Precautions While Buying A Used Car

By - Sahaj Palla
July 17, 2021

Decided to buy a used car? Well, you are not the only one, millions of Indians are now opting for used cars and if we look at statistics the last two years have seen a surge in the used car market as more and more people are now opting for private transport. Whatever your reason be, we want you to know that you’ve made the right choice.

However, in the market, not everything is what it seems to be and you should always have a vigilant eye to spot which car seller is a fraud and which is not. On those lines we want you to be apprised of a few precautions that you should undertake when buying a used car.

Let a car mechanic accompany you

Unless you are an expert evaluator yourself, it would be wise to take an experienced car mechanic with you to know the nitty-gritty details of the vehicle. Although you might have to pay him for his services, it would be better than buying the wrong car and feeling remorseful afterward.

Check the car thoroughly

Do not rely on what the seller claims about the vehicle, check the car for yourself. You can let go of minor scratches and dents but be wary of the bigger ones, vehicles with body rust are a big no. Check for paint texture differences. These will help you understand the situation the car might’ve been in. Also, keep an eye out for the electricals, everything should be in working condition, if anything is out of place, bargain. The tyres should be in good condition, if they’re balding, you should be able to save more money.

Test Drive

A very important aspect of buying a car is the test drive. Starting the car should be a very smooth process. There shouldn’t be any untoward noises, hop out of the car with the engine running and open the bonnet to check weird noises. Check the tailpipe, there shouldn’t be any smoke or oil spouts.

Gear shifting should be effortless, you should not apply any extra pressure on the stick. Engage the clutch and when you release it, the vehicle should move forward in a gentle manner without jerks or vibrations.

Take the car out for a ride, feel the suspension, no squeaking or odd vibrations should be felt. Another way to test the suspension is to tackle corners with a little more speed than you usually drive at. Sharp turns put the suspension into action and if you feel anything is out of place, take the call.

Document verification

Check documents when buying a used car

So, the car is good, but don’t move ahead until you’ve verified the documents and the information on them. A few pointers:

  • Registration Certificate is a crucial document that confirms the legality of the vehicle and ownership. Make sure that the certificate is not a duplicate one  – Duplicate Registration Certificate. If you are buying from a dealer check if the RC has the name of the dealer, this would mean that you would be the third buyer, which should not be the case as the market value will be low for a third-hand car.
  • VIN and Engine no. should be the same everywhere i.e., on the Registration Certificate and the car. A few places where you can find the VIN no.
  • Insurance is another important vehicle document without which a car cannot ply on the roads. Make sure that the insurance is also transferred in your name and has a validity of at least three weeks post purchase. If it doesn’t you can bargain and buy new insurance which is much more beneficial.
  • A vehicle service book tells a lot about the car, for example if the servicings are consistent then you know that the car was cared for and maintained to the highest standards. But, on the flip side it can be forged as well. If it is too good to be true then maybe it is not true. Be sure to ask as many questions to the owner. Like the dents and major scratches.
  • Road tax certificate is another important document that certifies that no taxes are due. Although it is a one time payment that is paid at the time of purchase of the car. In any case if it isn’t, there is something fishy.
  • Pollution under control certificate shows the emission levels of the car, via which you can ascertain the condition the engine is in.
  • A Loan NOC is something that you should be aware of in case the vehicle was purchased on a loan, this confirms that all loan dues have been paid and the financier has no claim on the vehicle.

Odometer tampering

Image showing car thief tampering odometer readings with a laptop.

Odometer tampering is what you should look out for, digital or analog both odometers can be tampered with and made to look like the car has run lesser kilometers than it actually has. On an analog meter look for marks or scratches on the digits, their alignment, while this would be difficult on a digital meter, you can still look for fingerprints or smudges on the inside of the plastic. However, these are not sure shot ways to detect tampering and this is where the service book comes in handy. You can always call the service center and get to know the details of the last service or look out for stickers on the car where upcoming service details are mentioned.

Vehicle modifications

Many people opt for vehicle modifications to make their car look a certain way, and any part of the vehicle can be modified, that is, as long as it is legal. Certain changes like car color, engine tweaking are illegal. So are installation of tyres bigger than what the manufacturer recommends.

Here’s a list of car modifications that are considered illegal in India.

  • Fancy number plates
  • Loud exhausts
  • Roof modifications
  • Engine mods
  • Wide tyres
  • Body lifting kits
  • Car color

Make sure that the car you are going to buy doesn’t have the above modifications, if it has then it would be best to look out for another vehicle.

Get an idea of the price online

Image depicting a search for a used car online

Before you go out hunting for a used car, select the car that you think is the right choice for you, this includes the no. of kilometers it has run and its age. Check these details online to get an idea of the price, compare it, and bargain accordingly.

Know when to pay

Illustration showing exchange of money for a car.

At times delay is not denial, this also holds true when you buy a car. Take into account all your options, go through them again and again, and make the decision only when you deem it is right.

If all of this overwhelms you and makes you think twice about buying a used car, don’t give up as we have got a better alternative for you, Spinny.

The Spinny Advantage

Image showing Spinny's fixed price assurance

Buying a used car on Spinny is the easiest thing and the most hassle-free thing you will ever do. Spinny cars undergo strict quality control which comprises 200 check points and includes thorough checking of the car. The process is so stringent that only 1 in 20 cars make it to Spinny car hubs.

But the question here is that how do you know what we tell is true? The answer is the quality of the cars we choose. We trust our cars to the extent that if after buying you feel that the car is not up to the mark, you can return it to us within 5 days and get a no-questions-asked 100% refund.

Apart from the above, Spinny also gives a Buyback guarantee on its cars, meaning that for up to 18 months you can return or exchange the car for a pre-fixed value.

Too good to be true? Try it and believe it.


Why should I take a mechanic to buy a used car?

If you are an expert on cars then there is no need for a mechanic to accompany you. But if that is not the case then it would be a wise idea to take one as the mechanic’s experience with cars will help you in choosing the right one for yourself.

When should I make the purchase of the car?

Only when you are completely sure. Documents should be in mint condition, the car should pass all the boxes in your checklist and you should have your finances prepped and ready.

Why are car modifications considered illegal?

Not all car mods are illegal, but those that put the life of the car occupant and pedestrian in danger are. Other mods like changing the car color can also signify that the vehicle is a stolen one, hence illegal.

What documents to check for when buying a used car?

Verify the below given documents when buying a used car:

  • Registration Certificate
  • Insurance Documents
  • Pollution Under Control Certificate
  • Service History Book
  • Road Tax Certificate
  • Loan NOC

Why are odometers tampered with?

To hide the no. of kilometers the car has actually run and mislead the buyer into thinking that the car is a good buy. It is not a good idea to tamper with the meter as buyers have become smart and will come to know through service history records and tell-tale signs of tampering.

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