A busy weekend, part 1

The thing about blogging, like journal writing, is that if you let yourself skip a day, you’ll end up skipping more. I decided, I’d had enough of procrastinating. To give me my due, I did have a busy weekend. We bought a pair of standing lamps, a car, made some new friends and discovered that a dream sofa could cost about the same as the car we bought.

On Saturday, we purchased a Maruti Suzuki Swift Zxi (2009). We believe we got a good deal on it. I’d been searching for nearly 3-4 weeks and I got the lead for this deal from an ad the seller had put up in the newspaper. The process of purchasing it was an interesting experience in itself, starting with an appointment I made with him to view the car. The seller, I’ll call him AJ, wanted to dispose of his 2009 Zxi variant which had 17,000 kms on the dial. We met at Nehru Place, and in a few minutes, I’d decided that it fit our needs. The only things that remained to be seen were its condition and the price.

Being green at buying second hand cars, I committed a few goofs. First, I wanted a mechanic to figure out the issues. I went to Kotla Mubarakpur, where there are a few roadside garages, to find one. The guy at the first shop said, yeah, we can help you ascertain if there are any issues. We need 2,000 Rs. The amount was more than I’d expected, so I asked them to clarify what services would be included. That was like pulling a tooth. I had to ask a million questions before it made sense. They were going to the check the car for mechanical, electrical and accidental damage. For electronics, they had a scanner that would give a clear reading about the car’s complete service record. Awesome, I figured. I called up AJ. He laughed and flatly refused to bring his car in.

As it turns out, that first bunch was scamming me. They knew that no one would ever bring in their car for a scan. As AJ taunted, “Ask them how many sellers have brought their cars in?” None as it turned out. The way it works is that you drag a mechanic along, who checks out the car for subtle hints of accidental damage to the chassis, and ascertains the state of the engine with a visual under the hood inspection and a spin around the block. So, walking back to Kotla, red-faced, I decided that I’d find another mechanic. In two minutes, at half the price, I had two guys in tow. AJ was a badass and I’d have to have some badasses with me. They were overcharging me, for sure, but I figured, since I was going to pay nearly 400,000 Rs for a car, might as well pay 1,000 Rs. to ensure that it’s not a lemon.

I rang AJ when we arrived. He was a cooperative, but pugnacious and I was getting annoyed. After a few barbs from him, I turned and snapped at him. I might’ve been a first time buyer, but hey no one’s born an expert. I was willing to play by his rules, but I wouldn’t take any lip from him. I wanted to learn, so I asked him what to watch out for. What he did tell me was useful and from my later discussion with the mechanics, I gleaned the following:

  1. 99% of newspaper ads are fake. It’s rarely owners who put them. Usually it’ll be an broker who tries to snare people this way. The easiest way to check this is to look at the name & address listed on the registration card and cross check it with the seller
  2. Have a look at the car’s service record, especially if you suspect the meter readings. With every check you’ll find the mileage recorded. Any discrepancies there will be telling
  3. Check for wear on the steering wheel, the plastic knobs and especially the pedals. The older the car, and the heavier the use, the more worn out they’ll be
  4. Tires. Check for normal wear and note the year. Original car tires will be carry the same manufacturing year as the car
  5. Look at all the insurance documents and renewals. If the insurance has not been renewed at any time, that makes for an excellent bargaining point
  6. A seller may try and dupe someone by not making an insurance claim for some damages. The best way to check is to ensure that the car has been serviced recently, and to double check ask an experienced mechanic along

This helps you decide if you want the car and how much to offer for it. According to the mechanic I had along, one must always be a bit disdainful of the car’s worth and offer at least 30-40k lower than the estimated price one has in mind. My mechanics were worth the money. They cleared the car and said it was a good buy, AJ was genuine and it was no scam. They suggested I pitch for 3.5 or 3.4 Lakh.

Here came the second goof. I didn’t know how to buy the damn car! What was the process. Lucky for me AJ wasn’t discouraged by my ignorance. He said there was a ready kit available in the market for about 30 to 50 Rs. and it had all the necessary bits of documentation. Generally these documents would include the following:

  • For the Buyer
    • A cash receipt (proof of purchase)
    • Form 29 and Form 30 (Notice of sale and  report of sale) with duplicates
    • An insurance transfer letter (addressed to the insurance company)
  • For the Seller
    • A delivery receipt with the purchaser’s name and address with ID proof attached. Signatures of both parties

In addition the buyer must collect the service record, the registration card and any insurance related documents. Generally, you should also note that you have the spare tire, a tool kit for changing the same and a medical kit.

So, thankfully, with AJ’s help I was able to complete all these tasks and on Saturday afternoon, we collected the Swift and later that evening went for our first spin to Hauz Khas village where we had dinner with friends at Yeti. The food was good, but the company was better and after dinner we dragged them all home for coffee and drinks, wrapping up our gathering around 1 am! That’s the latest I’ve hung out in Delhi with anyone, this far.

On Sunday, predictably we were slow to rise… to be continued.

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