Avoid brokers as much as possible.
3. Never trust the odometer reading on a car at a dealer’s lot. It is almost always been tampered with (yes, even the electronic ones) to show a lower reading. Always judge a car by Test Driving (TD) it and getting a feel of it.
4. When going to see a car, take a comprehensive check-list and if possible, another friend or a trusted partner.  At least one of you must me fairly knowledgeable about cars. If none of you is, then preferably, take a trusted mechanic. I used to take my wife with me, she would check the rear seat comfort and/or problems and I would check the front seat and driving :)
5. As far as possible, inspect the car during daylight.
6. Ask lots of questions about the car. You can tell if the owner actually knows and cares for the car or not just by noticing the way the seller responds to your questions.
7. Check all the papers and documents of the car. If the seller poses as the owner and is actually just a broker, he will have a transfer form already signed by the original owner. Beware of such deals.
8. Go ahead with further dealings about the car only if you are genuinely happy about the car. You are under no obligation to buy a car just because the seller is pressurizing you. You can always back out of the deal and look for another car.
9.  Always get the car thoroughly checked by a mechanic before agreeing to buy the car. Twice I had been enamored enough to almost buy the car then and there, but my sense prevailed and I got it checked by a mechanic. Both times, the inspection revealed that the car had been involved in an accident and many parts had been welded or changed. In one of the cases, service history of the car at the authorized service station (A.S.S) revealed that the car had undergone repairs of more than a lac!
10. Finding a used car takes time, sometimes months, so start looking early and be patient.
11. Sometimes when you find a decent, well maintained car, from a trustworthy owner, which passes all your TDs and mechanic checks and one which you would really like to own, you should be ready to pay a little premium (5k to 20k depending upon condition)  over the current market price/value, especially if you plan to keep the car for a long time. Such cars are hard to come by and its not worth losing the car for a small amount of money.

These and a lot more tips and caveats have been discussed in the myriad threads of Team-BHP. There is another excellent forum geared towards tips for motoring in India, http://gearheads.in Although I have not frequented this one as much as I have Team-BHP, GearHeads.in has a lot of useful tips and interesting topics to help sort out your motoring queries.

Hope these tips help someone in getting the car of their dreams at just the right price.

Cheers.

- Neel

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Written by Neelesh Mohile

January 24, 2011 at 4:47 pm

33 Responses

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  1. Fantastic information man. Just can’t wait for the next post.

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    July 18, 2014 at 11:04 pm

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    June 18, 2014 at 10:20 pm

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    June 10, 2014 at 10:50 pm

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  7. Very good point. Could not agree with you more.

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  9. Intriguing read. Excellent points, well made.
    I think your are right.

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    June 4, 2014 at 10:39 pm

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    March 13, 2014 at 5:30 am

  12. To buy or sell used cars quickly, best way is to post your listing on car specific classified site like http://www.carsangrah.com.

    anil

    February 12, 2014 at 2:36 pm

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    January 25, 2014 at 5:25 pm

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    January 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm

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    mercedes

    January 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

  17. Hey, cheers for sharing…

    vehicle

    January 16, 2014 at 2:52 am

  18. Something is wrong with carwale.com

    For the alto 800, I saw the following results

    1. The depreciation between a 2013 model and a 2012 model with the same mileage is just 2%
    2. The difference between and dealer price and individual price is just 2%
    3. The difference between a 2012 model with 10000 kms and 20000 kms on it is just 2%.

    Does the small amount of depreciation make any sense to you? It certainly does not for me

    masculineffortsculineffort

    January 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

  19. For buying used cars in india , a free classified website is best option.You can try different websites like olx.in , quikr.com , QByMe.com etc. This provides buyer and seller best platform to find target customer or supplier.

    dipak

    December 23, 2013 at 1:40 pm

  20. Buying a used car can be a great deal — if you play it smart.
    Most three- or four-year-old cars and trucks can be surprisingly reliable, because automakers have done so much to improve the durability of every model. Most three- or four-year-old cars and trucks can be surprisingly reliable, because automakers have done so much to improve the durability of every model.
    But buying used can be an expensive and tragic game of “rush-in” roulette, if you’re too hasty. Here are some useful tips about buying a used automobile.
    http://www.autogolazo.com/smart-tips-on-buying-a-used-car/

    Austin Vincent

    October 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm

  21. Thanks for sharing this blog…valuation of cars is important factor whether it is a new car or old one.for example if you bought a car 5 years back for 5 lakh and now its present resale value is 3 lakh.resale value means market value but how market decide it depends on distance it run,whether the car has met any accident or not and the most importnat factor is its condition…

    oliver smith

    October 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm

  22. Thanks for providing such a useful information. Before buying a second hand car, one should do a test drive, need to check all mandatory documents, available accessories and engine quality are working fine. Second hand cars became demand due to rise in new car models. It saves money and time. So buy used car and feel the comfort in it.

    houston used cars

    Malik Ashar Azeem

    July 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm

  23. It’s going to be ending of mine day, but before ending I am reading this enormous post to increase my experience.

    panoweaver.pl

    July 7, 2013 at 12:18 am

  24. Your past regarding used car is good and i like really. You describe a very good points regarding used car.

    Aziz motors

    May 27, 2013 at 12:26 pm

  25. My name is Anchal Verma
    Yes fantastics tips, Recently I bought a used car from http://www.99localsearch.com and I remember Valuable tips and your website. Your Valuable tips is helpful for me. That time I thought to thank your site and I came back again to comment in your site. You are doing good job without any charge keep it up. Thank you

    Anchal Verma

    December 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm

  26. Thanks for posting! Although I am not looking to buy a used car in India, I thought this information could be helpful in buying a used car for sale in NJ since that is what I am currently in the market for. Great information, thanks again!

    Cecilia

    November 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm

  27. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing
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    very soon!

    szkolenia bhp częstochowa

    October 25, 2012 at 3:31 am

  28. Buying a used car is a great way of cutting the cost of your driving as most new cars lose around 40% of their value in the first year.But there are risks so it’s important to take your time rather than rush into any deal, and to buy as far as possible with your head rather than your heart.

    Jeep dealer MA

    September 10, 2012 at 11:46 am

  29. Thanks for your valuable information. it is helped me a lot in understanding how to buy an used car. I was almost depressed during my search and gave up my intention of buying an used car, but your post gave me some confidence.
    I will work on the points and wait for my search.

    Ajay

    Ajay

    June 3, 2012 at 8:59 am

  30. Used cars market in India is really growing up. Sales of used cars in last year has seen tremendous increase. the websites you mentioned in the post are getting huge audience per day. the only thing require in this field is trust. Most of the buyers sometime hesitate to buy used cars only because they fear about the quality of the car. but, big automotive brands like Mahindra are coming up with a proper solution for such buyers. the brand websites like http://www.mahindrafirstchoice.com offers used cars with more than 118 quality checks done on it. that’s build up trusts in buyers, as they can rely on such brands. I will say it’s good step by the company. It offers buyer to compare the vehicle prices online and they can select the car of their choice.

    Cars in India

    February 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm

  31. I must say, your post was truly amazing, thank you…
    If you need some ways to buy used cars in Europe though I guess you should check this post out…
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sales-drive-webuyanycarcom-up-hsbc-sunday-times-top-track-250-listings-2011-10-19 , I got this link from a spammer actually but I realized after checking it out that the company they are mentioning is really THE good deal to consider when buying a car…
    I hope it’ll be helpful for you too.

    Valeria

    November 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm


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