Used Car Market is a booming sector in India. People love to get new cars but are limited by inadequate parking space, Especially in metro cities like New Delhi. It’s often considered best if you can buy a used car from a known associate, as not to get ripped off in a bad deal. But not everybody is out right now selling their cars and stuff, And one needs to get a car from unknown sources. This is our [weird, horrific and humorous] story of how was the experience of Purchasing A Used Car In New Delhi like.
The stepping stone : OLX.com !
I believe in technology [& i try to avoid humans] so i started browsing the classifieds at OLX.in, for used cars in our tiny budget of just 2Lakhs. It was amazing to see such vivid variety of cars and we could chat with the individuals [more later] and ask questions. Soon what we were looking for was turning up, 2008 Honda City’s with V-tec. I shortlisted some and went the later day to look at them.
And here comes the spoilers… 8 out of 10 cars were being sold by dealers, with offices no bigger than one’s toilet. The cars admittedly looked like they were taken care of [Or just taken care of before we arrived]. Okay,no problems. As we went on to take look at more and more cars we could see what to expect with these Honda City’s of that age and mileage. The ones really cheap smelled like sex, and the ones that looked somewhat okay were unbelievably expensive. But what really helped in determining the true value of used cars was OrangeBookValue.com :
Generally, You want to be paying around or less than the price mentioned on their website.
After inspecting dozen of Honda City’s, We finally found the right car. While it was being sold by a dealer impersonating like he was the owner of the car, The car itself was in good condition. Interiors were clean, It didn’t smelled like a brothel on wheels, Engine bay was okay too. It did suffered from the classic City issue, Rusting on spare tire well. I’ve heard that rust is car cancer, But you know, It was the best damn specimen i had seen after a long search. I also managed to get the pricing down to 2.15L, what was advised by OBV:
I have to admit, The dealer went out of his way and did provide me the car to take it on a long test drive, And the car did passed my tests. Later that day we made the payment via a check, And took the delivery of a nice Honda City Zx V-tec 2008 with 80k on the odometer.
The next morning we planned to take the car to a wash-n-wax place, because who doesn’t like a shiny car. I placed the car on the ramp, And the worker went on to do his magic. He bought out his pressure washer, And as soon as he went on to spray high pressure water on the underbody, We heard a clank, and within seconds gallons of water rushed inside the car.
What the actual phuck ?
Took the car off ramp, removed the Plastic foot rest, removed the foot matting below that, and to my surprise, there was another matting below it, removed that too. Found out the underbody below the driver side was rusted to splits, And I could actually see the road from inside the car, below my feet. OMG did I get ripped off ?
Moving onto better things, Mechanic-Verified Online Portals :
Went back to the dealer next morning, With a police constable. Luckily he didn’t cashed the check. Got full refund. Learned never ever to trust small dealers, Specially on classifieds sites. People had told me there are sites that sell mechanically verified cars, with warranty. I went online and found TrueBil.com & Droom.in. Both sites have a humongous advertisement budget, and EMPLOY INDEPENDENT DEALERS to have a vast car inventory. While I found TrueBil to have a better car inspection system, with faults in the cars listed in the report, Droom has a bigger car inventory, with somewhat fake-ish inspection report. Found some cars one these platforms, Paid 4k to droom as a token amount for a car i liked ( Swift Dezire 2009), went to take a look at it, And was surprised to find a perfect car ruined by improper CNG kit installation, Obviously the owner got it done by a street side mechanic. Electric wires were loose and spread all around the engine bay, A pair of wiring dangled around the drive belt, a disaster waiting to happen. I guess droom missed this on their inspection report…
With almost 15 days gone by and about 30+ cars self-inspected, I learned some stuff :
- Honda City owners dont take care of their cars, Better to search for Honda Amaze, if you love that vtec kick yo !
- Only a few brands retain their resale value. Ford and Skoda generally are dirt cheap. Mainly because they have costly spares.
- Indian car manufactures make good cars. If I had gone the way of buying a SUV, Mahindra would have been my first choice.
- Its pointless buying a used car without a trusted mechanic having a look at it. Delhi mechanics will agree to check out your cars at just 500 bucks, And its better than the inspection reports on “verified sites”.
- The dealers make at-least a profit of 2x per sale. Meaning they will buy hoopties, refurb them (poorly at best) and flip them.
- Most dealer cars had Refurbished tires. As told by many, They will buy old tires in large stocks, Deepen the treads, Wash & polish them and sell it to unknown buyers. What a scam.
- Cars are polished by liquids such as WD-40, to make them look shinier. Often they will also warm up car engines before you take a test drive, As warmer engines don’t show signs of wear such as Engine Knock, difficulty cranking up and bad batteries.
I was about to give up when one of my relatives (who is a Delhi native) took me to a car lot in Laxmi Nagar. The person who owned the lot was a dealer too, But as my relative told me He is okay. He took in sound cars and sold them without much refurbishing. He was also verified by CarTrade.com, The lot was full of cars that were reserved by top-end used car sellers, Such as Mahindra First Choice and Maruti True Value. Roaming around I couldn’t find my Beloved Honda City. But i spotted a Toyota Corolla ’07 standing in there. I knew about this car, I knew Toyota must have done something right, As it was the most sold car in the whole world. Took it for a test drive, stopped by my mechanic on the way over, Got the all clear and took delivery of a sweet 2007 Toyota Corolla H5 1.8E for 2.3L. Paid extra 7k to the RTO agent for the paperwork and another 1K for a spare key. Insurance worth 8k would be done on a later date when the paperwork would be complete.
Got a free Jackstand, The manuals for the car, solid wax perfume and a mobile charger for the way from the dealer. We left from Delhi around 9.00PM, Since it was a Toyota, i knew it won’t break down in middle of nowhere. After a continuous 3 Hour drive, 250 kilometers and a box of sweets for the kind Police officers who insisted “Mithaai Kilao miyan nayi gaadi leyaa hai” later, presented it to my family.
After 6 solid months of ownership, I can say i got a good deal, And you can too if you are vigilant, Check out as much there is to the car. Request the service records, Check its VIN against NCRB Crime Database (Here), Call up the insurance provider and check if any claims had been made in the past. Get the car mechanically inspected and take it for a good test drive. Take some experienced driver / car lover friend with you and check every inch of car. Don’t cancel good deals over minor scratches/dents, Instead use them to negotiate the pricing. Create a checklist that consists of common tests such as exhaust color test, engine oil test, steering coloum test and suspensions test, All of these which you can do yourself i 2 minutes. Feel the engine temperature and insist it must be cold before taking it for a test drive.
Remember : Whatever the websites or the dealers quote the price for a car, Its more of an “Asking Price”, You are supposed to negotiate on it.