Buying a used car requires more than asking for a car loan, agreeing on a price with the seller, and making the transfer. Many aspects should be inquired about the condition of the vehicle, its legal situation, background, etc., which the seller sometimes omits. You can discover important information by asking the right questions.
Not doing them can lead to problems with your car in the future because, unlike dealerships, an individual does not have to offer you any protection or guarantee if something goes wrong.
Questions to ask when buying a used car
Why is the car for sale?
It may sound like a simple and even basic question, but knowing the specific motivation for the seller’s listing your car is critical to avoiding future legal problems.
Imagine that you bought a used car without inquiring into the motivation behind the sale and then while you are driving the police stop you because your license plate is being searched as part of a federal investigation. It would be an awkward situation, right? That is why you must be aware of all the reasons why the car is for sale, its documentation, former owners, etc.
Although, we must recognize that those who want to sell their car, mostly only want to obtain some economic gratification for an investment from the past. The example above is only a barely possible assumption, but you should still be aware of the origins of the used car.
There are too many variables to list all the possible answers they can give you. These are some:
- “I just bought a new car” This is good, as the salesperson is inspired to sell quickly.
- “It belonged to my father-my mother).” It also helps, because usually, people cling to such a car for sentimental reasons. If they sell it, they need to do it for the money or to avoid the expenses of a stationary car.
- “The car consumes a lot.” Yes, some honest people admit it openly. And you don’t have to be afraid to take advantage of this situation.
- “It was the car my son used and he moved/emigrated / etc.” They are complicated negotiations since there is usually less urgency to sell the car. They have to not move from their starting price.
How old is the car?
Everything will always depend on your tastes and the car you are looking for, some people lean towards old cars while others prefer much more modern cars with more technological and less mechanical characteristics.
In that case, it will always be convenient for you to know how old the car is. Besides, a very old car is always more likely to have malfunctions in a short amount of time.
How many miles does the car have?
This is the most common question as it often determines the condition of the engine and the age of the car.
It is a fact that cannot be hidden and, generally, buyers never go for cars of more than 85 thousand kilometers.
Do I have a warranty?
It is important that before making your purchase, you know if you can count on some kind of guarantee in case the car fails in the first months you use it.
If the vehicle still has a valid warranty and it is possible to continue enjoying it, it is a pretty benefit, which will allow you to save some money.
Has the car been in any kind of incident?
Some people will try to hide or minimize previous accidents and crashes. However, if you know where to look, you can find some clues as to whether a vehicle was hit. If the seller is sincere, he will tell you the circumstances in which the event occurred and you can take this information into account when reviewing the vehicle and negotiating the price.
This question is also very important to know if the car has ever been rebuilt.
Is there a vehicle report available?
Complying with the maintenance scheduled by the manufacturer is important to extend the life of the vehicle and detect any mechanical problems early. If the current owner has not taken the vehicle for maintenance, it is a sign that he has been careless or even negligent with the condition of the car.
Used cars are a mystery and it’s a shame they don’t talk so they can tell you a little about how their life went.
The history should show all the repairs that the car has undergone, where a careful driver should note all the ailments and remedies that his car has suffered. It is very important, especially if you have not been the sole owner of the car.
All sellers can lie, but lying through maintenance history is more complicated. If you are a meticulous driver, he will keep the invoices from his workshop (or workshops) and there you can see how the car has been cared for over the years. If he only shows you an oil change receipt (the last one, usually, and recently), be careful.
In what condition is the used car?
There are three positive responses:
- Excellent: That the car is in very good condition is always a good thing. Unless the seller is cheeky, the car isn’t that well-preserved and he’s just trying to get you to pay more. Ask them to send you photos of the car and check that the condition matches their claims.
- Good: As in the previous case, it is very good for a seller to present his car like this. Also, an honest salesperson does not tend to hype their used car excessively, and a great car is often hidden behind a well-maintained car.
- Normal: This is one of the best answers, as it often indicates that the seller does not know the value of his car or that he is a person willing to negotiate. You can also assume that he is shy or simply honest.
If you need to buy a used car make sure that you have solved all your doubts regarding the vehicle before making the purchase. This will make you avoid future issues that make your life harder than it already is.
There are plenty of choices in the market, so take your time and look for the best opportunities before making a decision.