5 steps to buying a used car in India

The second-hand car market in India is booming. The only catch here is that you should have the eye to be able to spot a good deal when you see one and say no when a deal seems sour. Here are some tips that will help you pick a good second-hand car and avoid buying beer in a wine bottle.

The first thing you need to identify is where you will buy your car from. There are a plethora of sources and options for a second-hand car buyer, let’s see what the best way to go about this is.

5 steps to buying a used car in India

Where do I buy from?

You can look for interesting deals online on one of the many used car websites and listings. However, the best way is to select a car is to meet the person and buy it directly from the owner. If you are buying from the dealer try and convince him to let you meet the owner. That way you can ascertain if the deal in genuine and get a fair idea of how the car has been driven. It is best to go through a friend who has already bought a car from the dealer. Also be vary of brokers and dealers pretending to be owners. Also read: Best used cars for enthusiasts

What all do I do before I buy?

Before you get down to actually making a purchase take a look at the car and drive it. Try to accelerate hard and brake hard to check if all is in shape. Check for squeaky or rattling sounds. You should also ensure that all the paperwork of the car is in place. The registration certificate, insurance, NOC (when applicable), warranties etc should all be physically examined. Do not take the dealers word for anything, till you have seen the papers and the car.

Inspecting the car

Once you are certain that the price being quoted is fair and that the deal is genuine you can move onto inspecting the car. By now you have already driven the car once and made deductions about how it performs and skimmed over any issues that you found with the car. The next step is to take a trusted mechanic and an enthusiastic friend who knows his cars with you if possible. Always take the test drive with the music system turned off to ensure no sounds go unnoticed.

You can tell the mechanic about any problems you may have had the last time you drove it. Have your mechanic drive the car, preferably without the dealer sitting on your head. He will then be able to tell you if there are any problems or potentially expensive repairs that the car needs.

Now that you have made sure that the car has no issues while driving its time to ensure it isn’t accidental and/or repainted. This should be done preferably in the afternoon when the sun is bright, so that you can identify any discoloration in the paint. Also check for bent panels as they may have been hammered back into shape and painted after an accident. If all seems well till now, one of the last checks you need to perform is removing the rubber lining from all the door sills and the boot door sill to check if there are any bends or if there are signs of re-painting. Most cars have little indentations on these areas, which come from the factory press. A tinkered car will have these indentations missing.

Negotiating the final price

If you are happy with the car and it’s quoted price there is no need to bargain. However, in case you feel that there are some issues with the car which you can live with it is best to bring these issues out and ask for a better price. For instance scratches, re-painted or bent bumpers etc can easily help you knock of a couple thousand rupees from the quoted price. If you are buying from a dealer, remember that the dealer has his own margin and if you negotiate he may reduce the price as long as it is still profitable for him.

Also check the present market price for the car and model that you are buying. The older the car and the more mileage it has on the odometer the lesser the price. If the car you are buying is a discontinued model then you can bring down the price further by explaining to the dealer/present owner how hard it will be to maintain such a car and get spares for it.

Things you should get with the car

Although you are buying a second hand car, it is still a fair buy and you deserve to get certain things with the car. Apart from all the documents, insist on getting the service book/records on paper, warranty cards etc for any accessories installed are an added bonus. You should also check the boot for all your puncture repair equipment.

Things that should make you suspicious

  • Incomplete papers
  • Lack of service book or records
  • Holes in the boot (could mean a CNG kit was installed without being endorsed on the RC)
  • Loose wiring (Indicates that the electricals may have been tampered with)
  • Brand new carpeting (Could be a cover up for a rusting body)
  • Brand new tyres and rims (Although this is common practice in the second-hand market it could at times mean the car was driven rashly without much care)
  • Sounds from the suspension
  • Squeaky or rough sounds from the engine compartment or while going over pot holes


Once you have done all these checks, you can rest assured that the car you are buying is a good deal. However, buying a second-hand car is always a bit of a gamble and even after all these checks you may discover problems in the car much later. So, always buy from a trusted dealer, after getting the car checked from a trusted mechanic and personally inspecting the car till you are satisfied. Did you find these tips useful or do you have more tips that you would like to share with us? Leave your views and suggestions in the comments section below! Also read: How to pick a good used SUV