The last article emphasizing on how to SELL a car online (Common Mistakes In Selling Cars On Pakwheels) might have given the impression to many of you that selling a car online is the toughest deal. Well, you’re wrong. Buckle up, because buying a car might be a bumpy ride which can easily end in a big fail, leaving you with no cash and a clumsy piece of metal no one would like to have a look at.
As mentioned in the previous post, hypocrisy rules. We as buyers and sellers are two absolutely different species of human beings – as buyers, we want the cheapest deal on the best car available, and leave no leaf unturned to intimidate the owner and dis his car by pointing out how unlikeable his car is – we state all the faults which may possibly arise in any mechanical equipment, we become economists forecasting how the prices of cars will drop to half in the next week when the import opens, we frighten him with the cons of a Gujranwala registered car and keep insisting that this particular model was a big fail. However, if we’re selling the same car we take a 180 degrees turn, a total character makeover, as if the lightening of wisdom has suddenly struck us and changed our views.
This post is to address the car buying tips which may prevent many of us from going for the wrong car.
1- Decide the type of vehicle you want to buy
Only you know of your needs, and no one else can decide on your behalf which car is good for you. Consider your lifestyle, and choose the type of vehicle which fulfills your needs and would not put a big dent on your pocket whether it is buying or maintaining.
2- Know your budget
Be honest to yourself. Keep a definite upper slab in your mind. Make sure that figure is excluding the money you will ‘try to arrange’ if you find an awesome deal – good cars cost more, but there are good cars in every budget frame. For a start, just know how much is your maximum ability to spend.
3- Decide the specific brand and make
Although keeping wider option range seems better, but in practical world, it just confuses you. Decide exactly which Make, Model and Year you would like to buy, and stick to it. Keep resale value and maintenance in the equation as well.
4- Take test drive
We have close knit families in Pakistan, and friends tend to trust each other, in fact, our average man has bigger social circle than most western celebrities(look at our huge weddings). If you want to buy a 2005 Civic VTi, try finding one in your friends and family circle. Drive it before you reach a decision. Let it not be just based on a couple of friends who have always told you how ”cool” and ”fast” the Civic 2005 is. It is ”cool” and ”fast”, but it might be different from what you’re looking in a car – the ride might be bumpy, the steering might be hard, in short, you may end up realizing that you’re more into softer drives like Corolla and City.
5- Learn to read advertisements
A good car’s advertisement will be simple, to the point, with photos from all angles. If all the seller emphasizes on “Registration number in which digits add to lucky number 7”, the odds are that its the best thing in that car – probably the only one too.
People claim cars to be one piece touch up, 14,000 kilometers driven, etc etc. Unfortunately with our mindset, all these are words and numbers – the reality, usually, is quite the opposite. So don’t let the numbers intimidate you – you’ll only know the truth when you see the car in person.
6- Shortlist the potential candidates
Now that you know your purchasing power, the make and model you want to buy and know how to read advertisements, take a pen and a paper and make a list of the cars you want to go and check. Call right away to check the availability.
7- Beware of cars who have not been sold for more than 2 weeks
A reasonably priced good car gets sold in the first couple of days, if not hours, unless the car you’re looking for is not one of the mainstream cars. There are people sitting online 24/7 who refresh the used cars for sale page every 10 minutes to see the updated list. And if the car hasn’t been sold for a long time, it either has issues, or the price isn’t reasonable, or the owner. Keep that in consideration.
8- Filter the hobbyists
There are always a few cars uploaded on every website with no serious intention of selling. They upload the car thinking ”Oh, if I make some profit, I’ll sell it, otherwise I won’t”. Stay clear of them. A serious seller will be more flexible in his dealings and wouldn’t brush off a good offer for 5-10 thousand rupees.
9- Check the car thoroughly
Take a dealer friend and a trustworthy mechanic with you. Check the car thoroughly – don’t rush, you’re a potential buyer and you have a right to check what you’re planning to buy. Many sellers wear a fake attitude to prevent buyers from asking many questions – don’t fall for that, he’s not going to give it you any cheaper if you ask lesser question, trust me.
What and how to inspect a car, read this informative piece (The Endeavor Of Buying Car In Pakistan) by Baber K. Khan.
10- Be Patient
This is unarguably the most important thing. Be very patient in your search. Otherwise you can end up without your money, and with a car which isn’t possible to sell quickly. You’ll be spending more on repairs to make it atleast drive worthy while you have it, but a bad car is like an upside down as well – never fills up no matter how much money you pour in.
Good cars are hard to come by. On average, one good car in every segment comes up for sale every week. Excellent cars are twice as hard to come by. You’re lucky if you grab the first chance, but it is very normal to miss a few to realize the situation. Spending a couple of months is pretty normal in finding an excellent car, but trust me, once you find it, it will bring a smile on your face every time you turn it on.
11- Good cars are overpriced. Bad cars are under-priced.
You know the Make and Model of the car you’re planning to buy, you should know the market price for such a vehicle. An excellent car may be upto 10 percent more expensive than the market price, and a car with issues can be up to 20 percent cheaper than the market price.
Example : A 2000 Civic VTi Oriel : Average market price 750,000 Rs.
An under 100k driven car, 90-100 % in genuine paint, explicitly clean, single owner, petrol driven, no work required may be priced at 850,000 and he might just bargain only 25,000.
On the other hand, a 200k driven, roof showered/repainted, front patti repainted, duplicate registration book, Karachi registered car in Lahore or vice versa may be up for sale at as low as 550,000 Rs.
12- Visit the showrooms.
Dealers have a very specific profit margin – about 15k for cars under 500,000, 25-30k for cars between 500,000 and 1 Million and so on. Hence the price idea you may get from the real market will be more accurate than what you’ll see online.
That is it – you’re ready to go and buy a car for yourself. However there are a few more facts/warnings I’ll mention in no specific order before closing which may help you in fine tuning your decision and buying a good car.
- Bad resale doesn’t only mean lesser value : it also means that you won’t be able to sell that car off very quickly if you need to, even for a lesser money.
- Duplicate Books have theoretically nothing wrong with them – they’re as good as the original ones. It is a dealer created phenomenon by which having a duplicate book is a big disadvantage. However, since you’ll be selling your car later in a dealer oriented market, this fact can’t be ignored.
- There are very few people who would want to buy a car with duplicate book, even at a lower price.
- If a dealer says ”buy it for 300,000, if you ever want to sell it for 300,000, come to me and I’ll buy it off you” – don’t let that act as a factor in reaching a decision. Its a common dealer phrase. Later if you do that, he’ll ask you to park your car at his showroom, and wait for a couple of weeks for you to loose patience telling ”market is very slow nowadays”, and then call you once in a while saying things like ”there’s a party offering 240,000, I told them its not a possibility, but they’re asking me to ask the owner”.
- 80% of the times when you’ll visit a showroom and inspect a specific vehicle, another ‘party’ will come and start showing interest in the same vehicle. Don’t let that alter your decision as well – the chances are that you’ll find those faces in the neighboring showrooms on your way back.
- In Mehran/Alto/Cultus – its the genuineness of the body and the model year which majorly decide the price tag. Rest is all cheaply repairable. So if you’re getting one in a very good price with a few minor suspension noises, its OK to buy it considering the body and model year.
- Corolla xli’s don’t loose their market value unless there are serious issues with the car. Everything is easily repairable, so don’t miss a great car with a few noises.
- NEVER buy a Civic with faulty suspensions, removed thermostat valve, direct fan, or repaired engine. In fact, Civic is the only car in local market which doesn’t loose a lot of money if the engine is swapped and incorporated on the book : everyone knows its simpler and more productive to swap an engine than trying to repair the old one.
- Check the documents several times. With the number of NCP cars rolling on our streets, you don’t want to end up with something which may send you behind bars.
- Take the delivery as soon as you can – if possible, try closing the deal on the same day. After you’ve paid the token money, there can be nothing removed/replaced/altered in it, ethically or legally. Unfortunately, I’ve seen even floor mats being replaced with cheaper ones and sensors replaced by faulty sensors overnight.