Questions for buying a used car

Before you write a check to an individual selling a used car, there are some important questions that you should ask. The following questions are critical to making a safe and cost-effective decision.

A good place to start is to ask the seller:

  • Did you buy the car new or used?
  • Why do you want to sell the car?

If the seller indicates that he or she cannot afford the repairs or maintenance the car needs, you might want to keep looking. But if the seller is simply is ready for a new car, the used car may be a good candidate for resale.

Also ask:

  • Has the car ever had any flood or water damage?
  • Has the car ever been in a major accident?

If the car has had to have some parts or systems repaired or replaced, depending on the severity of the collision, you may choose to forgo its purchase. You can also research the car’s history by obtaining a Vehicle History Report at CARFAX. If you decide to continue investigating the car you will need to ask the following:

  • If you can see copies of the repair records.
  • If the seller does not have the repair records, what repair shop took care of the car? Can you look at their files?

Another smart question to ask is:

  • Has the car has passed state inspection?

If a car has not passed state inspection, there may be a problem with its emission tests or other features that are meant to keep you and other drivers safe on the road.

  • And before you make your decision, be sure to ask if you can take the car on a test drive.

Sellers who will not allow the car to be taken on a test drive may have something to hide. It is a good idea to test drive the car so you can listen and feel for any problems with the car’s handling, as well as to determine whether you are comfortable with the car’s size and features.

Once a car passes your inspection and that of a mechanic, you can ask the seller:

  • Is the price negotiable?

If you or the mechanic encountered any problem areas, you can use the cost of repair as leverage when negotiating the price. If you think the seller’s asking price is fair, negotiating may not be an issue.

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