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Saturn

How To Buy A Used Car In Sri Lanka

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Wow this is a great list, thank you for taking the time to compile it; this list would have been very handy earlier this year when me and my cousin looked for a 2nd hand car

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The idea behind this document is to create a guide to buying a used car in Sri Lanka.

Mighty nice of you to this Saturn No doubt this would help lots of people… Good if we can have this posted in the site…..

Well Done Saturn

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Hey Saturn,

Wonderful piece of advise mate, thanks.

Edited by EVO_Croozer

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Hey, Awesome job Saturn.

Actually this is perfectly timed as I'm looking at buying in the near future.

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hey great job saturn... hopefully people can add to this to make more "sri lankan" :D

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Good work Saturn, very well done.

But IMO some of the points you raise are very theoretical its heard to use them to practical use.

i.e. reversing up a hill, driving in a bumpy/rough road (I’m interpreting this as a road with lot of pot holes), putting it up a hoist to check the under carriage. Seller may not be too pleased to put his vehicle through potholes if he has washed or detailed the vehicle recently.

It’ll also be hard to observe seller’s behaviour. Especially if it’s a person from a carsale. Plus lot of Sri Lnakns have experience in selling a vehicle hence it is very easy to put up a fake face.

Tap test, I know it s very effective but personally I’ll hate to see a stranger tapping my vehicle. (some people do take the P***)

All in all I recon a lot depend on the buyer using bit of common sense.

Thumbs up once again for all your hard work.

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Thank you everyone for the kind words..

..experts.. please ADD TO/EDIT the post. Give your suggestions and tips on what YOU look for when buying a used car

Good work Saturn, very well done.

Thanks!!

But IMO some of the points you raise are very theoretical its heard to use them to practical use.

>>true

i.e. reversing up a hill, driving in a bumpy/rough road (I’m interpreting this as a road with lot of pot holes), putting it up a hoist to check the under carriage. Seller may not be too pleased to put his vehicle through potholes if he has washed or detailed the vehicle recently.

>>I'd say reverse and drive the bumpy road slowly, better yet ask the owner to do the driving. I don't mean a steep hill just a modest incline say 10 - 20 degrees will help stress the engine/transmission, particularly if its auto. (step out, and ask the owner to reverse up a few feet and watch the vehicle/exhaust etc)

A good vehicle should be capable of even climbing the famous pagoda lane hill (that road off pagoda road which has a 40 degree or so incline... you guys know what I'm talking about right? But I wouldn't suggest taking any car there unless you want to give the owner a heart attack.

But that road is a really good test of manual transmission. The last time I saw someone take a car up that road, they burnt the clutch then and there.

It’ll also be hard to observe seller’s behaviour. Especially if it’s a person from a carsale. Plus lot of Sri Lnakns have experience in selling a vehicle hence it is very easy to put up a fake face.

>>>True but when it comes to the test drive, people tend to drive the way they normally do. It's a thing here. OK for the first 5 minutes they will be civilized but after that the insanity sets in and they start driving like they usually do.

Tap test, I know it s very effective but personally I’ll hate to see a stranger tapping my vehicle. (some people do take the P***)

>>>Yes, I recommend the 'gentle' version of using a fingernail and very gently tapping. I also get pissed off when people try this with my car, especially the old types who 'rap' the car.

Edited by Saturn

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Thank you everyone for the kind words..

..experts.. please ADD TO/EDIT the post. Give your suggestions and tips on what YOU look for when buying a used car

This is a perfect job. I wll print and keep it with me. It is really important guide for me. Thanks... :)

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Hey Saturn,

Wonderful piece of work man & I am sure the experts will lay their comments too & its gonna be a masterpiece. Keep up the good work guys. I got my first set off 14Sri wheels 2 months back <_< & thank god I am happy cuz after reading I am feeling that my purchase is positive.

Cheers

Shaz

We all would love to see you car before and after the work

Hi Saturn,

Good work bro. Also can someone add the leagel stuff like checking the books and stuff

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We all would love to see you car before and after the work

Hi Saturn,

Good work bro. Also can someone add the leagel stuff like checking the books and stuff

>>Thanks. You are quite right. To be honest I don't know much about this aspect.

if you or anyone can, please write about this.

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Saturn thanks for sharing this.learned a lot I should say.Thanks again.

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Brilliant work Saturn! would come very handy.. thanks man!

Zz

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The idea behind this document is to create a guide to buying a used car in Sri Lanka.

This is just my preliminary draft, and if it's useful I hope the experts here will add/edit it, and create a final detailed guide, which maybe could be posted somewhere in autolanka (if they think its useful)

<b>Buying a used vehicle in Sri Lanka</b>

(This applies to purchase of a used car regardless of the price/age, and applies to <b>all registered and 'reconditioned' vehicles.</b>)

1. tests you can perform:

================

Engine

====

<b>Before starting:</b>

- check the engine oil. Is it at the correct level?

Yes: OK/Owner topped up

No: Owner does not top up, engine burning oil, etc

Color of oil

- Light brown/colorless - engine is running reasonably good/recent service

- black - engine running bad/never serviced

Note: diesels tend to have dark/black engine oil

<b>After starting</b>

Did it start easily?

Yes: OK

No: problems in engine/battery/starter motor/tune/etc.

does the exhaust show visible smoke (white, black, bluish or grey smoke)?

this coud indicate engine problems such as oil burning, worn engine etc.

-- note: diesels do occationally smoke a bit, especially under acceleration

does it maintain operating temperature?

- listen to the engine in idle - do you hear clattering, rattling, or any odd sounds? they could indicate various problems ranging from bent valves to broken mounts?

note: diesels are somewhat louder than normal gasoline engines

<b>Test drive</b>

===========

Lets say you decide to go for a test drive..

.. Step out of the vehicle, and ask the owner to get it out of his driveway/car sale etc. As he does this observe the vehicle, and see if it smokes or struggles during the procedure.

Look at the place where the vehicle was parked. If there is visible engine oil/coolant, etc this could indicate problems in the vehicle. (water may be visible from the car's A/C, this is normal).

Ask the owner to drive you:

1. Along a rough road (so you can test the suspension)

2. On a good road, ask the owner to drive up to at least 56km/h (or whatever local speed limit) so you can see how the vehicle performs at high speed.

Turn OFF the radio and A/C and listen to the car for rattles/hums

Tip: a hum from front/rear may indicate need to replace wheel bearings (or what our people refer to as razors)

- Stop the car and ask the owner to back up a small hill, and observe the car exhaust for smoke, this is a good test of the clutch/etc.

Actual test drive:

- First make sure the vehicle has insurance and road licence which are valid. Ask to see them. Then test drive the vehicle very carefully. Make sure you have a good flat road and there is very little traffic. Remember its an unfamiliar vehicle and proceed with caution.

First, test the clutch and brakes. The clutch should engage neatly before releasing the pedal fully. If it engages very late, it could mean a blown clutch plate.

If there are clutch/brake problems, don't drive any further, and ask the owner to resume driving. And ask yourself whether you are sure you want to buy this car, from someone who couldnt even do basic maintenance.

<b>Reviewing the owner</b>

How the owner behaves during the test drive can give you a clue of how s/he uses the vehicle in real life. For example:

- Does he roll down the window and drive (even though there is an A/C) - this may indicate that the A/C rarely worked.

- Does he drive like a rally driver (in which case you can buy the car if you are willing to buy an extra engine, transmission and suspension)

How has s/he spent on the car? If he has spent a lot on cosmetics while ignoring real existing mechanical problems, then you should probably consider another car.

Is s/he straightforward and honest? Does what the owner says match up to what you see? For example, if the owner said the car had 2 owners in total and the log book copy shows 4 owners, then they could be lying about other things, and you should be cautious.

Sometimes owners make mistakes, or simply don't know an answer, but overall if the owner appears to be honest and straightforward, that is a positive sign.

<b>[Ask Questions</b>

As you review the car, ask questions from the owner. If you see anything odd, ask about it. If the owner is honest and straightforward, its a positive sign. Try to gauge how much of what the owner is telling is the truth. A good way to do this is to pretend you don't know something and ask a question.

<b>After the test drive</b>

============

After you return to the owners house/car sale, ask the owner to pop the hood and inspect the engine.

- check temperature management. The gauge inside the car should be half or less. Aside from the gage, the engine should be reasonably managing temperature and the fans should be working properly.

- Carefully tap the radiator cap with the tip of your finger. If it burns your finger off, the temperature management isnt good. Similarly the engine bay should not be boiling hot (unless it's a Nissan <img src="http://forum.autolanka.com/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/wink.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=";)" border="0" alt="wink.gif" /> )

<b>Physical inspection of vehicle</b>

=====================

1. Visual inspection:

simply look at the car - see if the lines are straight. Look at the paint. Uneven areas could indicate repainting.

- look at the wheel arches. Look at the brakes. Look under the car (front/rear) If possible, take the car to a service station and inspect the underneath. If this is not possible, try to look under the car and see what is visible at least - (carry a flashlight with you when you go to see the car).

- look for rust, damage, etc.

- look at the engine compartment. Are there odd wires and do things look as if they have been messed with?

Sometimes legitimate mods (e.g. alarm systems, aftermarket headlamps) require new wiring but if you see a mess inside, it probably means the wiring has been messed up by local mechanics in which case you should think carefully whether you really want this car.

- (If the vehicle is cold) carefully open the radiator cap - check if it contains coolant, and if there is any signs of oil (could indicate a head leak)

Look at the engine. If it has a slight layer of dust its OK. If it is shiny and has a layer of oil that means it has been washed at a service station. I prefer a car which has a normal slightly dusty engine vs one that has been washed and scrubbed to 'look' new.

- look for leaks in radiator pipes.

(with the engine off) remove the engine oil cover - if you can see nice clean silver metal with perhaps yellow brown color (engine oil) this is a positive sign. (note: diesels do tend to have dark/black engine interior, this refers to gasoline vehicles only).

- Look at the fluid levels of the various fluids (power steering, brake fluid, auto transmission if auto) - if they are not up to level it could indicate leaks or careless owner.

- if the vehicle is hot you may be able to open the radiator overflow tank (be careful) and check if he uses coolant.

Not using coolant indicates:

1. Owner is an idiot

2. Radiator has leak and owner is topping it up with ordinary water.

Either case, don't buy the car.

2. Tap test

gently tap the body of the car, with a fingernail (dont rap it loudly) as you walk around. Check the hood, front left and right side and back carefully, also doors (as these are the main accident prone areas).

Other general ideas:

- Ask the owner what maintenance was performed. If he tells you a list of things replaced/repaired, this is usually a good sign and means the owner took some effort to look after car.

- check the mileage? Mileage can be modified - but if it corresponds with the appearance of the vehicle then it could be accurate.

- ask for receipts particularly for the timing belt/clutch etc

HAS THE VEHICLE BEEN SERVICED/WASHED?

If the owner was so cheap that he couldn't service the vehicle before he sold it, then do you really want to buy a car from him/her?

*Exception*: Sometimes the owner may be actively using the car in which case it may be a bit dusty but all the same he/she should have washed/serviced/detailed the car within a few days of deciding to sell it.

<b>Now Consider the actual condition of the vehicle and make a list of all problems you encountered:</b>

Scenario 1: vehicle has major problems which can be fixed

=====================================

for example:

- Clutch plate gone.

- brakes not too good.

-minor suspension probs (e.g. weak shocks).

- minor engine probs (e.g. poor tune up).

Indicates that the seller was a cheap idiot (or typical local)

<b>Verdict:</b> Buy with caution, knowing there could be other existing problems, and repair BEFORE YOU DRIVE said vehicle.

Scenario 2: Vehicle has minor problems which can be fixed later

=========================================

- A/C not running cold enough.

- Minor dings, dents, scratches.

- Minor cosmetic issues.

Verdict: Buy the car, but set aside money to fix those problems later on.

Scenario 3: Vehicle has major problems which can't be fixed easily

===========================================

- Chassis problems (cracks/bent chassis)

- major engine problems (e.g. grey/white/black smoke, burning oil, head gasket leaks)

- major suspension/mechanical problems

- gearbox problems which would necessitate replacing gear box... so on.

Verdict: don't buy the car, unless you own a garage, have a million to spare, or are plain crazy.

<b>Other costs</b>

Aside from the above, there are a number of things you usually have to do, when purchasing ANY used car. These usually include:

- Insurance & road licence.

- 4 tires.

- full service/oil change/air filter etc.

- brake pads/etc

- New battery (if existing battery not too good).

- Timing belt (if close to 100k km's or multiples of that). Many people will say they replaced the belt, they could be lying. It's easier to spend 10k and replace it than to undergo a broken belt and engine rebuild. If they have replaced the belt, you can get a good garage to visually inspect it.

<b>signs of a good vehicle:</b>

- Vehicle is clean. (As in, the owner has washed, cleaned, and serviced it.)

- is in good mechanical condition (good engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, body)

- owner has focused on maintaining the mechanical condition of the vehicle

- Vehicle has been maintained properly and scheduled maintenance has been done, e.g. brakes, clutch, timing, etc have been replaced at the proper intervals as necessary.

- owner cares about vehicle, services regularly, engine oil is not dirty

- owner is upfront and honest about any flaws.

- owner uses a good garage for maintenance, and used original/quality components

Suggestion 1: To all the experts here, can you please add your comments/suggestions tips on buying a used car.

Suggestion 2: Would it be possible for Autolanka readers/Admins to set up a car pricing guide? This could be something updated regularly to show average true market values (like edmunds.com) and be useful to people looking to purchase a car.

If any Autolanka readers have suggestions on what they check when buying a used car, please add them here.

Update:

Top gear have some excellent tips here:

<a href="http://www.topgear.com/content/buyersguides/02/8.html" target="_blank">http://www.topgear.com/content/buyersguides/02/8.html</a>

this article really good good work very helpful thanks

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Well in most of the cars the mileage is resseted right,anyone knows a way to check if it had been resetted !!!!! :unsure::rolleyes::action-smiley-060:

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Well in most of the cars the mileage is resseted right,anyone knows a way to check if it had been resetted !!!!! :unsure::rolleyes::action-smiley-060:

Discussed before, you may search..

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this article really good good work very helpful thanks

Good Job Well done mate!

This article good for the buyers and the sellers as well, at least genuine sellers could make sure that vehicles are ready as per the guide line stated.

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with A/C the windscreen is misting up at night..pls give advice to avoid misting..thank you.

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