Buying a used car is not a very complicated process. It’s just that there is some gamble involved. But you can always increase your chance by making the right moves. And asking the right questions. When you’re talking with the seller on the phone, write down the answers. If you decide to see the car, you’ll be able to see how sincere the seller is.
In negotiations information is power. When you are talking with a dealership, they already have more information about the car than you. If you lightly give information about your real budget or your affections to a certain car, you’ll be even at a bigger disadvantage. You must ask questions. The same, when dealing with a private seller. You need to know what you are buying.
When you seriously like the car and think about buying. You should check its history. Maintenance, real mileage, number of owners. You should know all this information before giving away money. With a VIN you can get a full vehicle’s history report form car check services like carVertical.
Every interaction with an unfamiliar used car seller starts the same. After you get acquainted you begin to ask each other questions. We prepared a list of questions to ask when buying a used car.
1. Accident History
Were this car in any accidents? Had it had any paint job? What is the condition of the car’s body? Any rust? Scratches or dents?
Any bigger accident will damage a car’s geometry. Also, the geometry of the frame. And it can influence a vehicle’s performance. Even a small bump can become a source of rust. And begin to eat exterior or under the car.
2. Condition of the Car
What is the general condition of this car? What is the maintenance history? Are service records available?
If the car was repaired and maintained at a dealership, it’s mostly a good sign. It means, the owner didn’t do shortcuts and cared for the car. A certified mechanic shop is also a good option. Even a handyman at the garage can do a professional job. But it’s less guarantee and you’ll need to get the car to the mechanic. If you are serious about buying.
3. Number of Owners
How many owners the car had? Who were the owners?
If in a few years the car has changed hands several times, it begs the question. Why? Most probably, that car has problems. Who drove the car and with what purpose? Usually, you avoid ex taxi or rental cars. And it’s always good to buy a car from the owner. They will know most and probably, won’t be as tricky as dealers.
4. Miles and Odometer Miles
What’s the mileage of the car? Where it was driven mostly? In the city or on the road?
The answer will tell you what repairs you’ll have to do in the near future. Also, it is very important what kind of miles those are. City miles are much more taxing on the vehicle than straight long road miles.
Talking about miles. Keep in mind that odometer rollback is the most popular scam in the used car industry. It’s so widespread that even many owners don’t know. You should always take this question seriously.
5. Features and Functionalities
Are there any features or parts that don’t work? Or don’t function fully? Had any electronic features been replaced?
All newer cars have plenty of electronic features that can go wrong. Especially European cars are full of fancy features that are costly to replace. Windows buttons. Air conditioner. Sound system. Driving support features like cruise control. Many parts that can influence the price and become good negotiation devices.
6. Oil and Its Consumption
How about oil? When was it changed? What kind of oil did you use? What is oil consumption?
Excessive oil consumption is a sign of problems. If the car eats up more than a gallon driving 6-7 thousand miles, it means leaks or some more serious problems with the engine. If you’ll have to change the oil it also means to change filters for extra cash.
7. Parts Changed
What parts were changed in the car? How about the engine?
A three-year-old battery means that you’ll have to replace it soon. Engine belt by recommendations must be replaced every 60-80 thousand miles. Brake pads experience lots of pressure and experience wear and tear constantly. Spark plugs are parts that have to be replaced quite often.
8. Examination by the Mechanic
Can my mechanic inspect the car?
If a seller is a bit hesitant with an answer, better forget that car. Before big money change the hands before you make the decision. You should gather as much information about that car as you can. A qualified mechanic can help a lot. And when you hire him, he’ll be on your side and give you impartial information.
9. Owner of the Title
Do you have the title of the car? Are you the owner? Are there any loans on the car?
Those are normal things to ask when buying a used car. You don’t want to get into any scam and lose money. Or get into lengthy and time-consuming legal battles. If a seller gets aggravated by legal and financial questions it could mean that they hide something.
10. Best Price
Is it the best price you can offer?
Negotiations are a normal part of the used car market. Especially, when dealing with dealerships. Every used car has its own history. And the price is heavily influenced by that history. Same model, the same year, same mileage. One driven in the city and maintained in a garage. Other more of a countryside car with maintenance in a dealership. Should be very different prices.
Only during negotiations, you can find the real price. Remember, a dealership seller will never sell you a car for a lower price than their bottom. And their bottom is with a profit margin.
Increase Your Chances with a Car History Report
In a used car business, there are no guarantees. The car history report is the closest to that. Before buying get the vehicle’s VIN and check car history with carVertical or any other service. Real mileage. A number of owners. Accident history. It answers many questions.
Good luck! Get yourself a good and safe deal.