How to buy a second-hand car | Inquirer Business

How to buy a second-hand car

Like couture, there are many advantages in buying things second hand. There’s your contribution to the environment (lessens the carbon footprint of producing the same item) and of course the cost. It goes the same with cars. There is always a premium of buying something brand-new.  The moment you drive off the dealership your car depreciates about 20 percent of its purchase price. Although some people feel strongly about having first dibs on items or being the first to have the latest model, buying a used car certainly has its advantages. Buying a new car is like buying in the boutique for the latest season’s offering while a used car is like buying in an outlet store, where prices are slashed but it’s a few seasons old.

There is a lot of apprehension for women in buying second hand. We don’t really have the sixth sense of knowing which one is a good buy. Our talent for a bargain does not manifest on the used-car lot unlike the first days of the Zara or Rustan’s sale, where we can buy without trying on. Well the good news is when buying a used car you can indeed try it on. Here are some items you have to look for.



Like a boyfriend, more mileage means more issues; the more ex-girlfriends, the more girls to fight about. Like any machine, there’s a lot of wear and tear that can happen with extensive usage. A car with 20,000 km will probably run for about 25 percent less than brand-new.  Check the steering wheel and the pedals to see if the extent of use matches the mileage. If the odometer says a couple of thousand miles, while these two items looked like it was used since the shoulder pads was an in thing, there’s a big chance that your odometer was tampered with.


Signs of damage

Damaged goods always have baggage. For cars, this will be the cause of a lot of heartache and money lost for repairs. Inspect the car for any discolorations or overspray of paint colors. Open the doors and see if there is a discrepancy on the outside and inside color. Inspect if the color shades are the same all throughout the car. Another telltale sign is the license plate. See if there are dents or signs that it was crumpled and straightened out. Ask if there was a change of plate number and why. Also check the lock of the trunk, see if the mechanism is working properly and if not ask why. Usually when you are rear ended, and the trunk lid was not damaged, they will only change the bumpers, the misalignment of the latch can be the end result.

Behavior when things get bumpy

Like any relationship, before the commitment, comes the test drive; when you test-drive a used car, you need to see how it rides in a bumpy situation. Find a regular hump where you can drive the car a little faster than usual. Make sure it’s a hump that is big enough to activate the shocks of the vehicles and small enough not to speed bump the car into the air. This exercise will show if there are some loose joints or clanking noise. Check also all the gears (MT) and modes (AT) to make sure there are no warning lights setting off. Check also the windows, side mirrors, switches, etc.


After you have done your test drive, check under the vehicle if there is some form of liquid leaking. If its water, it may just be the air conditioner or possibly a leak from the radiator. If it is from the radiator, then the vehicle may be prone to overheating. If there are oil leaks, then this is more serious and sets off a red flag for purchasing as well.

Where they go for repair


Cars bought first hand from the dealership usually have a repair record with the dealership. There you can see what kind of repair and maintenance is done. A car that is maintained in the dealership has an advantage that there is no replacement or non-endorsed parts on the vehicle, which can sometimes be a cause of a problem later on.

Check for ‘red flags’

Ask for a copy of the OR and CR. You can either text Traffic Management Group (TMG number: 2600) to see if this car is clean or a stolen one.  You can also check if this car is a recovered car, which usually results in a change of plates. Check if the chassis and engine number match the records as well.

Where the cars are

Some good places to scout for cars are your Sunday classified ads, and Although it may seem convenient to go to the used-car lot, you need to be extra-stringent in screening the vehicles.  Usually before they display the vehicles, they do some detailing and repairs that can mask problems about the vehicle, make sure you ask what kinds of repair were made to the vehicle beforehand.

Also good second-hand vehicles are the manufacturer-guaranteed pre-owned vehicles. Most of the manufacturers have pre-owned vehicle programs. Although the price is a little higher than your usual straight to owner transaction, you would have the peace of mind that the manufacturer has checked the units to be in good condition before it was traded in.

Shop around

Make sure you know the going rate of that particular year model car.   Call a couple of similar vehicles and see how much people are willing to sell the unit. Go to the local dealership and see if they have the same year model vehicle and ask for the price.

Be prepared for some refurbishing

Accept that whatever vehicle you buy, you would need to do some work on it, whether it’s an extensive check-up, tune-up or change of brake pads.  You would need to shell out money to make sure it runs in tiptop shape.  This will also help you diagnose problems or parts that need to be replaced that if left unchecked will cause a bigger problem later on.

Consider the resale value

There are some car brands that have very low resale value. This makes them a good candidate for buying them second hand. Cost of repair, gas consumption, availability of parts, demand and brand usually dictate resale value. Brands like Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi have good resale value due to their extensive network and having the longest relationship with the Filipino consumers. Expect to pay more for these vehicles.  Relatively new brands such as Hyundai, Ford and Subaru are catching up in terms of brand values; they are good candidates to consider as well.

Buying used premium cars

High-end luxury cars, on the other hand, offer some sort of balancing factors. You can usually buy at a better deal, but will be leveled later on with expensive maintenance and repair.

In the end, you must consider how much work the car is in for. If you would be working the vehicle to the ground like a slave master, try to go for brands that are known to be reliable workhorses. But if it’s just going to and from the office, which is about 30 minutes to one hour away, you can include styling and form as part of the requirements. Used cars can be your best friend as long as you know how to mix style, functionality and cut throat bargaining.

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TAGS: auto, buying car, cars, second-hand car
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