I love cars, which is an understatement. Growing up, I spent more time browsing cars than visiting dubious websites where boys think they will learn to become men. And, in the course of time, I have had a few automobile disasters teaching me how to make mistakes of many interesting kinds. That makes me an expert in the eyes of people who call me friend, family, and “that-office-guy-who keeps-talking-about-cars”. They hunt me down when they want to buy a car and I desperately convince them otherwise.
The first advice for people wanting to buy a used car in Bangladesh: don’t. Don’t buy a car, period. Simply do not. People buy cars for two reasons: to appear cool on Instagram or to actually move from place to place. Do we move? No, because our roads are shrinking because the footpaths are increasing to make money for construction contractors who then buy very nice and expensive cars.
Black isn’t the answer
But if you really must buy something used, buy the simplest, easiest to run car you can. Does not matter if it is pink or three shades of diarrhoea. Does not matter if it even looks like diarrhoea as long as it is in good shape, is easy to fix, and does not smell like aforementioned diarrhoea. If you have a preconceived notion in your mind, such as wanting a black car because cool guys in movies drive black cars, then you will end up ignoring good, simple old cars. Used car dealers are a particular race of people whose morals are slightly above that of the sticky stuff you find under newspaper reporters’ chairs. Used car dealers know you want black and they will paint nasty cars black. This way, all you will see is the shiny black reflection of your innermost desires, which is to be popular like Aquaman visiting a women’s college.
There is no perfect used car
What can go wrong must go wrong as soon as it is yours. A used old car comes with baggage much like a new Taylor Swift song about her last relationship. All minus the soothing rhymes. No one sells a perfectly good used car. It is easier to find an honest politician.
There are always some problems waiting to pounce on you. Know that you will need to fix things down the line. Sellers love to advertise how their car is just “Buy and Drive”, meaning trouble-free ownership. It is like saying owning a cat is the most stress-free experience ever. Cats take over your life if you attempt to love them.
Beware the 3 Fs
Watch out for fake leather, fungus, and flames. When looking at used cars, try to see what lies beneath that nasty rubbery fake leather that everybody loves to pretend is the real thing. It looks cheap and often hides nastiness beneath, especially under the carpets. Which brings us to fungus.
Breathing in a fungus-filled environment is literally deadly. If it smells even for a second like what you imagine to be someone’s only favourite underwear, avoid at all cost. We live in a damp, often waterlogged country. How much do you want to bet that cars have NOT had sewage water seep inside especially if you are buying a car that was used in Bashundhara, Gulshan, and Mirpur?
And finally, watch out for flames. It is a possibility and it will not hurt to carry several fire extinguishers at all times. It will help during that very first year when you have calculated all the taxes, repair bills, and chauffeur costs and suddenly your head catches on fire. Ride sharing everyday might just be cheaper.
Ehsanur Raza Ronny is a confused dad, all round car guy, model car builder and cartoonist. He is also Editor automobiles), Bytes (technology) and Next Step (career) for The Daily Star.