It has been many years since I last bought a brand-new vehicle. Ever since discovering the wonders of secondhand vehicle shopping (both cars and bikes) and the joys of depreciation (as in you let someone else bear the brunt of it), I have always used trades to further my car and bike addiction. The savings from buying secondhand are just too great to pass up, especially if you can find an unmolested and pristine example of your previously unobtainable dream ride.
That said, there are caveats to this practice, ranging from minor issues to potential big headaches. Here are 10 of my pet peeves when buying used vehicles:
1. Open deeds of sale (or non-transfer of registered owner)
This is a particular pet peeve because of how common it is. Open deeds of sale should not be practiced because they expose the registered owner to liability for traffic accidents and violations due to the law providing for the registered-owner rule.
Not only that—it also becomes a hassle later on when you actually want to register the car in your name. It’s very likely that some of the documents for this have already gone missing after the car has changed owners multiple times.
2. No maintenance history
Vehicles are mechanical objects full of consumables, which means a lot of its components need to be repaired and monitored. What makes buying a secondhand vehicle more complicated is that you have to rely on the previous owner’s honesty as to the unit’s maintenance.
It irks me that some sellers don’t give a detailed history of the vehicles. Timing belts need to be changed, oil needs to be replaced, and a lot of other consumable and non-consumable items need to be looked after. The lack of any form of history (in the form of receipts) or information (in the form of an honest seller) could mean that a vehicle may be prone to problems later on while it is in your possession.
3. Units that are not actually maintained
Not having a maintenance history is one thing, but not maintaining a car is another matter entirely. The unit will eventually exhibit problems, and these problems are also compounding—once something breaks, other things are bound to follow suit.
This is why when I buy a secondhand vehicle, the first thing I do is bring it to a shop to have the car thoroughly checked, all the fluids changed, and every single bolt tightened. It’s for my own peace of mind as well as for as hassle-free an ownership experience as possible.
4. Unresponsive sellers
You just saw your dream car or bike on Carousell or some other online marketplace. As you read the specifications and check the photos, you fall more and more in love, and instantly add it to your shopping list to check out. You message the seller asking for more details—and you either get no reply or you get a curt response telling you to check the car in person.
No. Time is money. There is no sense in wasting time to go somewhere far out to check a vehicle, only to find out that it’s not your preferred spec, or the registration has already expired. Sellers should be more forthcoming in accommodating buyers—after all, we are the ones going out of our way to check out posted vehicles. A reply with information would go a long way in encouraging us to actually leave the comforts of our home to go see your vehicle.
5. Tacky/dangerous aftermarket accessories
Accessories, when tastefully done, do go a long way in showing you how a seller has taken care of and loved his vehicle over the course of his ownership experience.
Let me stress, however, that there is a very fine line between tasteful and tasteless, and given the rash of ‘car-show winners’ and a penchant for an excess number of gauges, scissor doors, and oversized wheels on what could have been a great econo-car floating around on the Internet, the online marketplace is filled with duds. No, these excessive modifications don’t add value to a car. No, such a car is often not safe to drive. The car would have been better off without such tackiness.
6. No stock parts included
If you do find a very tastefully modified vehicle, it can still be a pain when the seller does not include the stock parts with the purchase. Yes, I do like the aftermarket wheels you put on your Subaru, but please include the stock wheels, just in case the ride is too bumpy or the style may not be to my liking.
Not including the stock parts in the sale could be a red flag showing just how the seller takes care of his car. It also means returning a vehicle to stock would be both difficult (sometimes impossible) and costly.
7. Dirty cars
It takes less than 30 minutes to give the car a quick wash before posting photos or before someone checks it out. Not doing so just reeks of laziness and reflects badly upon the seller as a car owner. It’s like skipping the shower when preparing for a date.
Also, that layer of dirt covering the vehicle may just be hiding paint imperfections and damage.
8. ‘Insured for the year’
A lot of unscrupulous sellers (due to ignorance, or sometimes on purpose) think that they can increase the value of the vehicle they are selling by stating that the vehicle is insured for the remainder of the year. Check your policy, people! Some insurers do not allow for transferring of the policy without the express consent of the insurer.
There is nothing worse than buying a car at a premium, thinking it is insured, only to have the insurer refuse your claim because the insurance contract is non-transferrable. This issue is much more common that it should be.
9. Unregistered cars
This irks me to no end. These sellers know that the car cannot be driven legally on the road unless it is properly registered. There is nothing worse than seeing your dream car and checking it out, only to find that the registration has not been renewed for two years.
This makes the car susceptible to being towed away and impounded. This also shows the seller’s lack of diligence: If he couldn’t take the time to have the vehicle registered, what are the odds of him being able to follow the preventive maintenance schedules?
10. Buyer’s remorse
There are always better, cooler, more awesome vehicles for sale. What I hate the most is buying a vehicle, then checking online after a week and finding a unit in better condition and specification selling for a smaller price.
When it comes to post-purchase online checking, just say no. Enjoy your new (secondhand) purchase, and (try to) never look back. All cars and bikes have a role to play in your life, and it’s up to you to write that story.