As sellers, we’re entitled to describe our wares as we see fit. For the most part, there are some terms in the second-hand vehicle market that, really, are used to fluff up their value. Some of these terms have become mainstays in classified ads, so much so that both sellers and buyers alike believe that they automatically mean their car is worth their price.

In this article, we’ll look at the most common – but not all – of the second-hand car terms we see when we shop for vehicles, what they could really mean, and if it’s really something that could bump up value, or actually bring it down a few notches.

1. FULLY LOADED

Right, so we’re not selling KFC meals here, okay? But “fully loaded” has been a staple pitch nonetheless. From thousands and thousands of car ads, we see both stock and kitted-and-fitted-‘til-kingdom-come being described as such. But something most common among all these is that a “fully loaded” vehicle is normally the top-of-the-line variant.

We’re not saying this with absolute finality, but that’s just a rather common trend. Being fully loaded can make buyers think that your vehicle for sale may have more things from the original parts catalog installed; maybe it does, but we’ll get to that later. But we can simply stick to “TOTL” instead. Keep it simple, and as a buyer, use your eyes. What’s actually loaded? Does it have all the knick-knacks you want? No? Okay, not “loaded” enough. Move on to the next ad.

2. ALL STOCK / NEVER RACED

Touchy issue here, but let’s cut to the chase. “All stock” and never raced are all good; that’s something that can actually fetch a better price for a second-hand car. We all know, though, that regardless of brand, lots of cars (especially sedans of all sizes) may at one time or another have been driven like Dom Toretto or Bryan O’Connor would. If you find a gem of a vehicle that has casa markings intact, albeit a rarity, you’re pretty much assured that you’re buying a very well-maintained car. All stock plus casa maintained is a good find, for the most part.

If you’re not too sold on a stock-looking vehicle as having never been raced, it’s your prerogative as a buyer to check it as thoroughly as possible. Something as simple as a local short ram intake or aftermarket exhaust could point to the seller being a, err, “enthusiast”, so it’s best to check until you’re satisfied with the seller’s pitch.

3. LADY DRIVEN

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This is perhaps the most controversial of all: there is an assumption that if a vehicle is owned and driven by a lady, the vehicle is driven more carefully and/or cared for more religiously.

As far as the local second-hand market goes, “lady-driven” supposedly fetches a premium because of this. But we feel the need to clarify it, and please we don't mean anything sexist about this: just because a car is owned and driven by a lady doesn't guarantee it is in better shape.

While there truly are a lot of ladies who take care of their vehicles, there are just as many gentlemen who do, too. And equally between both sexes, some just don’t. If you know how to take care of your car, it will show. Gender has nothing to do with it.

We’re all about equality in this day and age, so this particular pitch shouldn’t demand a price bump for any vehicle in the market. Think about it: just because you say it’s “lady-driven” doesn’t mean it’s automatically in its most pristine condition. Just say “well-maintained” – with casa records if you have them – and that’s a more telling and convincing selling point.

4. LOW MILEAGE

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Now here’s one factor in a vehicle fetching a good price: “Kilometrahe”, "Ilan na tinakbo niyan, pare?"

In more ways than one, this can be a very good thing because that may mean the car was used but not abused. But it should still come with a caveat: Why is it low mileage?

As a gauge, a decent baseline mileage is about 10,000 to 12,000 kilometers per year (more or less). That's just the number we use. Just an example: you're in the market for a 2011 car and the mileage reads anywhere between 100,000 to 120,000, then the car is being driven and (hopefully) maintained.

If it's got far less like 60,000, then you have to ask the seller a few questions. What’s the reason behind it not being used? Is it a garage king/queen? Did you have any problems with it? Is it your primary car?

You should also check if the gauge panel is still original. Some digital odometers can even be reflashed or reset. And check if the condition of the interior (specifically the driver's seat and driver's controls) for wear and tear and judge if it matches the mileage. 

Whichever the case, it’s prudent to ask why. While low mileage is a good gauge of value, you have to remember that underneath that hood is an engine, a machine that needs to run. An engine does not like to keep sitting around and not be driven. Also, a lot of the rubber components tend to get brittle if these are not used over time; we've seen bushings and window seals cracking after a long time without use. 

If it gets driven just enough to keep its blood going, then well and good. But if that 3- or 4-digit odometer reading is because it was just stocked in the garage, then it may be worthy to approach with caution. Don't get wowed by the super low reading on the odo. 

5. FIRST OWNED / FIRST OWNER

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There’s nothing better than first-hand stories, straight from the source. A used vehicle labeled as “first owned” is one of those that are priced just a tad bit higher than most. While we can’t discredit sellers from saying so, there are also some rights that buyers need to fully verify that pitch.

The best way of which is to look at the Deed of Sale. Does the document bear the seller’s name?

It does? Great!

But if you see a suspicious blank line in the buyer's (AKA: vendee) name portion, and the person you're actually transacting with isn't the name on the vendor's side on it, then he/she isn't the first owner. That's what the market calls an "open" deed of sale, and is an indicator that you're transacting with either a second or third owner, or maybe even an entrepreneur (AKA: buy-and-sell).

There's nothing wrong with that, and there are a lot of good cars being traded by buy-and-sell types, but because the deed is open, keep in mind that there's no way of telling how many owners there have been in between you and the first owner.

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Selling and buying are rights that everyone has. As a seller, our right to do so comes with the expectation that we sell it as it really is. As buyers, we also have the right to be discerning and be sure that we are satisfied that claims and sales pitches are lived up to, and to 100% of our satisfaction.

If you're in the market for a second-hand car, we hope this came in handy. We understand that sellers will always want their ads to stand out, but ultimately, prudence is always your best bet when buying, and being careful and not rushing into a purchase are some things you should always practice. You are buying a used unit after all.

And one final thing: the price on second hand car ads is not the resale value. That's the asking price; the actual selling price and the market value are different. More on these terms in a later article.