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The More You Know: 18 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car

The More You Know: 18 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car

While it's undeniable that the prices of used cars have significantly increased in recent years, don't jump to the conclusion of abandoning cars entirely and resorting to commuting by public transit just yet—there's more to the story.


Not every used car will break the bank. Good deals are still out there; you just need to do your homework, shop wisely, know what you want, and stick to your budget.

The more you know, the better equipped you'll be to drive away with confidence in your new (to you) set of wheels. Let's discuss what questions to ask when buying a used car.



Get a Comprehensive Vehicle History Report

When purchasing a used car, check the vehicle history report first for insights into its past. Widely offered by Carfax and AutoCheck, these reports provide details on accidents, title information, past owners, maintenance records, and more.


While many dealers offer free reports, private buyers can purchase them independently. Remember that even trusted reports may have errors, so you must ask questions about the car's history and current condition before buying.


Dealers will do their best to ascertain the history; however, please note that if a customer did not claim damage from an accident and simply repaired the car, there may not be a record of it.



Ask These 18 Questions When Buying a Used Car

Gain valuable insights by asking these 18 questions to the seller of the used car. The more you equip yourself with knowledge, the greater confidence you'll have in your investment.


1. What is the car's value?

Before sealing the deal on a used car, you must know its true value. Some websites can provide trustworthy estimates. If the asking price exceeds the car's value, attempting to negotiate for a fairer price is always an option.


2. How old is the car?

Understanding the car's age is crucial due to depreciation. Most cars lose a significant portion of their value in the first five years. Knowing the age helps ensure that you know the car is being offered for a reasonable price based on the expected depreciation.


3. What's the car's mileage?

Considering the average annual mileage of 13,476 miles (or 21,687 km), the odometer reading provides insight into wear and tear. High mileage may indicate more significant potential issues, influencing the decision-making process.


4. Is there a vehicle history report available?

A comprehensive vehicle history report is also important as it shows:


  • Accidents history
  • Recalls
  • Service history
  • Previous owners


This report can empower the buyer with essential information and potentially lead to a better deal.


5. Are there any mechanical problems?

Make sure the car is free from mechanical issues. You may request a professional inspection by a mechanic who can identify potential problems and save you from unexpected expenses.



6. Is there any damage to the exterior of the car?

A thorough inspection of the exterior helps identify the car's overall condition. Scratches, dents, rust, or significant damage can affect decision-making.


7. What does the interior of the car look like?

Examine the interior for wear and tear, such as:


  • Rips
  • Stains
  • Unpleasant odors


These provide a glimpse into how well the car has been maintained.


8. Are you able to go on a test drive with the car?

A test drive allows potential buyers to assess the car's performance. When test driving, pay attention to:


  • Braking
  • Gear changes
  • Acceleration


Any unusual sounds or sensations during the test drive can be red flags.


9. Is the car under warranty?

Understanding the warranty status is crucial for post-purchase responsibilities. Some used cars may still be under the manufacturer's warranty, which provides additional reassurance.



10. What effect will this car have on my auto insurance costs?

Considering the impact on insurance premiums when changing cars is essential. Consult with an independent car insurance agent to help estimate potential changes in insurance costs.


11. Why are they selling the car?

If possible, try to find out what reason the previous owner decided to sell the vehicle. Understanding the seller's reason for selling can provide insights into the car's history and potential issues.


12. Do they have the title in hand?

Check the availability of the title. Before completing the deal, it is essential to ensure a legal and fast transaction.


13. How long have they owned the car?

The duration of ownership can indicate the car's reliability. Longer ownership with fewer issues may be a positive sign, while a short ownership period might warrant further investigation into potential problems.


14. What components have been replaced or upgraded on the car?

Knowing the history of replacements or updates, such as new brakes or a recent engine overhaul, provides insights into the vehicle's overall condition and potential longevity.



15. Has the car been involved in any accidents?

Understanding the car's accident history is crucial, as post-repair issues or lasting effects may linger. Knowing this information is vital for comprehensively assessing the vehicle's past. CarHub offers free Carfax reports to its customers. Just click on the link on the vehicle detail page to see its report.


16. Are there any immediate repairs or replacements needed?

Before making a commitment, consider that some dealers sell vehicles ‘as is’ meaning it may require repairs to be road-worthy. Inquire about that status and any current repair needs. Understanding the extent and urgency of required repairs is crucial, which considers both potential costs and the time investment.


17. Are all features functioning correctly?

Checking for any non-operational features is crucial. Sellers may overlook issues like:


  • A malfunctioning CD player
  • Non-adjustable side-view mirrors
  • Unusable seatbelts


Clarifying these details ensures a complete understanding of the car's condition.


18. Are there any existing mechanical problems?

Knowing the proper functionality of all electronics and car systems is vital. This includes verifying that all components are in good working order and addressing any potential mechanical problems before finalizing the purchase.


a-man-inspecting-a-car-for any-damages

Become a Vehicle Inspector

After gathering answers to your questions, it's time to thoroughly assess the vehicle:


Check for Rust

Inspect the underbody for rust by getting on your knees and using a flashlight. Look for paint bubbles in the lower door and fender areas, and lift trunk/hatch and cabin mats to examine for rust or flood damage.


Examine the Ground and Oily Parts

Use your eyes and a flashlight to search for leaks under the car, indicating potential costly engine, transmission, or differential issues. Check both the vehicle's underbody and the ground beneath it for signs of leaks.


Take a Quiet Drive

During the test drive, turn off the stereo and listen for unusual sounds. Drive at various speeds, including city and highway, and intentionally go over rough roads to identify squeaks and rattles. Use your nose to detect any odd smells that could hint at engine or transmission problems, exhaust leaks, or potential flood damage.


Drive Straight

Make sure the vehicle tracks in a straight line during the test drive. If it seems to be driving off on an angle while moving straight, it may only mean that it needs a wheel alignment, but it’s also possible that it could indicate significant body or suspension damage. Request confirmation of that. Check all tires for uneven wear or low tread.


Get a Mechanical Inspection

Consider a mechanical inspection if you're uncomfortable assessing the vehicle yourself. Mechanical inspection services offer convenient on-site inspections for added reassurance, even though it may cost around $250.



Develop a Comprehensive Checklist

If you're new to buying cars, it's okay not to remember all the advice here. Just make a checklist with the questions and tips mentioned earlier, and write it down to avoid forgetting anything. Keep emotions in check, ask the right questions, and enjoy the process of buying your used car.


Buy with Confidence - Explore Used Cars at CarHub Now

Buying a used car can be challenging, especially with high demand and shrinking inventories. To make an informed decision, ask essential questions about the car. Consider your budget and prioritize your needs and wants.


Choose CarHub for reliable assistance in finding the perfect match. Contact us today to explore suitable options.

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