When it comes to buying used vehicles, there is no hard and fast rule to knowing which car would not become a headache to you or even plunge you into debt.

The Naija used cars business is not straight-forward. The dealers/owners try to prey on your ignorance to make quick cash.

The less you know, the better for them.

So, if you are planning to buy a used-car, these are few tips to help guide you.

1. Determine What You Want In Your Preferred Car: This should be the first decision you make as you plan to buy your car.

“Everyone has his criteria on a car. For some people, they want the body of their cars to be perfect. They do not even care if the engine or gear is bad.

“Some people on the other hand do not care if the body is scattered so long as the engine, the gear and the AC work. So, everybody has a different preference,” said Didi Obioh who is a used-car dealer/expert.

You must determine what you want and pay attention to the details during your inspection.

2. Profile The Car Seller: If you can, do some psychological profiling of the seller. Or make sure someone with psychological analytic skills accompanies you while inspecting.

Beyond checking whether the car you want to buy is accidented or whether the windscreen has been changed; it is important that you estimate what the dealer is capable of, including his maintenance culture.

According to Didi, “through this, you get to understand whether he/she is someone that is capable of rigging the engine and telling you he has never even worked on it.

"Beyond this, take a critical look at the engine. If possible, demand a scan during the inspection," she said.

3. Be Wary Of Cars That Are Over-Packaged. It is not out of place for a used-car to have few dents or scratches or even the bumper pushed in a bit. That is what makes it a used-car.

Didi says the car may actually not have any grave issues.

But you should be concerned if the car is over-sprayed or the seller has wrapped the dashboard.

Some parts may have been replaced just to make it look interesting to the eye when there is something wrong with the car.

The dents and scratches on the car shows that the seller has used the car and not trying to hide anything.

4. Check The Mileage: You should check how many miles (in our case kilometers) the car you want to buy has traveled. You may be trying to buy a car that has been used as Kabu kabu.

Some car dealers also adjust the mileage to give a wrong impression that the car has not been used so much. It is preferable that you go with an expert, who will be able to know if the mileage has been tampered with.

5. Try To Find Out Why the Seller Is Selling: People sell cars for various reasons but not all are genuine.

Did the seller run into financial difficulty? Does he want to change his car? Or is he travelling abroad? He may be selling because the car has been giving him troubles.

In that case, you do not want to inherit his liability. If the car has been stolen, you do not also want to get yourself involved in such deals.

If possible, get the number plates on the car and run a quick check with the Vehicle Inspecting Officers' unit.

6. Transact From Seller’s House: “If you are buying a Nigerian used car, try to interact with the seller in his or her house,” advised Didi.

This is more so if you are buying from a seller directly and not from a dealer.

This helps you to make sure the person does not have anything to hide. Do not buy a car from anyone in the street.

7. Insist On Sitting Inside The Car While The Engine Runs: During inspection, insist on sitting in the car for at least 30 minutes while the engine steams.

You should also drive it and listen for unusual noise. Someone who has anything to hide would probably not let you sit in the car for more than five minutes. But if he has nothing to hide, he would even encourage you to drive the car and have a good feel of it.

He won’t mind how many hours you sit in the car as long as you are willing to buy fuel.