The recession is real. Forget the talk of Nigeria being out of recession; many are still struggling.

The automobile industry is one of the worst hit. Nigerians are no more buying tokunbo cars let alone tear rubber.

Add to the recession, the fact that it has become more expensive to clear used cars at Nigerian ports, the result is that more people are now buying off fellow Nigerians – Naija-used.

They are cheaper but the risks are higher too.

Oluwaseun Durowaiye is a Sales and Valuation Officer at Cars45 and he says asides knowing the brand, model, and asking about the fuel consumption of the car you want to buy, you need to do more research.

What are the most common problems with these cars? What should you be ticking on your list.


This is the first and most important thing because the risks involved are quite enormous.

If you are not buying a brand-new car, you cannot be sure of the character or mistakes of the previous owner of that car.

You don’t want to buy a stolen vehicle or a car that has been used to commit a crime like armed robbery or even a hit and run.

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When it is just being imported into the country – Tokunbo, the Customs papers are essential plus, of course, your purchase receipt with which you can then process all required documents.

But when you’re buying from a Nigerian user, ensure those ‘required documents’ are available – Proof of Ownership, allocation of plate number, CMR, vehicle license, insurance...everything.

Gear System

This is where a test-drive becomes a must.

“Cars are designed in different ways. For example, an average Toyota car is designed to change gears while driving at between 2,500 to 3,000rpm.

“If the car is revving too high and it’s not changing to a higher gear and the rpm drops, then you know there is something wrong.

“You can’t miss it in a test-drive. It’s something you have seen.

“It’s only Cars45 that buys a car in 45 minutes because we have technicians who are trained to know the condition of a car in less than 20 minutes,” Mr Durowaiye said.


Engine Condition

Forget that gist about water coming out of the exhaust pipe. The car dealer likes to make you feel it’s a proof that the engine is perfect, right? Our expert was quick to dismiss it.

The worst thing that can go wrong with an engine is hearing the knocking sound or when the engine is smoking but what is this so-called knocking sound?

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“When you start your engine, it is supposed to run smoothly with no strange sound like clashing metals; that is when there is proper lubrication.”

As for that talk of the exhaust pipe letting out water, a trained technician is supposed to know better.

“Fuels are hydrocarbons, when you combust fuel, you burn it with hydrogen and oxygen which is the air mixture. It produces water (H2O) and carbon-monoxide (CO).

“Water could be coming out of an engine and there could still be something wrong. Pay attention to the sound, smoke and smell.”

Air Conditioning System

This is one of those essential addons that make driving more pleasurable in the temperate weather. It adds value to the car you’re buying and it is worth considering.

Buying a used car doesn’t not exclude you from enjoying a cool sweat-less drive.


Age Is Not An Issue

It may be misleading to judge the condition of a car by its year of release as there are new model car that have been badly maintained.

“In the US, you can buy a car of year 2000 and still drive it for 20 years and that is why vintage cars are more expensive.

“When there is proper maintenance, the roads are good, parts are readily available and they don’t do haphazard repairs, the cars are better,” he said.

This explains why buying a Naija-used car is more of a risk that requires some professional support because those ideal maintenance conditions are not here and the mechanics cut corners a lot.

He warns, do not depend only on the year of purchase in making your decision.

Worthy of Mention – Hurricane Cars

For those who can still afford tokunbo, there are chances of cars recovered from Houston’s Hurricane Harvey disaster being shipped into Africa with several hidden problems, but Mr Durowaiye says there are telltale signs with which you can identify them.

“Look under the seats and engine for rusts. Salt water corrodes immediately, and it must have taken them at least two weeks to ship the vehicle into Nigeria,” he said.

Since not many people can use the car diagnostic scanner properly, why not go to inspect that car with your technician?