7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car

In 2018, over 40 million used cars were sold, compared to just over 17 million new ones. Obviously, used cars are a desirable alternative to new a car if you’re on a budget, but also need to conduct research before you buy the first car you see. While Google can get you pretty far, it can also only get you so far. Instead of relying solely on search engines, you’re going to have to ask about the car itself — whether you’re buying from a dealership, an auction site like Grays or a person. What are the best questions to ask when buying a used car, though? Read on to find out.

7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car 1

1. How Old Is the Car?

This is a question that Google can help you with. Most of the time, you’ll be able to find the year the car was made if you’re looking online. If you’re not doing that, though, do a bit of digging about the kind of car you’re looking for.

Brand new cars can depreciate in value within the first five years. Knowing this can help you decide whether or not you’re getting a fair price on the car you’re thinking about purchasing.

2. What’s the Car’s Mileage?

According to the US Department of Transportation, the average person puts 13,476 miles on their car per year. When you combine this number with the age of the car you’re looking to purchase, you’re going to get a better idea about how the car was being used before you purchased it.

Don’t be fooled by low mileage, though. Sometimes, if a car sits unused for too long, there can be other problems lurking around.

3. Has Anything on the Car Been Replaced?

Not only can things like new tires or a new set of brakes increase the value of a car, but they can also help you learn which repairs might need to be made down the road.

Knowing the age of a set of tires, the brakes, or any other part of the car can also help you decide whether or not it’s an investment you’re willing to make.

4. Is the Car Under Warranty?

The full question to ask here is, “Are you selling this as-is, or Is it still under warranty?” There are a lot of tips for buying a used car, but asking about a warranty might be the best one.

When you drive a car off the lot “as-is,” that means you’re taking on any repairs and other maintenance the car may need. Some used vehicles, however, are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. 

This means that they’re still responsible for at least some of the repairs and replacement parts the car may need.

Either way, knowing what you’re responsible for is going to save a lot of time and potential headaches once the car is under your care.

5. Are There Any Problems With the Car?

Take a look under the hood before purchasing your new vehicle. The engine is the main thing you want to look at, mostly to make sure it’s not clean or leaking any fluids. You can also check the other fluid levels in the vehicle, along with the oil level.

While fluids might not all be expensive or hard to refill or replace, it’s still nice to know what the car needs before you purchase it. It’s also worth noting that a lot of dealerships will replace these and the oil before you purchase any vehicle.

If you’re purchasing from a person, it’s also worth it to ask if you can take it to your own mechanic before purchasing it.

6. Do They Have the Title in Hand?

Whether you’re purchasing from a dealership or private seller, never pay anything or walk off the lot without the title in your hand.

A lot of dealerships are going to have this readily available. If a private seller still owes money for the vehicle, they might not have it. You can, however, get the title directly from the bank.

Be sure to inspect the title itself as well. It reflects whether or not the car has been in an accident and declared a total loss, meaning you should ask for a price that reflects that.

7. Do You Have a Vehicle History Report?

This is a big one and is a great thing to have if you can get your hands on it. Knowing the history of the vehicle can make a difference for some people, especially if it’s been in multiple accidents over a short period of time.

Not only will have the accident history, but it will also list any open recalls, the car’s previous owners, and even service history.

You can look up a report online, or get one for free from most car dealers — just have either the license plate number or the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Remember These Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car

Remembering these questions to ask when buying a used car can help you a lot in the long run. Not only does it ensure that you’ve covered all your bases during the buying process, but it also helps you know exactly what you’re taking on when you buy a used car.

The process of buying a used car isn’t a particularly hard one, but there is a lot involved. Instead of winging it each time you meet with a private seller or walk onto a car lot to test drive, use these questions to know exactly what you’re getting into.

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