Buying a Used Car? Ask These Questions First.
Sometimes the best cars have a few miles under the hood. Buying a used vehicle is a great way to get into the car of your dreams without breaking the bank. But because it’s had a few trips around the block, there are some things you should know before you buy.
Asking some key questions — before you see the car, and when you meet with the seller — will help you decide if this is a ride worthy of your dream journey. Take a look:
On the Phone
Ask these questions on the phone with the owner or dealer of the used car. The answers could save you a trip.
Why are you selling? This is a great question for a private seller. If the answer seems vague, it could mean there’s something they don’t want you to know. This question can be a bargaining tool, too. If you find out the seller wants to sell as soon as possible, you could get could get a better deal!
What’s the overall condition? Keep this question broad and let the seller take it from there. They might bring up something you wouldn’t have thought to ask about.
Any accidents? A vehicle history report and the car’s title should be able to tell you the whole truth, but it’s still a good idea to ask. If the answer is yes, ask about the extent of the damage and the shop that did the repairs.
How many owners? You can get a good idea of any recurring problems by finding out how many owners a car has had. More than two might be too many.
How many miles? Total mileage is helpful info to have for a couple reasons. It can be a good indicator of how the car was driven — for example, if the miles are high because the owner had a long commute, that’s usually better than miles piled up on short, stop-and-go trips. And, knowing total mileage will help when researching car insurance quotes.
If you’re standing next to the car, face-to-face with the seller, it must mean this one was worth a closer look. These five questions should come in handy at this point in the process.
Can I see maintenance records? A car that’s been taken care of will take care of you. Ask for receipts for any muffler, brakes, tires and other hardworking parts that’ve been replaced. If the seller can’t produce the paperwork, you might want to think twice.
Can I have my mechanic look at it? It’s always a good idea to have a licensed mechanic give the car a good once-over. If everything is in working order, the seller should have no problem have an expert take a look.
Can I take it for a test drive? This is a biggie. The only way to truly tell if this is the car for you is to try it on for size. If the seller is hesitant to let you drive it, you can bet there’s something they’re not telling you. And while you’re on that drive, know what to look for.
Ask for a better price. Did you get the answers you wanted? Did the test drive feel just right? Then it’s time to talk numbers. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Ask the seller how low they’re willing to go. You won’t know if you don’t ask!
The moral of this dream-car story: a little Q&A can go a long way in helping you find the used car you deserve. Happy car buying and drive safely!