Menu Close

Things to know before buying used cars in nigeria

Share with friends

I think is worth noting to take into consideration some factors before buying used car in nigeria. Today I will be sharing vital information on things you must know and do when buying a used car in Nigeria, and where to get reliable used cars in Nigeria.


Things You need to know before buying a used car in nigeria


It’s common knowledge that having your own personal car is more than necessary, especially if you spend a significant fraction of your day in-transit. This explains why most Nigerians try to get a car as soon as they can afford it. Who doesn’t like to cruise around in a comfortable vehicle rather than hopping from one rickety commercial vehicle to another?
However, the true fact in Nigeria is that brand new vehicles are far beyond what majority of people can afford. And that’s why the country is a huge market for used vehicles of virtually all brands. For example, a brand new Toyota Camry 2017 costs around N20,000,000, while a used Toyota Camry released about 5 to 7 years earlier can be gotten for a third or quarter of that price. So, it’s just expectable that the average Nigerian would rather go for used cars.

Types of used car in nigeria

Not all used cars in Nigeria are the same in terms of usage history. And based on this factor, used cars in Nigeria can be broadly classified into two broad categories: FOREIGN USED (popular known as “tokunbo”) and LOCALLY USED CARS.
In simpler terms, a foreign used or tokunbo vehicle is one that was used abroad before being shipped to Nigeria, while a Nigeria used vehicle is one that has been used here in Nigeria, regardless of whether it was bought brand new or as tokunbo. (So, if we expand that, we’d be right to say locally used vehicles can be further classified into those bought as brand new here in Nigeria or those bought as foreign used).
It is commonly believed that foreign used vehicles are better than locally used ones. And this belief is true for obvious reasons. Cars bought and used in developed countries are more than likely to be well maintained and taken care of. And they’re unlikely to come with suspension problems and other issues that have to do with bad roads and rough terrains. Even if it has had faults in the past, you can trust that a foreign used vehicle would have been fixed by a seasoned expert who won’t try to cut corners. We are not saying all foreign used vehicles can be trusted, but most of them will give you good value for your money.
As for locally used vehicles, buying them is more like a game of dice. Some locally used vehicles have been well maintained with no faults, driven on good roads most of the time, and probably bought brand new or slightly used by a foreign owner. If you’re fortunate to come across such, then it’s as good as buying a tokunbo. In fact, such a car could be far better than many foreign used vehicles out there. On the other hand, some locally used vehicles have been poorly maintained, driven carelessly on bad roads and rough terrains for years, and ignored whenever a “minor” fault comes up. Such vehicles are unlikely to last long. Buy one now, and you’ll start having one issue after the other within few months.
For obvious reasons, tokunbo cars are more expensive than their locally used counterparts. A locally used car typically costs between 50 percent and 80 percent of the price of its tokunbo equivalent, depending on how long it’s been used in Nigeria for, whether it has faults or not, and how desperately the buyer is to sell it off.
With the above in mind, let’s now look at the steps involved in buying a used car in Nigeria.

ALSO READ 5 banks in nigeria withe the highest savings interest rate

Step-by-step guide on how to buy a used car in nigeria


Buying a used car in Nigeria is like choosing a wife. You can either end up with either an option that you’ll forever be glad you chose or an option that will always make you regret bitterly each time you think about it. So, you need to tread carefully, avoid making decisions in haste, and don’t ever rush at an offer because it’s cheaper. The cheapest option is usually not a good option!
Here are the steps you should follow when buying a used car in Nigeria.

  1. Know your needs
    Your first step towards buying a car, used or new, is to understand your needs and preferences, and what you expect to get from the car. If all you need is a small car to take you to your office and back every day, you should be fine with a small hatchback (e.g. Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Matrix). If you have a large family that you take around town frequently, then you’d be better off with a wagon-style family vehicle (e.g. Toyota Sienna or Nissan Quest) or an SUV with third-row seats.
    If the roads around your vicinity are really bad, then you should go for an SUV (e.g. Toyota Highlander, Toyota RAV4, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Xterra, etc.), since such cars have good ground clearance and rugged suspension systems. And if all you want is a car that has enough space for heavy goods, consider getting a truck-like vehicle (e.g. Toyota Hilux).
    The above are just examples, and needs vary from individual to individual. So, you need to figure out what you really expect to get from the kind of car you want to buy.
    In addition, you should decide what features you want in your car. This will also help you when narrowing down your options. Are you a stickler for badass sound systems? Then you should consider a vehicle loaded with one. If you can’t bear with a car that lacks a rear-view camera, be sure to get one that comes with it. Are you still a fan of manual transmission? Then go for a car that comes with one.
  2. Set your budget
    Your ability to get a used car of your choice will depend on whether you can afford it or not. So, you need to set a realistic budget when buying a used car in Nigeria. And more importantly, be sure to pen down options that fall within your budget.
    Imagine someone having just N2 million (which can hardly get a good foreign-used sedan) who wants to buy a Lexus RX 330 or a Toyota RAV 4 2006 or newer! You can’t even get the Nigerian used units of those cars for that price let alone foreign used ones.
    So, when you’re setting your budget, you must be realistic. If your choice car costs more than your budget, you can either increase your budget or opt for cheaper options.
  3. Short-list your “candidates”
    After understanding your needs and setting your budget, you’d have gotten a clear picture of what type of car you want and which cars exactly would be suitable for you. Your next step is to list out your options.
    For example, if you’re going for a sedan and would prefer German cars, then you can list the likes of Volkswagen Passat or Jetta, Audi A4, Mercedes Benz C-Class, and any of the BMW sedans. Similarly, if you prefer Japanese cars because they’re cheaper and much easier to maintain, your list would include Toyota Camry, Corolla, or Avensis; Honda Accord; Mitsubishi Galant, or a sedans by Nissan.
  4. Research
    After short-listing your possible candidates, your next step is to find out more about each of them. Your aim here is to know which ones to retain on your list or which ones to drop from it.
    Your best references during research are people who are using or have used the vehicles on your list. They will tell you their experience with each car and what you should expect from it. Online reviews are also reliable, but most reviews you’ll find online were left by foreign users, not Nigerians. To get first-hand information from Nigerians, you can visit a forum like Nairaland , and ask for people opinion on each car. You’ll get lots of helpful responses.
    During your research, you’ll be able to know which options on your list are more durable, which ones are expensive to maintain, and the common problems that each one do come down with. These and other valuable pieces of information will help you narrow down your list to just 2 or 3 options. Only few things could be more disastrous than going to the market with no specific options in mind.
  5. Hit the market and inspect like crazy!
    Whether you’re buying your car from an individual or in a large car market, the golden rule is, “Inspect, inspect, and inspect!” Bear in mind that there’s much more to a car than clean looks. Many flawless-looking cars have terrible faults hidden within them, so you need to be very careful.
    There’s a long list of things you need to check, and we cannot exhaust everything here. But in summary, test every electronic and automatic component in the car to ensure they’re all working perfectly. Also, test-drive the car over a good distance and listen hard for strange sounds from the engine, transmission or other sources. Also check the hood thoroughly for shady connections. And be sure that the body paint isn’t being patched anywhere. Don’t ever get tempted to overlook any fault unless you really understand its consequences and the cost of fixing it. And don’t be in a rush to make a choice.
    In fact, your best bet is to go for the inspection with a seasoned auto mechanic, unless you’re one yourself. If possible, you can go with two or even more. It’s better to pay N20,000 for inspection and end up with a good choice than making the wrong choice and spending hundreds of thousands of naira on repairs shortly after. It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying a Nigerian used or foreign used vehicle; thorough inspection is a must!
  6. Complete necessary paperwork
    Be sure to get all the necessary papers for your car. If the dealer claims to have paid full customs duty, visit the nearest customs office to verify yourself. In addition, be sure to collect the receipt of purchase as well as all other necessary documents related to ownership of the car. You sure don’t want to be harassed continuously by customs officers and other law enforcement agents.
  7. Check the VIN A VIN or a vehicle identification number is a seventeen digit sequence(ISO-377 that form 17 units of digits and letters- this for Europe manufacturer) that is stamped into the chassis of a car. This serves as an identification code and is a must when registering a vehicle. Each and every car on the road has a unique number, which is sometimes referred to as the body number. VIN numbers are all different and you will never come across vehicles with the same vin number stamped on it. This is also the reason it is referred to as a cars DNA, because with this number you can identify the exact model and details registered under it. It is very important to check car vin because it is the best and safest way of figuring out the accurate identity of the car. Vehicle registration companies and car manufacturers always carry databases with these numbers as it enables them to validate and identify the car correctly, and check if the car has not been reported on crime cases or stolen. Click here to check vehicle VIN without spending a dime. In addition to the important of vehicle VIN is that, VIN is useful in detecting if the car you intent to buy has been involved in road accident, to some extent VIN reveals the level of the car damages

Where to buy used cars in Nigeria

  • The Berger (Apapa) Auto Market: This is the largest market in Nigeria for used cars. In this market, you’ll find more-than-enough options of your choice cars to choose from. Of course, you must have set your budget for tokunbo cars.
  • Local Car Stands/markets: You can equally walk into the nearest car stand or market to make your choice. But you’ll have limited choices compared to what obtains with the Berger market.
  • Individual Car Dealers: If you come across individuals looking to sell exactly the type of car you want, you can easily approach them to seal a deal. It goes without saying that you have just one option to consider, which might be dangerous. But if a Nigerian used car is what you have in mind, this is a cool option.
  • Online Car Listing Sites: More and more Nigerians are now getting their choice cars by checking online car listing sites (e.g. Cheki.com.ng) and classified ad sites like Jiji.ng. On these platforms, you’ll find multiple options of your choice cars — locally used and foreign used.

Final words, make sure you do your homework well before buying used car because majority of these used car are refurblished cars.
Had experience before buying or using used car? Comment below


Share with friends

1 Comment

  1. Adesida Oluwasegun

    Wonderful piece of information and thanks so much for it.

    It is also very important car/vehicle buyers get comprehensive VIN report of anyone they are interested in.

    One could get VIN report from carfax and/or autocheck. Betterstill, one could get it from independent providers in Nigeria for as low as N2,000.

Leave a Reply

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

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial