Things to do When Planning to Buy a Used (Tokunbo) Car.

A brand new car is a luxury that most working class Nigerians cannot afford. This demography of Nigerians want to live a fulfilling life but at an affordable cost. Auto experts claim that a brand new car would lose over a third of its value the moment it is bought and driven out of the show room. People realise that an investment in automobiles is not for profit but for convenience.

Buying a used car or what in Nigeria is popularly called a tokunbo car, comes with a lot of risks. In this article, I will try to point out some very important things to consider and look out for when purchasing a tokunbo car. Auto experts point out that we should all know that buying a tokunbo car poses a greater risk as to when compared to buying a new car. A tokunbo car could have faults which are hidden from a prospective buyer’s view, for example, it could have been involved in an accident or the previous owner may not have maintained it properly. Before making a purchase, it is therefore recommended that a prospective buyer of a tokunbo car should exercise caution, or solicit the help of an auto expert. Below, I have listed and explained a few things to do when planning to buy a tokunbo car.



Auto experts state that this should be the very first thing a buyer puts into consideration. This is very important as it gives you an idea of the type of car you desire to drive home from a tokunbo car dealership, as the process of purchasing a tokunbo car could be a daunting task for an inexperienced person. They say that not preparing a budget, usually leads to the buyer spending more money than he/she can actually afford. In most instances, the payment is spread over a period of a few months and as such would seem attractive to the buyer, but in actual fact the buyer would be paying more than the real value of the car and therefore dipping into other areas of their funds.



Auto experts say that making a choice on what type of tokunbo car to buy can be particularly tough, as there are so many car makes/models available. In order to avoid purchasing a car that is not suitable for its purpose, that is, a car without the features a buyer requires, they emphasis that a buyer must make an exhaustive list. This would give the buyer an insight into the unique features of a wide range of car makes/models and help to narrow down on the choice of car to purchase. For example, if you have a family, you would need to make a list of the cars that have the features that are suitable for the needs of a family. These features would be different from that of a young man without a family, purchasing a personal car.



After making an exhaustive list, the next thing to do is to choose a car model that meets a majority or all of your needs. For example, people who drive long distances may want to reduce the money spent on fuel and as such would do well to pick from amongst a choice of cars with minimal fuel consumption. Another example is a buyer who has a large family, he/she may want to consider purchasing a spacious car and a car with extra safety features. Auto experts advise that prospective buyers should however, not limit themselves to a single feature.



Auto experts say that it is important to seriously consider the cost of insuring a car before it is purchased. They say that this is because of the varying costs of car insurance and the need to anticipate the recurrent costs that would be spent on insuring the car. The varying cost is because the cost of insuring a car depends on the make/model and year of the car, the driving experience of the driver, the area where the driver resides and a whole lot of other factors. These factors are what auto insurers use to calculate the monthly or yearly premiums of the insurance of the car. For example, the more driving experience you have, the lower the amount you have to pay on your auto insurance. Similarly, the higher the cost of a car, the higher the insurance premiums.

The most peculiar factor of auto insurance that relates to tokunbo cars is the age of the car. If a car is less than 3 years old, its value would be much higher than that of a car that is over 6 years old. Thus, the insurance premium on a 3 year-old car would be higher than that on a 6 year-old car.

A consideration of all these factors before purchasing a tokunbo car would give you an idea of how much you would be paying on auto insurance.



It is common knowledge that the older a thing is, the less reliable it would most likely be. Auto experts say that if you want a car for personal use, it is wise to avoid really old cars, as they would most likely have defects. They say that it does not matter how many new parts you fix into an old car, it will remain an old car. Besides, you could end up spending a lot of money fixing the car and frustrated at the amount of times it breaks down. Auto experts say that cars which are not older than 15 years should be considered and obviously the newer they are the better.  They point out that what tokunbo car dealers usually list in their adverts, is the car’s model year and not its production year. It is advised to check the date the car was produced.

Another thing to ponder upon when checking on the age of the car is the mileage of the car. This shows the distance the car has covered over its lifetime. This would give you a rough idea of how much the car has been used. A high mileage, depending on the age of the car, could indicate excessive usage. However, a low mileage may not guarantee that the car is in good condition, but still, the lower the mileage the lesser the risk for the buyer. The more a car is used, the more the wear and tear it incurs on the engine, brake, clutch, and other moving parts within the car. Buying an excessively used car puts a buyer at the risk of buying at a lower cost with high maintenance as against higher cost with low maintenance.



It would be wise for a buyer to purchase a car that is well-known for reliability and serviceability. You need to choose a car make/model that has a high mean time between failures. In other words, a car you can use for a long time before it develops a major fault. Experts state that the mechanical condition of the vehicle is very crucial to the reliability of a car.

When it develops faults, you have to consider how readily available and how affordable its parts are. Auto experts state that having easy access to a car’s parts can save the buyer a lot of pain. For example, Toyota cars have a good serviceability record, their parts are easily available in Nigeria. Purchasing a car with high reliability and serviceability qualities, allow such cars retain their value for a longer period of time.



Now that you have done all your planning and taken all of the above information on board before approaching the car dealer, you must now examine the car meticulously. This is where you have to be very alert. Auto experts say that it is very important for a tokunbo car to be mechanically sound. The fact that the tokunbo car may have slight dents and scratches should not put-off the buyer. It would not be unreasonable if the prospective buyer asks for a lower price if the tokunbo car has minor cosmetic damage. Auto experts also state that the interior of the tokunbo car, most often times, reveals a lot about how it had been used. They advise buyers to lookout for excessive wear on the dashboard, driver’s seat, steering wheel, controls, roof, driver’s door and handles. Tokunbo cars with engine or transmission problems should be avoided like a plague even if the problems are said to be minor faults by the tokunbo car dealer, experts warn. It usually leads to additional costs and expensive repairs. Tokunbo cars that have been excessively modified should also be avoided. Any modification should be done by a buyer and not the dealer.


If you eventually decide to buy a tokunbo car because of cash constraints, the points highlighted above should guarantee that you drive away from the tokunbo car dealership a satisfied customer.