10 Things to Check Before Buying Used Cars in Nigeria

by Barakat Hammed

Owning a car is one of the necessities in the life of a Nigerian. It gives you the freedom to journey around without having to spend a portion of your day in public transit now and then.

Who will not like to flex around in their cars without sharing seats like they do in commercial vehicles? Nigerians buy used cars because they are less expensive than brand-new ones. 

However, many Nigerians are faced with the fear of buying used cars with some hidden damages and then spending a fortune on their repair. This article will guide you through the 10 things you need to consider before buying a used car in Nigeria to avoid regretting your decision.

Sit back and enjoy these amazing tips.

10 Things to Check Before Buying Used Cars in Nigeria

Used cars are popularly called “Tokunbo” in Nigeria.There are bad ones and there are good ones. What should you consider before getting a good used car in Nigeria?

  1. Consider your needs and preferences

The first thing to consider is why do you need a used car. If you need it to get you to your workplace and back, consider going for a small car like Honda Accord or Hyundai Elantra. If you need a car with space for luggage, consider getting a car like a Range Rover or BMW.


Honda Accord

When choosing a used car to buy, you should consider preferences like the colour, the air conditioning system, the sound system, car model and so on.

  1. Check your wallet

After taking note of your needs and preferences, it is important for you to know the amount of money you have to purchase a used car. This will allow you to either increase your budget or narrow down your options of car choices.

Setting aside money for maintenance, carrying out minor repairs or replacing the tyres is also crucial. It might even be for decorating the car interior to suit your taste.

  1. Do your homework

Since there are a lot of models and brands in the car industry, you need to research to know what brand and model you can afford with your budget. You should have more than one option to help you make various choices.

Doing your homework will help you know the price range of the used car you want to purchase, thereby aiding your bargaining process. As a buyer, you should avoid rushing for the cheapest option, as the cheapest option is usually not the best option.

  1. Contact the seller

After checking the aforementioned tips, you are expected to contact the seller. The seller can be an individual or a car company. This is where you let the seller know your preference, budget, and concerns so that they can know the car that suits your needs or make a recommendation. You can also do a research on the seller to ascertain whether they are fake or reliable.

  1. Check the vehicle identification number (VIN)

After a recommendation is made, the VIN is the first to check. This will enable you to determine the condition of the car and its mileage. The VIN will also show the year the car was manufactured.

cars mileage

Calculating a car’s mileage

A car’s mileage is the total distance travelled by a car since its manufacture. An average car gets an annual mileage of 10,000 to 12,000. So, if a used car has a mileage less than, it is considered to have a good mileage which is a deal breaker. A car’s annual mileage is determined by dividing the odometer number by the car’s age in years. Nairavin.com and LegitCar both allow you to check the VIN of a used car.

These websites prevented a friend from purchasing a stolen car a few years ago. The stolen Toyota Corolla 2012 Sport had been purchased less than 6 months prior. He was curious about why the owner wanted to sell the car but received no response. To be safe, he requested the VIN and contacted the police.

Read Also: Travelling in Nigeria: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

  1. Make enquiry on the reason for sale

The vendor’s honesty is crucial because many are more concerned with selling their product. Approximately 90% of Nigerian used cars put up for sale have hidden issues concealed mainly by lies, such as the car being sold due to relocation or upgrade.

Knowing the true reason for the sale will keep you from becoming a victim of another man’s problem. However, it is critical to involve security agencies, particularly Nigerian police, and obtain reports before purchasing used cars. 

Read Also: Money Management Skills: How to Stop Impulse Buying

  1. Check the maintenance history 

In checking the maintenance history, you need to know how often the used car has been serviced, how long it has been driven, and the number of the car users. The longer the period it has been driven, the higher the chances of malfunction. Make sure you go with a qualified auto mechanic to help with checking the maintenance history. 

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  1. Inspect the condition of the car

Inspecting the used car is the most crucial step, as one wrong move is equivalent to losing a fortune. Do a thorough inspection of the car, including the body, bonnet, interior cabin, cables, etc. You can also allow the car to run idly for some minutes while carefully inspecting the functioning parts.

Don’t be tempted to overlook any fault unless you understand its cost. It is advised to go along with 2 or more auto-mechanics to help inspect the vehicle. 

  1. Test drive

This will let you know if it fits into the picture of your dream car. Test driving at a long distance while carefully listening to any sound from the engine or any part of the body will help you detect any fault which might not be noticed on a short-distance drive. Drive the car on smooth and rough roads to inspect the car handling. You can also test drive the car in the rain to check for interior leaks.

Read Also: How to Start a Car Dealership Business in Nigeria: A Beginner’s Guide

  1. Check and recheck ownership and documents

Checking and collecting necessary documents will save you from fraud and harassment from law enforcement agencies. Verifying the used car’s ownership by checking the vehicle papers with the licensing office is important.


Buying a used car in Nigeria requires you to be very inquisitive and being vigilant. You need to ask a lot of questions, especially if it’s a car used in Nigeria. The more questions you ask, the more you know about what you want to buy.

What do you think? Is there any effective tip you want to share about buying used cars in Nigeria? Leave a comment or start a conversation on Insight’s Whatsapp community.

About Author

Avatar of Barakat Hammed
Barakat Hammed
Barakat is a professional content writer with competence in academic writing, ebooks, and blog posts. To help you convey your ideas to your audience, she provides articles written in the most appropriate style and tone.

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