What is Salvage title? Buyer Tips

Buying a Used Car in Nigeria: What Are The Next Steps After Clearing?

By Femi Amisu Updated: 02/24/2021 Posted: 10/19/2018

Congratulations on buying your car through Auto Auction Mall … and at almost 40% less too! Now, what are the next steps after clearing?

Your agent has just helped you clear your car from Tin Can and you’re driving home. Being your first car, you’ve had many friends talk to you about the next steps as per registration and documentation.

Apparently, you can’t just buy a car and start driving the next day. Unless of course, you’re willing to declare happy hour at the LASTMA or FRSC office.  So what are the next steps after clearing?

1. Documentation

After clearing and  before you drive on Nigerian roads, there are a few key steps that must be taken. The absolute first step is documentation. Filing the proper paperwork ensures you don’t find yourself on the wrong side of the authorities. There are at least six documents you must have before you can start cruising your newly purchased car.

  • Driver’s License

This certifies that you are competent to drive on Nigerian roads. It also carries vital identification information about you for a variety of purposes. You’d have to undergo a driving test to get this and pay the necessary fees at the closest FRSC office. This process can take as little as two weeks to as long as three months.

It is vital you go to the proper sources to procure your license so you avoid scams. Fake licenses would ultimately put you in trouble with the authorities.  Don’t be discouraged by the long processing time as you would be issued a temporary license during the waiting period.

  • Vehicle License

Getting your vehicle registered is another crucial step that must be done as soon as your vehicle is cleared… that is of course if you wish to start driving.  

You can get this by applying for it on the FRSC website or approaching the state licensing offices usually around or in the state government secretariats. As with your driver’s license, be careful as there are frauds that are on the ready to swindle unsuspecting people.

  • Certificate of Roadworthiness

Many car owners, either forget to process this paperwork or ignore it completely… until they end up paying heavy FRSC fines that is.

This document certifies that your vehicle is safe to be driven on the Nigerian roads. For commercial vehicles, renewal is required every six months. For older vehicles, renewal is only required once in a year.

  • Car Insurance

Auto insurance or insurance certificate is a document that guarantees that the vehicle has financial protection for any physical damage. This insurance covers cars, trucks, and motorcycles. The insurance is granted by the National Insurance Commission. As with other documentation, avoid fake, improperly filed auto insurance documentation. The road authorities in recent times have clamped down heavily on fake insurance paperwork holders. Not to worry though, there are publicly accessible e-avenues for the average Nigerian car owner to verify this. Visit Nigerian Insurance Industry Database Portal to verify yours.

  • Proof of Ownership

This is another important document that must not be left out. It is issued by the Vehicle Inspection Office.

  • Learner’s Permit

These are for prospective and current car owners who are just learning how to drive. They are not eligible for a driver’s license yet. This will allow you to drive on the roads. Also, your car will carry the popular red “L” letter tag to alert more experienced drivers that you are still learning.

This alerts them to be cautious and drive a little more carefully around you. To use the learner’s permit, however, the law requires that you have a licensed driver/instructor in the vehicle with you at all times.

Further Reading

  1. Maintaining Your Car: Five Key Things To Consider When Servicing Your Car 
  2. Buying The Perfect Car: Top 5 Cars Suited For Nigerian Roads 
  3. Everything You Need to Know about Buying Used Cars 
  4. Importing Used and Salvage Vehicles From The United States To Nigeria 

2. Engine Check and Change of Oil

Buying a used car requires due diligence and close attention to oil and fluid conditions and levels in the car. As an unspoken rule, it is safer for your pockets and your car engine to do a general oil and fluid change before you start using your car.  

Regardless of what the car inspectors say or descriptions provided along with the car on Auto Auction Mall, it is essential that you double check that everything is right. Hire an auto mechanic to conduct a proper inspection of the engine. As for the oil, it’s hard to tell when it was last changed, if it’s terrible, or if it’s got any left. So for the sake of all the moving parts of the car, ensure that you change the engine oil.  

3. Tyres

Tyres are the legs of your vehicle. However, those legs come with an expiry date. Tyres usually expire four years after the date of manufacture and failure to change your tyres after it expires, will put you at risk of having fatal accidents caused by a blow-out. This is why the FRSC continually emphasizes the need to check your tyres. It is possible that you have bought a new car whose tyres are just about to expire, for the sake of safety, check your tyres today.

The date of manufacture is usually on the body of the tyre and is easy to find. It is a four-digit number in which the first two signify the week in the year, and the last two signify the year. For instance, 1618 signifies the 16th week, (last week of April) in 2018. This means that the tyres will expire on the 16th week of 2022.

Please note that the numbers stand on their own and are not attached to any alphabets. It is imperative that this inspection is carried out, both for safety reasons and to avoid being harassed by the authorities.

The condition of use also determines how often your tyres should be changed to avoid costly and fatal incidents such as tyre blowouts. Since there is no way to verify this, a safer approach is to do a full change of your tyres. It might cost a buck but the confidence of driving on new tyres whose condition you can vouch for far outweighs the risk and dangers that come with the guessing game you’d have to play with tyres whose conditions you’re unsure of.

4. Bodywork and Repair

Depending on the level of damage, if you bought a salvaged vehicle, you will almost always need to fix it before you can start using it on the road. Buying salvage title cars is not always a bad experience as most Nigerians think, it ultimately depends on the purpose for which you need it.

In some cases, salvage title cars may be cars with just body dents,  damages, or mechanical faults that the insurance and auction houses deem to costly to fix and as such are willing to accept a lower price. Salvage titled cars are also badly damaged cars that still have parts that can still be useful as spare parts.

You may be wondering why people would buy obviously damaged cars but they do have their benefits and depending on purpose can be invaluable. First, the most obvious reason is the overly affordable price. Cars that have some sort of damage or another are usually sold at a really low price and most times, are auctioned, just like it’s done at AAM.

Secondly, some of these cars aren’t really that bad, in fact, their engines are usually still intact. It just turns out the car might have been in a minor accident that damaged the body parts and the insurance company felt it would be better to sell it off and recover some money instead of spending some to fix it.

Final Steps

Whether new or used, most of the steps outlined above are essentials if you want to drive your car with no fines and run-ins with the authorities. What is common to all the steps above is that you do due diligence and avoid falling into the hands of fraudsters and fake artists. Go straight into their offices and where appropriate ensure you are speaking with someone behind a desk in a publicly recognized office.

It is also usually to have to part with a little more than your budget or that the official website of these licensing bodies says. Sad as it may be, it is the usual occurrence in Nigeria if you wish to drive your car with zero hassles.

Buy used cars at a fraction of their retail price from Auto Auction Mall today.