Sunday, August 15, 2010

Used Car Buying Questions

I live in a small city which means when I shop for a used car I have to drive a ways to go look at car I am interested in. After making a few hour long trips only to discover the car had a purchase stopping issue I could have discovered by phone if I had asked the right questions, I've slowly compiled a list of questions to ask about used cars.

- Is the car still available?
- Review of details and features:
- Make, Model, Year
- Mileage
- Color
- Extras that are important to you
- How many owners has the car had?
- How long has the car been on the market?
- What is the reason for sale?
- Has it been in any accidents?
- Is everything in working order? (AC, Power Doors / Windows)
- What is the condition of the upholstery and floor boards?
- What is the condition of the tires?
- Has it had any aftermarket additions?
- What mechanical work would expect the van will need in the first couple of years aside from oil service?
- Do you have service records?
- Was the work done at a dealer?
- If there are known issues this particular make / model tends to have ask about them. i.e. Has the car had any work done on its transmission?
- Has the car been owned by smokers?
- Does it have the original manuals?
- How much life is left on the tires?
- What is the condition of the upholstery and floor mats?
- Does it have a trailer hitch? (Can be a plus or minus. Cars with trailer hitches tend to have placed more wear on the transmission).
- What is the VIN?
- Are there are other parties interested in the van?
- How firm is your price? Are you willing to negotiate some?
- What is your test drive policy?

Used Car Dealer Specific Questions
- How did you acquire the car?
- What kind of work do you do to prepare cars you buy for sale?

So... its a fairly long list. I don't normally fit it all into one phone call. I first make an initial call with four or five basic questions. I call back later once I've processed the first conversation and maybe pulled a Carfax on the vehicle. If I let the seller know I am travelling a long distance to see the car, they tend to be helpful in answering the more detailed questions.

What questions do you ask before buying a used car? Please post in a comment. Thanks!

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