Tips On Buying Second-Hand Vehicles

Mr Moyo - Happy with his purchase - kitweonline

Mr Moyo - Happy with his purchase - kitweonline

Kitwe has now got a “Chisokone Market For Vehicles”, and it is much easier to buy a wider range of second-hand vehicles than before. It is also relatively easy to buy from abroad.

If you are planning to buy a vehicle, it is worth spending some time ensuring that you have gone through some helpful hints on how to avoid a lemon.Whether you are buying a second-hand car or a second-hand truck, certain general principles apply.

Buying second-hand vehicles can be a cost-effective way of getting into the vehicles market because their  value  drops dramatically when they have been used. With patience, it is possible to get a good bargain.

Compare prices from different sources

The best scenario is if you can test the vehicle yourself. Second best is to have someone test it for you.

Initial Investigation

  • Make Of Vehicle
    • Compare the Make of vehicle you are going for to the other makes on the market. Has the maker got a good reputation?
    • Ensure the vehicle has the relevant documentation
    • Compare chassis numbers on the vehicle and on the documents

Vehicle Examination: Static Tests ( before you start the engine):

  • Body work
    • Examine the vehicle under good lighting conditions
    • Look for rust on body work and under surface of the vehicle. This will include the edges of doors, bonnet and tail gate.
    • Blistering of the paint work may be an indication of serious rusting
    • Walk around the vehicle and observe for symmetry and irregular surfaces which may indicate repaired areas
    • Look for signs of recent welding under the vehicle and inside the cabin
    • Water staining inside water tight compartments, like the cabin, will be a sign of leakages
    • Chassis
      • It is worth asking a direct question on whether the vehicle has had any specific problems or accidents.
      • Collision damage may be detectable as irregularities to the chassis, and under the bonnet
      • Check the odometer reading and inquire whether this is not tampered with
      • Under the bonnet
        • If the engine is too dirty there is a chance the vehicle has not been well maintained
        • An oily engine block could be a sign of leaks from seals on the block
        • If the engine block is too clean it may be a sign of recent wash to hide an oil leak
        • Examine the oil dip stick
          • Black oil could be a sign of regular servicing or of a recent oil change
          • Frothy light colour of oil could be a sign of head gasket damage
  • Check the colour of the coolant(rusty colour is a bad sign of possible damage)
  • Transmission
    • Check that the hoses are in good shape, are not chipped or leaking
    • Examine the exhaust deposit
    • Tyres
      • Look out for uneven tyre wear. This could indicate wheel alignment or balancing problems
      • Check that the sides of the tyres are not cracked or ballooning
      • Suspension
        • Check there are no leaks from the dampers or struts
        • Note how smoothly the vehicle goes over rough patches in the road
Toyota Hilux - kitweonline

Toyota Hilux - kitweonline

Kinetic Tests (After starting up the engine)

  • Check that the warning lights come on and then go off
  • Listen for knocking noises from the engine
  • Rev the engine and check the colour of the smoke coming from the exhaust
  1. Blue smoke is a sign of a worn out engine with oil leaking into the combustion chambers
  2. Black smoke indicates inefficient burning of the fuel (various causes)
  • Check the transmission:
  1. Check the smoothness of the gears and check there is no gear slip when driving up a hill in high gear
  2. Check how well the gears change down (synchromesh)
  3. Look for smooth acceleration
  4. Check the transmission oil dip stick while the engine is hot
  • Cooling System
  1. Run the engine and observe for sharp increase in engine temperature
  • Steering
  1. There should be no free play when you turn the steering
  2. There should be no delay when you turn the steering wheel, before the tyres turn
  • Other Moving Parts
  1. Test the other moving parts, eg. Tipping gear on a tipper truck

Be on the look out for non-specific signs of something not being right, eg. brand new parts fitted to an old vehicle. What’s the story? Traces of spray paint in unexpected places may indicate a repair job.

When you have finally made your mind up and you have taken delivery of your vehicle, it is worth investing in a full service to ensure that your filters, electrics and other vital parts are in good working order.

Whichever route you take to purchase your vehicle, KitweOnLine wishes you happy shopping. Feel free to share your experiences, good or bad, with us. Write in the box below.

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