Experiences, Learnings, Realizations

What is it like having a used (2nd hand) car – A long-term experience

The year was 2018 when I bought my first car from my elementary classmate who has a car buy-and-sell business. It is a used (second-hand) Hyundai EON 2013 model; an already five-year-old car when I bought it.

I’m actually the 3rd owner of the car since it was sold by the original owner after 3 years of use, then the 2nd owner used it for 2 years, then sell it to me. When I checked the car, I actually doesn’t know that much about cars, I just checked the driving performance, physical appearance, and other basics that can be performed by someone like me who doesn’t know that much about how to properly check a car. I basically trusted my former classmate that the car is in good condition.

This is what my car looks like when I bought it. First car wash 🙂

I chose to buy a compact sedan because number 1, it is economical in terms of fuel consumption and maintenance cost; number 2, I only have a small family and the streets in our place are narrow that having a bigger car is quite a challenge, especially that I’m just new in driving during that time.

In the first 6 months, I didn’t experience any problems, just scratches and minor dents due to me being a newbie driver. My car brings me and my family from point A to point B without a problem.

The paint starts to wear off. And tada! The bumper is originally black in color.

After 6 months, It seems the car was repainted before it was sold to me. The paint starts to wear off on the bumper side both front and back, and it seems the bumpers’ original color is black.

I got my car repainted, then fix the scratches and dents. I have the bumper colored black to match the original color. So that in case the paint wears off again, it will not be too obvious.

Painted the bumpers black.

Then, more problems start to show up. The radiator fan stops working which eventually damages the air condition system. Fortunately, I didn’t prolong the damage, I brought it to the nearest car repair shop and have my radiator fan fixed, then brought it to a well-known car aircon repair shop in our area to fix the air condition system. It doesn’t cost me so much. That is the importance of having any damage or problem to be fixed as soon as possible to avoid further damage. I also got the tires replaced as advised by the mechanic. Luckily, the tire is cheap for this kind of car. I bought a Goodyear brand, which is well-known in terms of quality.

After a few months, a new problem appeared, and that is what costs me much. The EPS (electronic power steering) becomes problematic, the steering wheel turns to the left or right if the speed reaches at least 60 kph. The first symptom was the steering wheel becomes too hard to turn. Luckily, I was turning down a street and it is very late at night, so my car is moving slowly, and not many vehicles and people in the area. After that, my car started to suddenly turn to the left or right every time I reaches at least 60 kph.

I brought my car to different car repair shops, and it seems no one can fix it. They do a lot of trial and error which costs me a lot but still not able to fix the problem. They changed the car battery, changed the EPS module, the steering motor, the rack and pinion, and multiple wheel alignments, and they even changed the timing belt and spark plugs because they discovered that it should be replaced. One repair shop which I will never recommend (just found them on Facebook) even damages the shock absorber that I had to ask a different car mechanic (recommended by my cousin) to replace. I think, all in all, it costs me 40,000 pesos and the problem is still not fixed.

I’m already considering selling the car at a low price because of the problem. I’m also considering selling it in surplus for parts-out just in case no one wants to buy my car. But since it will be hard to sell a problematic car, and I cannot afford that someone might get injured or die because of the faulty car, I decided to bring it directly to the Hyundai service center for the last time. I thought they only cater to brand new cars, but I discovered that any models are welcome even from a different brand (someone brought a Ford Ecosport when I visited the service center). They replaced the whole steering assembly which took me 2 weeks of waiting because they need to order the parts overseas. It costs me 60,000 pesos which is more expensive, but at least, the problem is fixed, and they offered a 1-year warranty just in case the problem still occurs. Plus, the parts are brand new (though I’m not really sure, hehehe!).

The car was fixed in March 2020, exactly when the pandemic started. It is now the 2nd half of 2022, I didn’t experience any major problems since then, only replaced the faulty brake lights.

If you’re going to ask me if it is worth it to buy a second-hand car, based on my experience, I think it is worth it. When I totaled the cost of my car when I purchased it plus the repair costs, it is still lower compared to the SRP (suggested retail price) of the car. So what more if we compare it to the price of a brand new car financed by a bank that has interest on top.

Yes, there are headaches due to the repairs that need to be done, but when buying a used car, it is already expected, and having a brand new car doesn’t mean you’re exempted from damages. Maybe if I know how to check a car properly, or have someone with me to do it, maybe I got a car in better condition than what I got. But to be honest, it is not really that bad, repairing an EPS is just challenging to car mechanics because it involves working on the car’s computer. For faulty electronics, better to bring them to the manufacturer’s service center. What I realize is that, in buying a used car, it is better to have a car with just basic features. Avoid those with fancy features that require sensors, computers, etc. Go to a car with manual transmission (if you know how to drive one) because they are easier and cheaper to repair. My car is very basic, it just happens that the power steering is electronic, and not the traditional hydraulic one.

So here is my list of recommendations when buying a used car:

  • Make sure you know how to check a car, or at least bring someone that can check the car for you.
  • Buy a simple car as much as possible. Electronic parts are hard to repair and expensive to replace. The more features a car has the more features that need to be repaired eventually.
  • Make sure you have extra cash for repairs. You might get the car in good condition, but it will only take you a few months or a year for the problems to start appearing.
  • Be prepared for maintenance costs. For a used car, I recommend not to be too frugal. The car is already aged, it should be taken with extra care. Use quality fuel and oils.
  • Buy a well-known car brand for parts availability.

Right now, my wife and I are planning to buy a bigger car since we’re already planning to have another child, and we are the only ones that have a car on both sides of the family. But we are more inclined on buying another used car instead of a brand new one since we found it more practical and economical. Though this time, we are considering buying a car with automatic transmission so that my wife can drive it. The budget is tight because of the high inflation rate and we just bought a house, but hopefully, if God allows, we can have another one in the near future.

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