It’s no surprise that buying a used car isn’t exactly a fun experience. Mostly because you are dealing with a lot of unknowns with a dealer who is potentially working against you. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t come out of the process with a great vehicle for a reasonable price, you just have to know the right questions to ask, like the ones below.
What Can You Tell Me About the Previous Owner or Driver?
This is the obvious question to ask. Of course, it’s also the most commonly lied to, given that no car dealer wants to tell you that the previous owner was a teenager learning to drive or a courier who used the car for most of the day. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth asking the question.
When you hear the answer, ask a few follow-up questions or press any areas of their response that doesn’t seem right. Remember to treat them with respect as they could be telling the truth, however, be conscious.
What Can You Tell Me About Vehicle Maintenance?
The type of usage the vehicle saw can say a lot about the quality that the vehicle is in now. As an example, if the vehicle was used by the courier mentioned above then it may not have received regular maintenance as the vehicle was being used constantly. Conversely, if the car was previously leased by a car hire company then it is reasonable to expect that regular maintenance was provided.
Can I Take It for a Spin?
A strange question to be on the list, no? Not really, when you discover that many car dealers won’t allow you to drive any of the cars on their lot. Instead, they insist on driving the car with you on the passenger side. While some will tell you that it can reduce their insurance requirements which can result in lower sale prices across the floor, the reality of the situation is that you are expected to buy a car that you haven’t driven.
Long story short; if you can’t drive it, don’t buy it.
When Can My Mechanic Check It Out?
This is another telling question, with the answer potentially giving you a serious indication that you shouldn’t buy the vehicle. It doesn’t matter what reason or excuse the dealer gives you for not allowing your mechanic to view and inspect the car, if they say no, you say no. Simple as that.
The only reason that a dealer won’t allow an independent mechanic to inspect the vehicle is that there is something wrong with the vehicle that they don’t want to be known.
Do You Know If It’s Even Been in a Collision?
While your mechanic’s inspection will likely be able to tell you, it’s worth asking the question. A vehicle that has been in a collision, repaired or not, is not considered to be as safe as one that just rolled off the lot. With this in mind, consider the impact of any collision damage on the safety features inside the car, along with any insurance premium adjustments that you may need to make.
Buying a second-hand car isn’t the impossible task, but it sure isn’t an easy one. However, when you are speaking with a dealer, start with these questions and see where the negotiations and conversations take you.