Buying a used car can entail unexpected costs and comes with increased risks, especially if you don’t know how to look for and choose a good one.
In purchasing a secondhand car, it’s not enough to look at the aesthetics. As a mechanical unit, the car engine and its spare parts should be in tiptop shape to ferry you seamlessly wherever you want to go.
There are a few questions that will help you discover more about the used car’s history and use. But more than just asking important questions, it’s critical that you ask a mechanic to check the car’s interior and exterior condition. This due diligence will help prevent headaches and problems down the road.
Avoid buyer’s regret by asking the following important questions before buying a used car:
Why Are You Selling Your Car?
Some people sell their cars to get rid of completely good-looking yet mechanically dysfunctional vehicles. If you’re going to ask this question bluntly, don’t expect to get an honest answer, as it’s in the seller’s interest to sell the car while hiding its imperfections. Finding out more about the vehicle you’re eyeing is essential these days, especially since used car prices saw an increase earlier this year—the first spike in several decades—due to supply shortages.
Do You Have A Service History Report And Mileage Records?
Regular preventive vehicular maintenance and proper usage are two of the main contributors to keeping a vehicle in ideal condition, despite its age. To give you an idea of how the vehicle was maintained, ask the seller for the car’s service records.
For reference, oil changes should ideally be done every three to five months or 5,000 to 7,000 miles. Air filters should be replaced every 15,000 to 20,000 miles, and brake fluids flushed every two years. In addition, tires should be checked every 6,000 miles. If you’re not sure about the tire’s condition, visit a shop specialized in the tire sale and have them checked or replaced there.
In some old vehicles, it’s easy to tamper with the mileage on the odometer to make it appear that the vehicle has traveled less than it actually has. To check whether the figure reflected in the odometer is realistic, ask for mileage records.
Do You Know Of Any Parts That Need Repair?
Minor problems such as faulty Bluetooth connectivity or speakers are understandable in a secondhand vehicle. But the real deal breakers are problems that require pricey repair costs such as engine issues, weak air conditioning, or transmission and radiator problems.
If the seller isn’t willing to volunteer information related to car defects, consider having the vehicle checked by your trusted mechanic.
Has This Car Been Part Of An Accident Before?
It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a luxury or budget vehicle; car safety is essential, which can’t be stressed enough. Knowing if the vehicle for sale has been involved in a serious accident, and probing how the accident happened, will give you an idea of the vehicle’s safety.
You can also conduct due diligence by researching the car’s safety features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and impact-resistant glass, among others.
Can I Have My Mechanic Check the Vehicle?
Of all the questions, this may be the most important one. In most cases, it’s best to take a mechanic with you once you’re scheduled to see the car.
A mechanic is the most qualified person to look for any current and potential damages, as well as faulty car parts. Looking under the hood, an auto expert will check the engine condition, oil gauges, and discolorations that may mean the vehicle is in need of expensive repairs.
List all the problems noted by your mechanic, as you can use it to negotiate for price cuts later.
How Many Have Owned This Car?
This question may give you an idea about an inherent problem with the vehicle. If the car is relatively new but has had a few owners already, it could mean that the vehicle is problematic. While this isn’t always the case, it helps to think about this possibility.
You can check the car for engine troubles by observing if it’s emitting too much smoke. A car with these problems would need significant repairs.
Can I Take It For A Spin?
A vehicle may seem to be in good condition on paper, but to determine whether it’s meant for you, ask for a test drive. While using the car, you’ll have an idea about its performance strengths and weaknesses. Try all the speed levels and check whether you hear unusual noises or delays.
The Bottom Line
Buying a used car carries with it specific risks. Asking the right questions, knowing the things to look for, and having a professional check the condition of the vehicle are essential steps that’ll help you arrive at an informed decision.