steps in buying a second hand car

Steps in buying a second hand car Philippines, what we did?

Steps in buying a second hand car – Philippines, what we did?

Buying a car in the Philippines is not a simple decision, there is some factor that needs to consider, top of it is the budget. Car purchase could be one of the most expensive purchases of an individual, that is why there are some having a hard time deciding between these two options.

It is either taking a loan for a brand-new car or buy for a second-hand vehicle.

However, these two options will give you different benefits. Having a brand-new car will definitely be a lesser headache, its condition will be guaranteed smooth for 5 years. In addition, the maintenance required might be covered by insurance for a specific year of usage. Sounds that this option is the most suitable one. Who would even not want to have a brand-new vehicle! but remember, this comes with a tag, a very expensive tag. The amount that you will need to pursue paying for at least 5 years. If this is acceptable and affordable for you this might be your chosen option.

On the other hand, buying a second-hand car will give you financial freedom, you will not be committed to years of debt. But you need to face some complications for unexpected repair and expenses because you are not sure if the problems that the seller informs are the only real issue of it or there is some major damage.

Having our own car in the Philippines is one of our priority rather than building our house with a few practical reasons. So while we are preparing our exit from UAE we already set a budget for our car expenses.

Despite left and right encouraging offer for a brand new car, hubby and I decided to buy a second-hand vehicle.

Our number one reason is we don’t want to take a debt, in our situation spending so much on car is impractical especially that our work got affected by the COVID Pandemic. We are not even sure of our plans here in the Philippines, like if we will be looking for a new job or we will take the chance of putting up a small business. Even the place that we will stay in we are not yet sure.

The option we took will save us from financial burdens later on.

But in case you will do like what we did in buying a second-hand car make sure you will bring a person who knows how to check the car condition.

Few weeks after we reach home and finishing the quarantine protocol we started checking cars option and finalize it.

Let me share with you the steps we did.


-Steps in buying a second hand car  – Steps in buying a second hand car – Steps in buying a second hand car –


We chose to buy directly from the seller to avoid the agency fees. But this option requires us to exert time and effort in communicating with the seller. Joining a second-hand car group seller from Facebook is helpful. Every day the group has a bunch of newly available car lists from the lowest, mid and new model

I suggest making a list of your chosen few cars will be ideal, from many choices you can narrow down your options based on the price and model, once you have the top choices you can then contact the seller.

 Communicate with the seller

Once you are done with the list, this is the time to approach the seller. This part is a bit challenging as most of the seller style in dealing with inquirers is a bit sarcastic. Ready yourself in dealing with some unapproachable person, there are some who make you feel as if you are begging their favor for a good response. Don’t be surprised if you will see crazy instructions like “basa muna wag bobo / read first don’t be stupid” I was wondering when seeing these words and thinking if this attitude is part of the Pinoy new normal.

But don’t lose hope, you can still encounter a professional person that is worth and nice to deal with, just be calm and patient.


What to ask during your conversation

  • Car Year model – Verify the year model, in my experience, there are some who are not paying attention to it. The advertised year model is different from the real one. In my observation, they are purposely doing it to attract inquirers, to avoid wasting time check this part carefully. Then you can decide if their offer is acceptable for you before proceeding with further communication
  • Request for a few photos – ask the seller if they can send you more photos of the car at all angles to set your expectations. Based on the car conditions in the photo you can decide if you still want to check it personally.
  • Reason for selling – they may not tell you the real reason, but it is still worth asking.
  • Car issues – based on their answer you can assess as early as possible if the offered price is worthy to check personally.
  • OR/CR is with them? Better to ask if this is ready.  One of my experiences, when I finally decide on my chosen car and agreed with the seller price, we set the date when we will finalize the payment and car registration. On the day that we are about to meet in LTO office, he suddenly asks me if I can wait as they are looking for one of the documents.
    Seriously? Because of the delay, our transaction didn’t push through.
Meet Up

Once you are done with the initial stage in communication, you can set a meetup. It is better to do it day time for safety and to ensure to see the car conditions clearer.

Meeting up in public places like banks or mall parking lot is safer. In case the seller prefer you check the car at their home, again make sure to do it during day time. And, don’t bring big cash during the first time meeting.

Never hurridly decide to give down payment unless you are sure you are satisfied with the car condition. Don’t let the owner pressure you if asking for the down payment on the spot of the car checking. The amount you will payout is not a simple amount, you need to be careful. If the seller doesn’t accept your terms it is not your loss. You can still look for another car for sale anywhere and maybe this time the seller is more reasonable. It is better to start the search again than lose the reservation fee in case you change your mind.

And a reminder, the top, and very important rule is to never ever buy the car or do a down payment without seeing it personally.

What to check during the meetup

  • Check the car body exterior, if there are some scratches or dents. Assess if that is acceptable with the price of the seller, consider the amount you will be spending in fixing this if ever.
  • If the vehicle you are planning to buy is an older model, check if there is rust. You need to make sure none of those will cause a major problem
  • We need to avoid buying a car with a major/large accident history. You can do that by checking the color variation on the vehicle. If there are color differences this might be a sign of a large accident
  • Check if there is unusual welding, open the trunks and the door and check if there is welding done after the car purchased. We need to avoid buying a car with major structural repair as it can compromise the safety

Additionally, since we are aware that the Philippines is prone to storm and flood, check if the car has a flood history by;

  • Check the stain around the seats, carpets, and fabric that looks like flood signs.
  • by checking for signs of moisture, molds, or water collection. Pull back the carpet protector and other parts of the bottom of the car interior

Engine Check;

  • make sure there isn’t any obvious sign of oil leakage.
  • Listen to engine noise closely, check if the sounds are normal. And pay attention to how fast the engine turns on. If there is a delay there might be an issue
  • Make sure there is no visible sign of damage, rust when you open the hood
  • Oil level, make sure that is not too low.
  • Timing belt condition
  • Check the belts within the engine to ensure there are no cracks or signs of corrosion

Test Drive

This is one of the major parts when inspecting a car. With this, you can feel the car’s condition at your hand.

What to consider:

  • Acceleration
  • Braking system
  • All lights
  • Aircondition
  • Radio
  • Indicators
  • Car condition when driving on a bumpy road
  • If the odometer mileage is correct
  • All glass condition
  • Tires condition

Like what I mentioned, it is highly suggested to bring your trusted mechanic when checking for a car, so they can check the car condition deeply. Especially if your knowledge on this part is limited. The mechanic’s input might help you to decide if you want to buy that car.

Realistically, a perfect car condition shouldn’t be expected in a second-hand vehicle, that is unfair! The aim is to be sure at least that there is no major issue that will cause a huge amount for repair. Base on your inspection with the mechanic help, you can assess if the car value is worthy to buy or not.

In my case, the last car we checked pass to our budget and expectation. We decided to buy it.

Documentation Process

I didn’t know here in the Philippines the car’s ownership transfer is not the same as what we use to do abroad. I was surprised that in the Deed of Sale it looks that we are now the second owner despite not, in reality, we are now in the third-hand. Looks weird but that is the practice here.

The seller and I went to the public notary to do the stamping, requirements are;

  • Original copy of Certificate of Vehicle Registration (CR)
  • Original receipt of registration (OR)
  • LTO Plate number (Original)
  • Notarized Deed of sale
  • valid ID of the seller/owner and buyer

The cost of notary depends on the declared car selling price, this will be paid by the seller.

After the process from the notary office, the car will be legally purchased.


The overall process of buying a second-hand car in the Philippines looks easy but a bit complicated. Comparing to what we know abroad, the process here looks unsystematic. I am just thankful that my father has extensive knowledge of the process, he always patiently guides us and I am very thankful for that, with his help all went well.

Car update

The car condition was doing well for a few days, but as expected despite our thorough checking during the inspection, there are some hidden issues that occurs a few days after using it. Though those scenarios are expected, it is still disappointing in some parts.

Despite these incidents, we never regret choosing a second-hand car over a brand new one, the amount that we need to add for the minor repair is simple, comparing to the cost of a brand new car.

The above is just my input based on my experience, the decision is still up to you guys.

We lost our sway-bar during our car service at the Service Center



Share This:

You may also like...