11 Crucial Questions to Ask About a Used Car Before Buying


Are you needing to upgrade your car? If so, you could probably use all the help you can get.

After all, car shopping can be a fun yet stressful experience. You’ll be making a major purchase, even if you plan to buy a pre-owned vehicle, and you might not understand the pitfalls to watch out for.

This article takes a look at some of the most important questions to ask about a used car before making the purchase.

Keep reading to get the inside scoop so that you’ll have the best possible car-buying experience.

1. How Many Miles Does It Have On It?

Let’s start by talking about the car’s mileage. After all, a pre-owned car might have been driven very few miles or more than a hundred thousand miles. Keep in mind that a car with a lot of miles on it could be due to age, but not always.

When a late model car has high mileage, this is a red flag that it’s been driven hard in a short period of time.

2. How Many Previous Owners?

It’s also important to find out how many owners there have been since the car was originally purchased. Why does this matter? Well, every owner will treat the car differently; thus, the maintenance and upkeep will likely be inconsistent.

It also means the car has been driven in a wider range of conditions and could, therefore, potentially have more mechanical problems.

3. Has It Been Wrecked?

Before buying any used car, it’s super important to request a Carfax report. This will tell you the complete history from the day it rolled off the factory line.

It will also list any accidents it’s been involved in, along with the repairs that have been made.

4. Was It Ever a Rental Car?

It’s always wise to be hesitant about purchasing a used car that was once a rental. In fact, this is one of the most important questions to ask when buying a used car.

Keep in mind that rental companies put a lot of miles on their car. Thus you will likely be buying a car that’s already received a lot of wear and tear.

5. Does It Come With Original Paperwork?

The paperwork that comes with your car is important. This is mainly because it provides the official history of the car, including where it was made and how many times it has changed hands over the years.

In fact, you’d be wise to avoid buying a car with documents that have been reproduced from the originals.

Here’s a place to discover more great used car options.

6. Does the Current Owner Have the Car’s Maintenance History?

It’s important to remember that a car’s maintenance history will tell you far more about the vehicle than simply looking under the hood.

Has the oil been changed regularly? Have the tires been rotated and balanced? Has it received proper annual servicing? Have mechanics made any special comments about parts that have been replaced or about suspicious performance issues?

The more you can know about the maintenance history of a particular vehicle, the more confident you can be about how it will hold up in the future.

7. Why Is the Current Owner Selling the Car?

There are plenty of valid reasons for selling a car. Some individuals simply love to upgrade regularly, or their needs change.

Some people can no longer afford payments on their current vehicle, thus they have to sell to get out from under the financial strain, while others no longer need multiple vehicles or they want something new with fewer miles.

If the current owner is a private individual, try to take the time to have a conversation with them. Ask them about their motivation for selling. You can learn a lot. This is especially important if they have decided to sell based on high mileage or performance issues.

But if the car is being sold by a dealership, try to get as much information as possible about why the previous seller decided to trade in the car and why you should feel confident about making the purchase.

8. What Is the Overall Physical Condition?

Take a close look at the exterior of the car. Are they any obvious dings, dents, or scratches? It’s hard to own a car for several years without it receiving some form of minor damage like small scratches or door dings. The key is to take note of significant dents, the location of the dents, and how much those damaged areas might cost to repair or replace.

Visible damage could also provide evidence of internal damage that could ultimately lead to performance issues.

9. Can You Have It Inspected By a Mechanic?

The best strategy before buying a used car is to have it inspected by a trained auto mechanic. This obviously isn’t always possible, especially if the car is being sold by a dealership.

But if you’re buying from an individual, consider requesting taking the car for a test drive so that you can have a trusted mechanic take a look under the hood. Keep in mind that an owner with nothing to hide should have no reason to resist this request. Just be sure to keep the inspection short and return the car as soon as possible.

10. Is the Price Negotiable?

Always negotiate. Even if the owner says the price is firm, there’s always wiggle room.

11. Does It Come with a Warranty?

A private seller obviously won’t be able to offer a warranty unless the car is still under the original warranty. And if a dealership doesn’t offer at least a limited warranty on every car they sell, this is a big red flag that you need to keep shopping.

A Shopper’s Guide to the Best Questions to Ask About a Used Car

Buying a new car is typically super exciting, even when the car is simply new to you. Fortunately, this list of questions to ask about a used car will help you be a more confident shopper.

Keep exploring this blog to discover more useful automotive-related tips and advice.

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