So I needed to replace a van used to haul supplies, blown engine, and just not worth putting the money into the vehicle. First try was having staff ask around at our mechanic or watching out for multicabs in the area. Not good, everyone wanted to mark up the vehicle once they found out a kano was involved, asking ridiculous prices for old worn out vehicles. At some point even the staff figured out that racism was alive and well in the Philippines.
So fly in on the late night flight, have a car rented for the next day, pull up some OLX.com ads, print them out after making some calls checking on them, and off into the hinterlands to check out the vehicles. You gotta go where the multicabs are common so there is competition on price or you will pay too much. First thing to expect is that the pictures of the vehicle sometimes are not actual pictures of the vehicle, but copied photos from online that might be the same brand or they might not be. Second thing is that the color might or might not be what is posted in the ad, in fact they sometimes just copy another ad and paste it in with their contact info. The ads says it is running well? Probably won’t start when you get there.
Why OLX.com? Because the price is advertised and you won’t get kano priced when you drive two hours across clogged roads at 20 km an hour.
One by one you check out the vehicles, total dishonesty, totally worthless vehicles or over priced for the condition.
One last vehicle to look at for the day and it turns out to be the lesser of evils. Said to be in a car lot with lots of other multicabs but that is a borrowed picture, show up at a small university and the #2 guy at the university meets you at the administrative office to take you to where the vehicle is, his son actually owns the vehicle and teaches at the college. The vehicle actually has the air con and automatic transmission the ad claimed. Not white like in the picture but blue. Ask the owner and he tells you “Oh sir, I said it was blue and white.” No white on the vehicle at all of course. Text the license plate info into the LTO office and make sure it isn’t stolen, you will get a reply in a few minutes.
Engine and chassis serial numbers match the paperwork, and this time it actually is registered with a actual license plate and has the OR and no liens unlike some of the other vehicles you looked at. It actually starts and runs, Dong doesn’t want to do a test drive of course so you start to walk away and Dong changes his mind and you get a five or six km road test including getting it up to 60 km so you know the top gear kicks in. All the while you are treated to a lecture of how lucky you are to have found such a great vehicle that needs no work and is in perfect condition.
Does it have the canopy and folding seats somewhere? Yes, it does, they will go get them if I agree to buy it.
Runs good, no blow back when you pull the oil filler cap off, nice and clean for a 2011 model, no oil leaks, not a bad deal on price. Now 2011 model doesn’t mean an actual 2011 model, it was registered in the Philippines in 2011 actually and might be older and might be assembled from scrap parts from a dozen multicabs and painted. Seat belts have a tag on them with a date usually and might or might not be the same ones when the vehicle was manufactured. This one actually was imported in one piece instead of chopped up as all the serial numbers match up with the door label, a rare duck indeed. Very recent emission test, just a few days before actually, your fist sign to watch out for problems actually as why would a guy go though all that trouble to register a car in his name and sell it a few days later? So you tell them you will go by a bank and get the cash and then meet them at a notary public office to have the bill of sale notarized. Now Dong wants an additional 8 k for the canopy and folding seats he took off and has stored at his house. No deal Dong, bye, bye. Dong changes his mind and agrees no charge. But a thirty km trip to go get the canopy and seats. Now the fun begins.
First Dong is told to stop by the bank with you so you can pick up the cash (you are not an idiot and did not travel around with a year and a half of dong pay in your pocket I hope?), then dong’s dad will continue out in his own truck and pick up the canopy and seats and then to the notary public office. No problem… till you tell dong and dong junior that you are going to ride with dong junior on the way over to the bank and pick up the canopy. Deer in the headlight looks, gaping mouth, and no way to refuse the request. Yup, something is wrong with that vehicle and they know it.
So you hop in the multicab, following dong senior, while your rented car follows you. Dong junior isn’t sharp enough to not lose your rented car so you have to pull over on occasion and you keep an eye on the car and driver you rented so you don’t outrun them. Dong junior is nervous but you are watching how he uses the pedals, driving with both feet is a dead giveaway that the vehicle stalls when it gets warmed up. And sure enough, the car loses speed going up a small hill about a half hour later and dong junior is trying to tell you that this is the first time it ever happened! Turn engine off, turn back on, problem cleared. Throttle position sensor going out, computer going into limp home mode.
Dong junior is sweating bullets now. Busted about lying about the vehicle and sure you are going to walk out on the deal. But as used vehicles go this one is one of the better ones and easily fixed. Thing is that a good used vehicle without a problem in the Philippines is NOT going to be sold in an ad, it is going to family somewhere. But dong mechanics usually don’t have a clue about fuel injected multicabs and it is a rare mutlicab with automatic transmission and factory aircon so you buy it anyway.
Dong senior walks out of the first notary public after the lawyer sees the white face and ups the price on the bill of sale to 550 peos, 200 pesos usually. Second notary public you stay out side while they write up the bill of sale and the look on the notary public’s face is priceless when you walk in, they clap their hands to their face and laugh then get a sick look on their face. Of course Don misstated the selling price to save tax money.
Now the real adventure starts. You are way the hell out in the sticks and are following the rented car driver back. Back roads all the way, ALEC or something is in town so traffic is snarled 80 km away on the freeway back. Dong isn’t bright enough to think that you can’t pass other vehicles like he can but you drive like hell trying to keep up with him and hope you don’t take a wrong turn.
Multicabs are three cyclinder engines, around 60 hp, and they while they can do 80 km an hour and more they don’t get there quickly enough to pass a big truck on a two lane road. Dumb ass hasn’t been paid so you think he wouldn’t lose sight of you. So about 100 km back through countless towns and villages in the dead of night in a strange vehicle that you hope isn’t going to conk out. No taillights on many cars, no headlights either, people walking in the road or riding bikes, road construction every other town with one lane traffic with a dong sitting at each end with a stop sign. Government oo stupid to detour traffic around the road. And what fun, the new road surface now sits about 18” above the old road, no shoulders, straight drop off, I suppose they will dump sand on both sides so cars can get into driveways and parking slots eventually.
But the vehicle runs like a top and gives you no problems. LTO process goes smooth cause you knew to buy only an already registered vehicle, no problems for the rest of the week so the throttle position sensor is just weak and glitch so far.
Lessons learned: Flips will lie like no one else when selling a car, even the color of the damn thing.
If it is for sale to the public then no one in the family or friend network wants it for some reason so be careful.
Check the paperwork closely; check that serial numbers all match what on the OR and that the tag number is the same as on the OR. Open title is common, a vehicle handed down a several times without re registering it in the new owners name, just get the tag sticker and insurance and believe it or not you might not have a problem even though it is risky.
The notarized bill of sale is your actual proof of ownership but you need LTO registration to be certain of a clear title. Always get a copy of the original owner’s ID and a copy of the ID of anyone else that had owned the vehicle if it is an open title vehicle but it is much safer to purchase only a vehicle that is registered with the current owner.
Above all, invest only what you can afford to lose and walk away from. Even with a messed up title that can’t be registered you can drive the dang thing for years as long as you have the bill of sale and insurance. Out of date tag? No problem as long as you have the paperwork and tell the cop that they are processing the paperwork still. Things are so screwed up there that that excuse is actually credible.Published in