How to inspect and cost the condition of used cars (2022 best practice)

The condition of an old car before restoration

When you consider your budget that may propel you to shop for a low price ride through free classified sites like jiji, AutoTrader, Craigslist, Cars45 etcetera … you might be in shock at what you eventually take home if due diligence is not done on your part as far as Nigeria automobile market is concerned.

There are a lot of resources and tools out there to make the procedure involved in buying cars effective. But for simplicity and without going into more confusing technical details, we can get straight to this Lagos price‘s free handbook guide that has the complete listing on what you should appraise and check for while going on car hunting.

But first, what are we more eager to discuss that is of relevance to what you want of your ride? Take a sneak peek at the table of content below to quickly navigate to any area of interest.

1. True Market value
1.1 What is a True Market Value (TMV) of cars?
1.2 Factors that determine the true market value of a car
1.3 How to determine the true market value of a car
2. Bargain chips
2.1 Trade-in
2.2 Private party
2.3 Auction
3. Smart analytic tools
4. Key areas to inspect in the car and how to do it during an active check.

True Market Value

What is a True Market Value of Cars?

By definition, the True Market Value (TMV) of a car is the estimated price of the vehicle based upon actual sales data and market forecast and which is taken as a guide as to what other buyers in that area paid for owning the same vehicle model. This definition applies to a new or used tokunbo car in the US, UK, Japan, Belgium and other European countries just as it applies to any car cleared by customs for Nigeria use.

One of the best Nigeria Toyota Camry gold colour model

Factors that determines true market value of a car

Heads Up!, it is important to clarify this, whenever the value of a car is subjected to scrutiny or a valuation is needed to be carried out, some variables are well noted to always influence the market value. These variables are

  1. Nature of previous use. For instance, new cars used for rental service by fleets company are resold at a far lesser price.
  2. Excellent fuel efficiency. Cars with such quality will sell higher because they are in high demand.
  3. Rate of depreciation: to get the depreciation value of a car, your calculation will be based on previous model years of the car, its quality, and the number of used cars on the market.
  4. High-quality cars
  5. The mileage
  6. Natural cause – flooded or accidented
  7. A car produced in less quantity
  8. Long-term mechanical issues. The value of the cars depreciate much faster

Processes involved in determining a price of a car after grading its condition

By going with the standards of most notable car valuation sites such as Kelley’s Blue Book KBB and others, you can determine by estimate the TMV of a car by properly cross-checking its state of condition against the following category of conditions as explained in the detail below.

Start point of Lagos vehicle inspection office

Near New Condition:

The car at this state has its mileage read below average for the year model. Cars in this category have no significant flaws whatsoever. They have a clear indication of a perfectly maintained Interior. The Engine looks new and it is in excellent condition. Other relevant components and compartments in the car such as the Trunk, Spare tire are in great shape. Tools and accessories are all still very much available. Upon verification of service records, the Service history of the car is readily accessible and does not suggest any serious mechanical or bodywork. For vehicles like this, their title history is clean.

The value estimation of this car in a near new condition is around 85% of the car price for the same newer model and will be having around 20yrs – 22yrs of lifespan to hang onto.

Extra Clean Condition:

The car at this state has its mileage read below average for the year model. Cars within this class, have no significant bodily defect such as scratches. However, there may be some indication of minor scratches at the door or on the vital edges of the car. There may also be little interior wear as well as very minute weathering around the underhood. Tools and accessories are still available (but may not be complete). Upon verification of service records, results indicate a clean Title history and the Service history of the car does not suggest any serious mechanical or bodywork.

The average estimated value of an extra clean car can worth 75% – 80% of the car price for the same newer model and will have 19yrs – 22yrs on its shelf life.

Clean Condition

For a car to imply to be in a clean condition, then, it has to be that there are no major defects on the vehicle. The rust on this vehicle isn’t apparent. Upon verification of service records, the vehicle’s result shows a clean Title History, the exterior and interior may have few scratches and no serious mechanical issues. Tread wears on the tires can be observable. Reconditioning of cars in this condition may not be necessary but they are recommended to increase their retails sales value.

The value estimation of this car in a clean condition is around 70% or slightly less for the price of the same newer model and 12yrs – 15yrs of lifespan to play with.

Fair Condition

A car in fair condition will have some mechanical or aesthetic defects that have to be serviced and fixed before it can be deemed fit to run on the road. There can be noticeable rust that should be rectified as well. Upon verification of service records, the vehicle’s result shows a clean Title History, the exterior and interior may have few scratches and minor mechanical issues that require the attention of a pro. The condition of the tires may be poor and would require replacement.

The value estimation of a car in fair condition is between 50% – 60% of the car price for the same newer model and 6yrs – 8yrs of lifespan an owner can use it for.

Poor or damaged condition

The condition of a vehicle here means that the vehicle has mechanical and aesthetic defects and is in poor shape. The severity of issues such as a damaged frame or complete mechanical breakdown can most time get to the point it can’t be reversibly fixed. A car in poor condition usually comes with a branded title (salvage, flood, etc.) or unsubstantiated mileage.

The value estimation of this car in a poor condition is around 10% – 30% of the car price for the same newer model. These kinds of cars are best advised to be recycled or salvaged.

4 ways to make a dead car useful again
52 cars ranked by what they are most suited for

Bargain Chips

At this junction, you’d want to be certain you are getting the best deal. And to make that happen, you can take advantage of the following bargain chips to buy your car.

The vehicle that ended up being exchanged for another one at the car dealership usually happens to be resold at a far lesser rate to used car dealers or to buyers that wouldn’t care much for a warranty.

Private Party
Private party ( or private sellers most often fall into distress sales). One surest thing is that when you happen to have a deal with a private seller, you equally happen to be in the presence of the person that has the most valuable knowledge about cars you are interested in.

Cars that end up at auction bay are another avenue to strike a bargain. At this junction, you may buy low or high. The final selling price is mostly dependent on the number of bidders and at what cost they are all prepared to get it for themselves.

Smart analytic tools

The hassle that accompanies the costing and acquiring TMV of cars off the shelve of various vendors and dealership are minimized with the aid of these tools as follows

Appraisal tool: This software program is pretty much an accurate tool used in determining the current worth of your car for free. While at a premium price, they are easily integrated into websites of car dealers or review websites like Edmunds.

CARFAX: is an online resource for pulling out car history for records of any form of accidents or title the car might have had in course of use. It is a cheaper way to check the history of any used vehicle. Every type of vehicle has its unique serial number that is called Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). With this VIN, the history reports can be easily retrieved from the database.

Key areas to inspect in the car and how to do it

A deep-down investigation before buying a pre-owned or used car from a dealership or a private seller is the utmost task a buyer has to do. Being able to perform this basic inspection will help build the foundation knowledge of what to equip yourself with when embarking on a Do-It-Yourself car maintenance.

There are always techniques for hiding serious mechanical problems from a buyer, so choosing a seller you trust is your best bet for a good deal.

So, if you don’t have the mechanical knowledge to inspect a car yourself or you aren’t close by, it’s worthwhile to arrange to have the car looked over by an independent mechanic for extra peace of mind. While the seller may not want to bother you coming to the car shop or location, some important details will require you a have a ‘third eye’ to still inspect on.

Car history

It is very important that when you search history of a vehicle, there are very crucial details you should pay more attention to.

This does include detail such as the nature of what its previous user was doing with it? How many miles show on the odometer? Maybe 190,000 miles (304,000 km) or more on the reading? And if you are going to drive long distances commuting or traveling, cars over 100,000 miles (160,000 km) should be seriously depreciated, Also look into what terrain was it mostly driven? Was it driven mostly on tarred highway road or untarred hilly mountain?

Test for Basic performance

When you can check for the basic performance of the car by basing your test specifically on the following areas, these are what you do…

At the alternator, water pump, and air conditioner compressor: look out for warped or bent components in them.

For the engine vent or the oil filler cap: Be observant about exhaust leaks or smoke coming through them.
At the point of ignition: When the vehicle sputters or tries to keep running after the switch is turned off, the car may be due for a major tune up.

You can also take this a little further by raising the hood when the vehicle is started up, listen for any unusual sounds. and if you notice noises that seem like iron are grinding on each other will suggest knocking sounds at the first start-up. And that is a clear sign the engine is gone for good.

While the vehicle is running, be as much certain that any form of vibration, pulleys which may seem to wobble is not present. You shouldn’t forget to check the fan blades to know if it is spinning or not.

Engine inspection

To inspect the engine, the following key areas should be checked. And these are what you should do…

2019 Toyota corolla engine view

Under the hood: even for an inexperienced eye, you can do this hassle-free task.
Do the oil check. Pull out the dipstick and look at the oil. the color should be between light amber and dark brown. and the oil thickness should be moderately viscous in look and feel.

Note: If after oil inspection, you happen to detect a black tarry looking oil, then that shows a sign of neglect in servicing the engine. If you notice milky or foamy bubbles in the oil. it indicates a blown head gasket or cracked block or cylinder head. Also, If you smell a burnt odor, it is a sign that the valves are not in perfect alignment.

The hoses, wire insulation, and belts should be free of cracks, and unusual discoloration. Notwithstanding, it is important to clarify that belts may be manufactured in a variety of colors and that should not be mistaken for a color change that may be observed on faulty belts.

Transmission System Check

To go about a check on the transmission of an automatic vehicle, you can pull the dipstick and take a deep look at the transmission fluid. If it is dark brown, black, or smells burnt which is sharply distinct from the usual pink or red-colored very thin oily liquid, then, there is a serious transmission problem you’ve got to be prepared for dear.

Electronic and Computer System Check

You wouldn’t want to dare take a flooded car home, right? We are sure about that! When you notice any unusual way the entertainment system of the car behaves, then, do not doubt a flood history of the vehicle.

Methods employed for checking car mileage

Comfort System Check

The comfort system comprises AC, heating, suspension, e.t.c. they are there to make driving a round of experience. Given that, this helps justify why you need to inspect the condition of the vehicle in this regard. So to have that checked through…then

At the diver seat: spend a lot of time in the driver’s seat, so you can get a better impression of the legroom, cabin controls, and other calming feature you’re supposed to feel. It is reasonable to do that so as to help you know if is well configured in such a way to be comfortable to you,

Exterior check

Now take a deep dive into what we should be looking for here. And they include.

Check for wear on the tires if you are sure that they have never been changed. Doing this can help you find out the kind of terrain the car was driven through. You can easily know at the first glance if the car was often driven in steep or hilly terrain since cars that ply this route experience serious drive train wear.

The vehicle also driven in areas with harsh weather conditions like snowy environments are made to go through highway where salt is often used for deicing. This type of solution can end up affecting the undercarriage where signs of rust damage are seen due to the corrosive nature of salt. So in this case as well, it will be advisable to check for paint body issues.

Interior Check

When performing a proper inspection on the interior, you should try as much as possible not to skip the following points

The Truck: Open the trunk and check for jack, usable spare tire, and tire tool. You can also try to pull up the edges of the carpet and look for rust or scratches.

The Seat: the seat belts and seat adjustment features should be in good working condition to ensure you are comfortable with them.

2018 Toyota sienna LE sitting arrangement

Entertainment: The radio, CD player, the phone charger socket, the horn, interior lights, exterior light, windshield wipers, e.t,c should be tested when the car is started. Although, most of these features may be less expensive and simple to repair. However, you must be double sure the problems they could be having aren’t connected to Electronic Computer Unit (ECU) or any major wiring issue.

The interior of the vehicle should be keenly observed for a smell. when you notice a smell such as a musty, damp odor, then there is a strong indication that there may be leaks in the floor pan or the doors, windows, or other seams. It is often not an easy task to locate and repair these kinds of leaks. While this may go unnoticed, it can be very risky in the long term to leave this exposed to moisture that would eventually lead to corrosion problems hidden by a carpet or other flooring.

Safety Check

To perform a holistic check on the safety of the vehicle, you can apply a little bit of gas, listen for a popping noise, if you notice a sound that doesn’t appear to come from the engine, then that would likely indicate a worn out or damaged universal joints or suspension components.

While you take the vehicle for a spin, brake the car sharply when you have reached about 10 to 15 mph (16 to 25 km/h), and observe if it stops quickly with ease. However, if any form of disturbing noise or force is felt through the steering column, then that will require further investigation to know if steering, suspension, or brake components are having some issues.

WOW… you’ve come this far in digesting this piece...
And we thought, you might also be interested to know that we are highly reliable with helping people source for their vehicles and assisting them to procure them from the US or Europe , by offering comprehensive inspection, and by handling shipping and custom issues in Nigeria. CALL/CHAT +2348039756249 (WhatsApp) to get started.

In addition, If you are considering starting a transport business with Sienna or space bus, you can get your free downloadable copy of complete Sienna transportation business plan that guides you on how to start a successful interstate travel business.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *