Due to the exorbitant prices of brand-new cars, which are far beyond what most Nigerians can afford, there is constantly high demand for used cars in the country. “Tokunbo” or second-hand cars are far cheaper than brand-new ones, and they usually come in good condition.
Now, buying a used car isn’t always as rosy as you might think, and it always comes with some amount of risk. But if you know where to go and what to look for, you can get a good used car in Nigeria that would surpass your expectations.
Your first step toward buying a used car in Nigeria is to figure out the current prices of your preferred car models. So, we decided to start by serving you that, so you can draw up your budget realistically.
Current Prices of Used Cars in Nigeria — Tokunbo & Fairly Used
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Buying a Used Car in Nigeria: Additional Considerations
The process of buying a used car isn’t as straightforward as that of a brand-new one. You cannot just walk into a car lot and blindly make a purchase without running into problems down the line. So, to get a really good car, you must be ready to do the required homework. Now, read on to learn more.
1. Set your budget
One of the easiest ways to save yourself from regrets and confusion when buying a used car is to set your budget and adhere strictly to it. That way, you’d be able to avoid overspending and limit your options to vehicles that are well within your budget.
Note that there is more to the total cost of a used vehicle than the purchase price. After taking it out of the lot, you will have to spend on additional fixes here and there, such as replacing the old tires with new ones, servicing the engine, replacing the transmission fluid, changing the brake pads, doing some bodywork, etc. So, you need to set aside enough cash for these as well. You can’t escape these additional expenses unless you’re buying a car that was used for a very short period.
2. Decide on brands and models
The automobile market comprises vehicle models by several different brands, and making a choice from the pack can be quite challenging. In Nigeria, however, people tend to favor brands like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, and Lexus over other brands. And when it comes to specific models the most popular ones in Nigeria include the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Toyota RAV4, Honda Accord, Lexus RX350, and Toyota Highlander.
While some brands and models are widely believed to be more suitable for Nigerian roads, you can get good value from any vehicle provided you adhere strictly to the manufacturer’s instructions with regards to usage and maintenance. Your choice of brand or model should be informed by your experience (if this isn’t your first car), lifestyle, driving habits, and personal preferences.
3. Compare prices
The price is the single important factor that determines whether you’d be driving home the used car of your choice or not. To avoid being outplayed by dealers, you should equip yourself with the knowledge of the current market prices of your preferred vehicle models.
While you have the option of walking to a car dealership around you, an easier option is to simply visit online auto sale websites, classified ad sites, and auto sections of active forums. Your best bet, though, is this website, which is dedicated to listing the current prices of used cars in Nigeria. Simply scroll up to find the links to various car brands and follow through to see the prices of your preferred car models.
The usage history of a vehicle is the most important factor used to set prices in Nigeria. Used vehicles imported into the country are more expensive than those that have been used for some time on Nigerian roads before being put up for sale.
4. Find out about spare parts
Not every car model that looks attractive to you should make it to your shortlist of options. One of the factors to consider when filtering out not-so-cool options from your initial list is the availability and affordability of spare parts. You need to search online for prices of different parts of each car model — especially parts that you’d have to change at one point or the other such as brake pads, shock absorbers, wiper blades, etc. You also need to find out if these parts are readily available around you.
If you live outside Lagos and your favored car’s spare parts are only available in Lagos, that means you have to wait until you’re able to get each part your need from Lagos. That might not sound cool all the time, especially if you have no other vehicle.
5. Find out about the resale value
Whether you’re buying a foreign-used vehicle or a locally used one, you will most likely have to sell it at some point in the future. If you’re like most other Nigerians, you’d be looking to sell it at an attractive price by then. It’s common knowledge that some vehicle models have higher resale values than others.
In Nigeria, vehicles by Toyota generally have good resale values due to the durability of their vehicles. You can also get good resale prices for some models by Honda, Mercedes Benz, and Nissan. Brands like Kia and Hyundai typically have the worst resale values.
So, if you’re looking to still make some cool cash from your vehicle after you decide that you no longer need it, stick with brands that are widely known for their high resale values.
6. Find out about the cost of maintenance
There is more to know about your potential spending on your car than the cost of spare parts. Even more important to know is the cost of the required engine oil, oil filter, transmission fluid, and other stuff that you need to keep your car running smoothly. Some vehicles require oil grades that cost more than N20,000 per gallon, while others require oils that won’t cost you more than N6,000 per gallon. Similarly, the cost of transmission fluid and other fluids that require changing at periodic intervals vary from model to model.
So, if you’re on a low budget for car maintenance, it goes without saying that you should steer clear of models that cost much to maintain. It’s better to know these costs before making your choice, so you won’t be in for shocking financial surprises after you buy your vehicle.
7. Decide on where to buy from
When buying a used car in Nigeria, you have a number of options when it comes to the source you’re buying from. You can head straight to Nigeria’s biggest used car market at Apapa (Berger) in Lagos. You can also walk into any local car dealer around you. Another smart option is to check online car listing platforms such as Autochek Africa and Naijauto as well as general classified ads sites such as Jiji and Olist. You’ll also find a good number of options on the auto section of Nairaland, which is Nigeria’s biggest online forum.
Regardless of how you choose to source your vehicle, you need to be very careful — especially when dealing with online platforms. Never part with your money until you’ve done a thorough physical inspection and test drive.
8. Check everything thoroughly
The last and most important step you must never skimp on when buying a used car is inspection. Before you pay, you must check all aspects of the vehicle thoroughly. Be sure to go for your inspection in broad daylight, and with the vehicle parked on a balanced surface. Then take your time to do the following:
- Check the body for dents.
- Check the paint on the body for any rusts, scratches, or questionable spots.
- Open the trunk (boot) and check that it is in a neat condition.
- Check if the spare tire and other accessories are still intact.
- Check the tires carefully.
- Check the interior of the vehicle — from the dashboard to the upholstery.
- Check the mileage of the vehicle.
- Check the dashboard for any warning signs.
- Open the bonnet and see what everything there looks like at first glance.
- Pull out the engine oil and transmission dipstick to check the level and condition of the fluids.
- Look carefully into the hood to check for any oil or fluid leaks.
- Check the belts and hoses.
- Check the timing belt.
- Check all the lights inside and around the car and confirm that they are all working.
- Start the vehicle and listen carefully for any strange noises.
- Start the air conditioner to be sure it’s working perfectly.
- Check underneath the vehicle for rust. If possible, get under the car for a better view.
- If you notice anything questionable on the frame of the vehicle, ask questions or just pass!
- Check the vehicle’s papers thoroughly.
- Check the VIN to have some insight into the vehicle’s history.
Finally, take the car on a test drive during which you’d test the steering, brakes, etc., and also figure if there are problems with handling and other aspects of driving.
For a thorough check, you should hire a seasoned mechanic. Even if you know a lot about vehicle inspection, having a second opinion from an expert is always safer.