Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Second hand car testing

If getting a reliable second hand car in Thailand has given you only a mild headache, then you've been lucky.

Published on December 17, 2007

Second hand car testing

Because in a country where second hand rental shops control the market, there is no place for customer satisfaction. The common process of buying a second hand car includes taking some one along who apparently claims to know more than your ignorant self. Maybe a car mechanic who says he can tell by knocking on the car, listening to the engine and pushing it up and down.

Thanks to Test Car Thailand, there is now an official car tester in Thailand. It's the only place where a complete unbiased technical report about the cars situation is given to you. The testers have a strict code of conduct which includes, not fixing the car, not stating a price of the car and not recommending a possible garage to fix the car under any circumstances.

To check out the testing process, we accompanied one of the winners of the Nation testcar competition to the Testcar centre located on Srinakarin road. Khun Wynn Thawilwejjakul wanted to test out her 1998 Nissan Sunny 1.5 which she had been driving for nine years. Wynn stated that the main problem was the car had quite bad fuel economy and wanted to see whether it was worth investing some money to fix the problems she had on the current car, or all together sell it and buy a new one.

"I only use my car within the city mostly. I drive to work in Witthayu road from my home in Phra Khanong. Even when on the highway I mostly don't drive above 90kph. Occasionally I go upcountry, not more than twice a year though. As a whole the car hasn't done more than 90,000km over the years because most of my driving is limited to the city," Wynn stated.

Test car uses a whole bunch of sophisticated equipment to check 12 items in the vehicle, namely the Engine, Fuel system, Air conditioning system, Exhaust system, Steering system, Suspension, Chassis and body, Tires, Braking system, Electrical system, Transmission and finally the Interior.

Other problems stated by Wynn was that the air conditioning was very cold in the morning, but stopped operating later during the day. She felt that the left side of the vehicle use to vibrate unusually much. She added that she had already taken the vehicle to a mechanic but he was not able to fix the really bad fuel efficiency problem. The test car engineers do not however ask the customer to state their problems. They inspect the car themselves and give the customer an objective analysis.

After about 3045 minutes of getting the car on the dyno, checking suspension, exhaust, head light strength and much more, all the testers will finally get together to give a final verdict on different parts of the car. To many, the list of problems can be a scare at first, as every car has some kind of problem or the other. When compared the official requirements of the Land Transport department, a large percentage of the vehicles on the road do not meet safety standards.

For the next 30 minutes we spent our time with the chief tester who explained to us the problems with Wynn's car. The major problem was that it had a fuel leak, which although not a very major problem is what lead to the bad fuel efficiency. Besides this there were problems with rubber seals in the engine which lead to an oil leak, the exhaust system had problems, there was a leak in power steering fluid and the hand brake provided unequal power between both the wheels. More problems were listed on the sheet that the tester provides to the customer.

"Most second hand vehicles do have problems. But this is what a customer needs to know before buying a vehicle. There may be parts that the customer will have to change soon after purchase. It is only fair that the customer is informed of this. It is also better for the person who is selling the car, as it builds trust between the seller and the buyer, essential if the customer is to recommend the buyer to another person," said the chief tester.

"The main advantage with a place like Test car is that it provides information to woman, who usually dont know much about the vehicle. The testers try to provide us with a layman explanation of the problem and what needs to be done. Women are commonly tricked when buying a car, especially a second hand one," Wynn added.

More information about Test car can be found on The webiste include a site map and also a detailned list of all the parts if the car which are inspected.

Vijo Varghese

he Nation

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