Buying a used car is no easy task and is not cheap! Often times you may not know what you are buying, until have you have bought it. There are ways, however, that you can mitigate your risk by asking questions before you buy a used car.
Why is it important to ask questions when buying a used car?
It is important to ask questions before buying a used car because you want to know everything about the car before you take the car home.
You need to do your due diligence when buying a used car. As you ask questions about the car, you get to learn about the history of a car.
Another reason why it is important for you to ask questions when you buy a used car, is so you can assess whether the car was properly maintained.
If you don’t ask questions, you won’t know. After your purchase, you may end up learning about extra costs that you did not plan for. As a result, you may end up regretting your decision.
The 8 questions to ask to when buying a used car
- What is the vehicle’s ownership history?
- Where was the vehicle previously registered and driven?
- Do you have a record of the service history of the vehicle?
- Are there any mechanical problems with this car that I need to be aware of?
- Has the car been in any accidents?
- Can I take the car to my mechanic to check out?
- Does the car have a clean title?
- Can I take the car for a test drive?
Here’s why you ask the 8 questions when buying a used car
1) What is the vehicle’s ownership history?
It’s important to know a vehicle’s ownership history to know how the car was previously used. In other words, will you be the second/third/fourth owner of the car. You could also learn whether the car was previously used as a taxi or rental.
Knowing the above will help you understand the usage of the car and whether it was properly maintained.
2) Where was the vehicle previously registered and driven?
If you know where the vehicle was previously registered, it will provide you with a better understanding as to the climate and environment. For instance, a car that was previously registered in New York and perhaps was parked in New York City would have probably dealt with snow and pothole problem in New York City (widespread pothole problems across New York City).
Alternatively, a car that was previously registered in Tennessee was likely driven in a better highway system.
3) Do you have a record of the service history of the vehicle?
Viewing a vehicle’s history record will help you understand whether the previous owner properly maintained the car. This is not only the routine oil changes, but tire rotation and other maintenance a car needs once the mileage reaches certain thresholds (e.g. transmission fluid change, brake oil change, etc.).
4) Are there any mechanical problems with this car that I need to be aware of?
Asking the dealer/private seller directly whether there are any mechanical problems will help you know whether there truly are any mechanical problems. If 5 minutes after you buy the car, the check engine light turns on…well, let’s hope that doesnt!
5) Has the car been in any accidents?
It’s helpful for you to know whether the car was in an accident or not. A car with an accident history, reduces its market value.
Another helpful reason to know this information will help you understand whether you can expect “issues” with the car. For instance, if the car was hit from the front, you don’t know whether it was properly fixed or not. The car could potentially have fluid leaking (still!), or random noises over bumps (or in the case of New York, potholes).
6) Can I take the car to my mechanic to check out?
You should always ask to have your mechanic check out the car. If a mechanic can thoroughly check the car at his/her shop, then they can protentially uncover issues that you might not be able to see.
If the owner does not allow you to take the car, then ask your mechanic to visit the car. Although your mechanic will likely not be able to do a thorough inspection, it is better then nothing.
If they don’t allow an inspection at all, then it should be a yellow flag for you to see whether it is a risk you are willing to take.
7) Does the car have a clean title?
Understanding whether the car has a clean title can mean a few things:
- Is there a lien against the car by a bank or some other person?
- Does or did the car previously have a salvage title? Click here to learn more about salvage titles. It is possible that a car does not have a salvage title now, but did in the past.
8) Can I take the car for a test drive?
You should always ask to take a car for a test drive! This is how you learn whether you are comfortable in that car or not. You can also learn whether the car makes any random noises!
If the seller does not allow you to take the car on a test drive: buyer be aware and buy at your own risk!
Check out our tips on how to negotiate the price of a used car.
Consider buying an extended car warranty
Depending on where or who you buy the car from, you can consider buying an extended car warranty plan for the vehicle. There are many options available on the market for such plans.
If you buy the car from the dealer, ask the dealer to present you with some options. If, however, you buy the vehicle from a private owner, you can try some extended car warranty options online.
Check out our article where we discuss whether it’s worth to buy an extended car warranty.
In summary, you should always do your research and inspect a used car you are buying. These top 8 questions will certainly help you learn more about the used car you are buying
David is an avid car enthusiast. Whether it is classic muscle cars or electric vehicles, David loves everything about cars. Over the years David has bought and sold many cars, as a consumer, and take an active interest in car repair. Outside of cars, David loves to regularly bike to stay active!