Buying a used car from a dealer can be a real challenge for any consumer. Whether the dealer got the vehicle from an auction or a trade-in, they may not be able to provide you with the complete information you need. It is crucial to get as many details on your used vehicle as possible to help you make a wise decision and avoid any potential issues in the future. If you are wondering what to ask before buying a car, here are smart questions to ask your used car dealer.
1. Where Did the Used Car Come From?
Whether the car you’re eyeing is from an exclusively used vehicle dealership or a new franchise dealer, you need to know where it came from. This helps you keep track of your maintenance history accurately. Used vehicles are available from various sources. You can find them directly from new car dealer trade-ins, demos, rental car fleets, auctions (within a dealer franchise network or wholesale), and other car dealers.
2. What Is the Car’s Ownership History?
Aside from knowing where the car came from, ask about its ownership history. It is one of the most important factors that impact your car buying process. If the car has been owned for a short time or the seller doesn’t provide many details, it could be a warning sign. Pay attention to keywords, such as original owner or service records when looking for good used vehicles.
3. Has the Car Been in Any Accidents?
Vehicle history reports provide you with more details about the car, including accidents. However, not all reports show everything. It is still best to ask directly if the car got involved in an accident, the scope of the damage, and how it was fixed.
4. Was the Used Vehicle Serviced at a Dealership?
Some used vehicles sit on a dealer lot for weeks and months. That’s why it is crucial to know if the current dealer has done any repairs or scheduled maintenance on the used car. Ask if the car maintenance is up-to-date. If it was recently serviced, this could mean lesser costs for you in the future. In some cases, sellers will even suggest you talk with the mechanic who worked on the used car.
5. Can You Get the Inspection for a Certified Pre-Owned Used Vehicle?
A manufacturer Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle is another option to consider when buying a used car. These vehicles are usually from the same dealer that you are shopping at. Many CPO cars offer low-mileage lease returns with a new car-like warranty. They have also been inspected and maintained at the dealer. Ask the seller for the CPO inspection notes to know the car’s mechanical condition and if it needs any servicing in the future.
6. Can You Take the Used Car for a Test Drive?
It is always a good idea to do a test drive to help you decide whether to buy a used vehicle or not. Before you begin discussing the price with the dealer, take the car for a proper test drive to ensure that it meets your needs. Most car dealerships will let you test any of their used cars. If the dealer is hesitant, you may want to think twice about doing business with them.
7. How Did the Dealer Arrive at This Price?
If you are really serious about buying a used car, you can get more information by asking how the dealer priced it. Most sellers follow a pricing guide to set their prices. You can double-check and calculate it yourself to determine if the pricing is accurate.
8. What Car Features Are Not Working Properly?
Older, used vehicles will almost always have some components that are not working the way they are supposed to. Know which features are malfunctioning, like defective airbags, blown speakers, missing pixels, or weak air conditioning.
9. Does the Dealer Accept Trade-Ins for Your Existing Vehicle?
If you want to get rid of a car or truck you currently own, ask the dealer if they accept it as a trade-in. This can help you pay for your potential vehicle and save you the hassle of selling your existing car on your own. Trade-ins provide you with an opportunity to get a better price, especially if your vehicle is similar to those the dealer currently stocks.
10. Is There an In-House Financing Option?
Find out if your dealer offers in-house financing. Although new car franchise dealers provide that type of service, many used vehicle dealers don’t have manufacturer-backed financing. If the dealer does offer in-house financing, get as much information as you can. You may obtain a better deal by going to a bank or financial institution for a traditional car loan.
11. Will There Be Any New Parts, Equipment, or Accessories Included on the Used Car?
Once you have agreed on a final price, you can take this opportunity to sweeten the deal by asking the dealer if they will add any new equipment or accessories. This could come in the form of a set of new tires and rims, a cargo or trunk liner, or all-season floor mats.
12. Will There Be a Discount if You Buy the Used Car With Cash?
While dealers may profit from selling financing products, many still opt for a cash purchase. If you choose to skip the traditional financing method and buy with cash, ask for the discounted price of the vehicle.