Buying A Used Car In India: A Complete Guide

Image showing used cars
By - Sahaj Palla
July 9, 2021

Buying a car in India is a basic necessity for some, a status symbol for the more indulgent, but a dream come true for most of us Indians. Whatever the reason may be, a car is an important part of Indian households. But buying a car is a major financial decision, which involves a great deal of savings and foresight. The concept of buying used cars started taking ground in recent years when people realised that used cars can be as good as new cars. However, many of us still refrain from the idea as it involves tons of research and a substantial amount of risk. With the advent of online used car platforms, things have become easier for the common Indian.

Why Should You Buy A Used Car?

How reliable are used cars? The answer lies primarily with online used car dealers. Unlike offline used car dealers whose sole aim is to close a quick deal, online car dealers such as Spinny make it a point to go the extra distance and check a car intensively before putting it up for sale. They also offer warranties and guarantees should the car run into any post-sale troubles. Combined with trust and reliability, Indian online used car platforms are fast becoming used car buyers’ go-to source for buying used cars.

Buying Used Cars

The question that pops up in every used car buyer’s head, and the answer to this question lies in many parts. Let us break them down for you.

> Affordability

> Lower Depreciation Rate

> Lower Insurance Premiums

> They Are Warranted

> Great Quality Cars

Why Are Used Cars Affordable?

Used cars are affordable because they’ve been through depreciation and enough time on the roads to bring down their value considerably. While affordability is often seen synonymous with doubtful quality, any such doubts can be laid to rest by buying certified pre-owned cars from trusted vendors. Take Spinny for example. Spinny Assured cars undergo a very stringent 200-point evaluation, before being offered to prospective buyers.

Lower Depreciation Rate

This is the main reason why used cars cost less. Let us first explain what depreciation is. Depreciation rate is the loss of value of assets one owns, in this case a car. The rate of depreciation depends on a number of factors but the primary cause that brings the value of a car down is its wear and tear, or its mileage. The higher the mileage, the higher the depreciation rate. And for a new car this means an average 15-30% loss of value after just a year. Used cars, on the other hand, have already been through the high depreciation phase, which means there won’t be a significant loss of value once you try to sell it.

Lower Insurance Premiums

The Insured Declared Value (IDV) of a car is inversely proportional to its age, which means a newer car will have a higher insurance premium compared to an older one. A new car it of higher perceived value, leading to higher insurance costs. But once it starts clocking miles its perceived value starts to come down, due to a myriad of factors, which is why the insurance premium also comes down.

They Are Warranted

Similar to their newer counterparts, used cars from certified dealers such as Spinny come with limited warranties, which can give the customer a sense of security when buying a used car.

Great Quality Cars

Nowadays, there is nothing ‘used’ about a used car. This is because certified dealers take great care in making sure that used cars match the appearance, the durability and the mechanical standards of a new car, thus ensuring high customer satisfaction.

Certified Vs Non-Certified Used Cars

Buy Used Cars

These are the two mighty contenders grappling in the used car market space. Certified used cars are a recent phenomenon while non-certified players have been in the market for quite a time.

What is the difference between the two?

A non-certified seller can be anyone. It can be your neighbour trying to sell their used car, an offline car dealer, your friends, relatives, and so on. In short, non-certified sellers are private sellers who don’t offer any certification for the vehicle they sell. No certification means there won’t be any way you would be able to tell what the car has been through, whether it has had an accident, whether the meter has been tampered with, and if the service details mentioned are true or not. However, you might be able to get the car for the best price if you are directly buying from the seller, eliminating the middlemen, but this might not be the case with offline dealerships.

Certified used car dealers, on the other hand, are quite transparent. They only offer cars that pass their quality tests. A certified used car comes with all the relevant details a buyer looks for, right from the car’s service history to the physical quality. On the flip side, these might cost more than non-certified cars, but you also get peace of mind with the warranty and guarantee that come along with them.

Buying A Used Car

Made your decision? Let us tell you about the important steps you should keep in mind while buying a used car.

Selecting The Car

A very crucial aspect of buying a car, is car selection. It would be wise and pocket-friendly to buy a car that suits your lifestyle and needs. For example – a big SUV may not be the most apt choice for your daily commute if you are single. A compact sedan for a family of 6 that’s fond of those long drives isn’t the best choice, either.

Much like buying a new car, a thorough study of your needs should be done well in advance when buying a used car.

Explore All Buying Locations

After narrowing down on a car of your liking, it is the time to go and see the car for real. There are many options when it comes to buying used cars: it could be directly from the owner, used car dealers, and many others who provide the service of buying used cars. When you see a car that you like, don’t hesitate to ask questions! Ask the seller the reasons for selling it and how it was used, inquire whether the vehicle was involved in an accident, and many more. The more questions you ask, the better are your chances of getting a good used car.

Here are places where you can hunt for a used car:

Directly From The Owner

The chances of getting a good bargain are pretty high in this zone, as you eliminate the brokers and speak directly to the owner. But it is a very cumbersome method and requires a lot of time and patience — and a trusted mechanic. You should not expect the owner to tell you everything about the car, and that’s where the mechanic comes in handy. You can ask for the service book to ascertain the service history of the car. One more thing. Buying a car directly from the owner doesn’t come with any service warranty.

Neighbourhood Pre-owned Dealer

Okay, so these used car dealers are quite a convenience. This option allows you to inspect a line of cars, all in one place. However, this doesn’t mean that these cars are risk-free; there is a chance that the odometer might’ve been tampered with or the documents forged. It would be better to ask your mechanic to have a good look at the car, inside and outside. Second, these cars will cost more than what you would be paying if you go to the original seller directly. Make sure that the dealer is not the owner of the car; otherwise, it becomes a third-hand car, and this affects the market value of the car further.

OEM Brand Owned Used Cars

With so many used car dealers in the market, how do you know which one is most reliable? OEMs without a doubt. OEMS, or original equipment manufacturers, are car brands that have got their own used car dealership. These are the most reliable of the lot and you can rest assured that any car you buy from here will be the best. Moreover, they provide warranties and guarantees on the cars they sell, giving you peace of mind about the quality you get. Some of the well-known OEM used car dealers are – Maruti Suzuki True Value, Mahindra First Choice, Hyundai First Advantage, Premium Selection by BMW, Mercedes’s Proven Exclusivity, and many more. The down part, however, is that these cars would be far costlier than other options in the market.

Online Classifieds

Sites like OLX and Quikr come under this category. They are time-saving and at the click of a button or a tap on the screen, you have a number of used car options in front of you. The portals do make life easy, but one cannot rely completely on the information displayed as this could be false as well. You will still have to go to the car check it out thoroughly and then come to a decision.

Online Used Car Retailers

Just like traditional e-commerce platforms, the online used cars retailers have an end-to-end managed system that requires negligible involvement of the customer. The advantage of these retailers is that like OEMs, they are completely reliable, transparent, and trustworthy. But unlike them, they don’t cost as much. Cars you buy from these sources have reliable quality checks, affordable prices, warranties, and guarantees in place to keep you secure and peaceful if any problems arise. One such example is Spinny. Spinny Cars are not only reliable, but they also give you the guarantee of a full refund upon returning the car within 5 days if you somehow do not like it. In addition to this, their BuyBack feature guarantees a pre-fixed value of your car for up to 18 months, if you want to return or exchange the car. Online used car retailers have got everything under one roof, which means that even if you want to finance your car it can be done there and you won’t have to look elsewhere for a loan. The downside of such places is that they are available only in select locations.

Testing The Car

Okay, so you’ve found a used car that you like and want to try it out. In all its actuality, a test drive is simply not just a test of the engine or the way a car drives. By taking a test drive your senses perceive what all you need and what all the car offers. Let us guide you through the finer points of taking a test drive.

  • A test drive should be long enough to tell you about the working condition of a vehicle, insist on driving for at least 5 kms through various types of roads to understand the car and your comfort.
  • The car should start instantly and there shouldn’t be any strange noises apart from the hum of the engine.
  • Gears should shift smoothly and upon releasing the clutch the vehicle should move forward without jerks. 
  • The steering should not vibrate. If it does then there is a major problem.
  • The brakes should also slow down proportionally to the force applied to them and this should happen in a straight line, the car shouldn’t move sideways. If it does then the car has a major braking issue.
  • Lastly, check for oil leaks from the engine and the gearbox. Park the vehicle on clean ground and check if anything has leaked or not. If it has then there are issues that need to be looked into.

Do A Pre-Purchase Inspection Of The Car

Alright, so now you know you like the car, it drives well and has passed your test drive expectations. The next step would be to do a short inspection before purchasing the car. Here’s how you go ahead.

  • Check the relevant car documents such as the registration, insurance, pollution certificate, road tax clearance, and loan clearance. 
  • Check the meter reading: a 5-year-old car with a run of 30,000 – 40,000 kms is the best vehicle to own.
  • Check the body: there shouldn’t be rust anywhere. If there is, then it would be wise to call the deal off.
  • Start the engine and check the exhaust: there shouldn’t be emission of blue or black smoke upon acceleration nor should there be oil spouts on the exhaust.
  • The tyres should be in top condition; if they aren’t, then you’ve got scope for a bargain.
  • The wheels should be properly aligned: at speeds of 10-20 km on a vacant stretch of land, if you leave the steering wheel, the car should move in a straight line. If it goes sideways, the alignment is haywire.
  • The suspension should provide a noise-free and comfortable ride: Give an eye to the shockers, suspension springs, and bushings, there should be no leaks.
  • Check the battery and signs of acidic wear and tear near it. If the battery is close to expiry and is ill-maintained, you can bargain more.
  • Check whether the AC is working properly or not. Cooling should be gradual and upon an increase in levels, the cooling should also increase. Drive the car up on the slope to check the efficiency of the cooling system.
  • Check all the lights, dippers, hazards, indicators, brake lights, headlamps, and reverse lights. They all should be in top working condition. Electrical components like OVRMs, electric rearview mirrors, and the music system should function properly.

Do A Thorough Document Check

Check documents when buying a used car

Documents are what make the car yours, make sure that you’ve laid hands on all the relevant documents listed below before you sign the deal.

  • Registration Certificate: This document proves that you are buying a car from a registered buyer and it is not a fake or a bogus purchase. That being said, you should always inquire about the veracity of the RC. The engine and chassis no. on the RC should match with those on the vehicle. 
  • Insurance: The insurance can tell a lot about the vehicle and you can check it for past accident claims. This is a very important document for transferring ownership.
  • Pollution Certificate: The PUC or pollution under control certificate is required for ascertaining the fitness of a car and is required in ownership transfer.
  • Road Tax: Although the road tax is cleared during the time of purchase, if in any case it hasn’t been cleared on the used car, you can bargain for the price.
  • No Objection Certificate: Issued by the finance company, this certificate states that all payments towards the loan have been cleared and the financier has no claim on the car.

Explore All Payment Options

How to Buy Pre Owned Cars in India

✔Test drive taken 

✔Vehicle checked

✔Documents checked

So, you’ve checked everything and want to buy the car through a loan. Let us help you out.

With used cars you will have to consider the high interest rates that banks and NBFCs offer, but you can compare them and choose the one that suits your budget the most. Good upfront payment can ensure lower interest rates which would be easier for you in the long run. Buying from online dealerships has perks of its own as they provide assistance in availing loans for your used car purchase.

Transfer Of Ownership Documents

Congratulations! You’ve made the payment and are looking forward to getting the documents transferred in your name which would make you the whole and sole owner of the car. There are a few documents you would require to see it through.

  1. The original registration certificate (RC) is required to be submitted to the RTO. If the car was purchased by a loan then a NOC along with form no. 35 would be required to be submitted to the RTO to confirm that the financier has no claim on the car. NOCs are usually valid 60 days from the date of issue.
  2. Sale transfer form nos. 29 and 30 from the RTO need to be signed by both the buyer and seller in duplicates.
  3. Vehicle chassis number imprint.
  4. Notarised insurance papers, along with identity and address proof of both the seller and buyer. An affidavit may be required if the seller’s address doesn’t match with the proof of identity.
  5. Notarised copy of your PAN card or form 60.

The Spinny Advantage

Buying a used car can appear to be daunting at first glance but it is simplified with Spinny. Spinny is a full-stack pre-owned car retailing platform that removes the middleman while delivering more value and convenience to you.

Spinny features more than 5,000 certified used cars to choose from, which have been evaluated on 200 points to ensure that you choose from the best used cars in your city. Prospective buyers can search their desired car online, review the detailed report and images of the car, and get to know the car even before test driving it. Every Spinny Assured car comes with Fixed Price Assurance, which ensures you receive the best price for the car without the need for negotiation.

The test drive experience has also been made convenient as Spinny brings the test drive experience to your home. You can test drive your desired car in a familiar environment, getting a better idea of how the car will fit in your life. For further convenience, Spinny also delivers your car right to your doorstep, for an unrivalled car buying experience.

Active in 18 cities and serving 200,000+ satisfied customers, Spinny aims to make good quality cars affordable for everyone.


28 thoughts on “Buying A Used Car In India: A Complete Guide”

  1. This is a perfect and full of information guide for used car buyers like me. These provided checks are important to check before buying a used car. Specially thank you for the documents list. Nice article!!


    Hello there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally
    suggest to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this web site.

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