5 Questions You Need To Asking When Buying A Used Car

by Connie Mei · 6 comments

used car
A car is one of the biggest purchases you can make, but it can also be one that most easily depreciates in value. The moment you drive a new car off the lot, it’s not worth nearly as much as you paid for it. This begs the question: should you consider buying used when it comes to cars? Definitely, but be cautious.

You have plenty of options if you’re in a market for a used car, but it’s important to ask the right questions. Unfortunately, many sellers have hidden agendas and you want to make sure you don’t fall for their tricks. Here are five questions to ask when buying a used car:

Could I See the Service Records?

Ideally, you want to buy a used car that has been properly maintained and well cared for. That’s why you should ask to see any service records. When were the brakes last checked? How old are the tires? How about the muffler? A seller should be able to come up with records or receipts for these kinds of maintenance. If not, you might want to think twice.

What is the Mileage Like?

Mileage is a very good indicator of the wear and tear on a car but it’s also important to dig a littler further. For what purpose was this car primarily driven? If a high mileage is due to a long commute on a highway, that’s better than a lot of small trips on local roads which can more easily damage a car.

Has This Vehicle Been in an Accident?

You should also ask if the vehicle has been in an accident. You might not always get the most honest answers but it’s important to pose that question and see what kind of response you get. If the vehicle was in an accident, ask about the extent of the damage and proof of repairs. You can also look into a getting a history of the vehicle through a service like CarFax.

Do You Have the Title in Hand?

Always ask to see the title for the vehicle. Don’t take their word for it. While it’s unfortunate, there are many scams you can run into and you don’t want to find yourself in that position after you’ve already purchased the vehicle. Make sure there’s a clear title.

Why are You Selling It?

If you are working directly with the seller, ask them why they are selling the vehicle. Most sellers can give you a straightforward answer but there might be more to the story if they seem to be vague and beating around the bush. Don’t go forward with the transaction if your gut is telling you there is something to hide.

Have you ever purchased a used car? What is one question you asked?

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  • terry_dP says:

    I go online and enter the year and model of the car to see what others have to say about it. In particular, I’m looking for a problem a lot people have had, which indicates a problem with that particular model, and I’ve learned a lot. I check the recall list also, and if there was a recall I want to see that the seller has dealt with the problem causing the recall. If a seller can’t show me that, I don’t want it. A good way to look for a used vehicle is to look on car lots for a vehicle that has been sitting for a while. My husband saw a really nice f-150 that had been in a lot for quite a while. We needed a truck, so he stopped by and asked the dealer why it had been sitting so long at such a low price. Get this – no one would buy the truck because it was only two-wheel-drive! We live in a state that rarely gets 4wd-required weather, so we bought it, and we’ve had it for years. Our mechanic told us we got a steal. It’s the best automobile investment we’ve ever made.

    • David Ning says:

      Good find on the truck Terry. There are many reasons why people won’t take one car, but you like found it, that doesn’t mean the car won’t become the perfect fit for you. Different folks different strokes!

  • PETE says:

    Research good, reliable used cars at consumer reports. A model with a reliable history is better than one with a problematic history. I have driven my last 5 vehicles over 150,000 miles each at a minimum with excellent reliability and few problems except normal maintenance like fluid changes, tires, brakes, etc.

    • David Ning says:

      Being able to drive so many miles without any problems is awesome Pete. If you think about it, you’ve probably saved six figures compared with people how drive the same amount using new cars!

  • freebird says:

    I’ve always bought used from long established local dealerships. Yes it costs more but I don’t have to deal with the title issues, liens, and other scams. I think the most important question is one you ask yourself– what exactly do I need in the car, and how do I narrow the selections to get the best price? In other words I never wander into a dealership and let them try to sell me something, I always come in after one and only one specific vehicle that they advertised that I’ve researched and I have a firm price target beforehand. I keep a list of candidates a few deep so if “that car is in transit”, “can’t make your price”, or “sorry it’s sold” then it’s on to the next one. I don’t stick around to hear the pitch about the fantastic deals they have on offer.

    • David Ning says:

      Good plan freebird. Doing the required research beforehand is mighty important, because it’s impossible to make an informed decision on the spot when you are probably already emotionally attached to a brand new (to you) ride.

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