Making a high ticket purchase should always be a careful decision. You can’t get the best value for your money if you don’t collect as much information as possible from as many sources as possible.
If you don’t know how to read minds, the best way to collect information would be to ask questions.
Coming up with questions to ask a car dealer can be arduous, so we’ve come up with a couple of questions to ask when buying a used car from a private seller.
Questions when buying a used car from a private seller
1- What is the car’s mileage?
A car’s mileage is one of those few statistics that lower is better. The higher the mileage on a vehicle, the more use it has seen, and the more likely it will break down quickly.
If you’re buying a new car, you don’t need to worry about the mileage because it’s often near-zero.
However, buying a used car is a different story. A used car will almost certainly have some mileage to it, but you should go as low as possible to squeeze the most life out of your soon-to-be vehicle.
You should still be wary of buying a car with dangerously low mileage. A ten-year-old car with sub-10,000 miles on it can’t be an honest deal. Unless you can get honest reasons why it’s that low, you should consider not buying it.
Also, a car with dangerously high mileage will wear out its parts much quickly due to the excessive workload it had to cope with from the previous owners.
2- Why are you selling the car?
People sell cars for many reasons. Some people want an upgrade, while some need some money and won’t mind a downgrade.
However, there is another group in between. While this group either wants an upgrade or a downgrade, there is a specific twist to it. They only want a change because they couldn’t get the car to work as they want.
Now, this needs no telling that you should stay away from this group. If you end up buying a car from someone tired of caring for his car, prepare to be tired on your first day.
However, it’s almost impossible to get someone to admit that their car hasn’t been in good shape ever since it was involved in an accident two years and eight months ago.
To get such information, you may have to ask why they’re selling the car. If they answer enthusiastically, and they’re even willing to tell you more about the ‘awesomeness’ of the car, they usually have nothing to hide.
Otherwise, you may have to do some background checks to make sure you’re not buying a damaged car.
3- Is the vehicle under warranty, or is it being sold as-is?
Buying a car from a private seller means you may not get any buyer’s guide, ruling out the possibility of learning about the car’s warranty status yourself.
That’s why you need to learn if the car is still under warranty from the seller. Reading through the vehicle’s papers can also lend you some insight into the vehicle’s warranty policies and duration.
If a warranty is available on the car, inquire what the warranty covers. Most car warranties cover the damages that occur from normal use and don’t apply during incidents that happen if you don’t use the car properly.
Also, you should check for the possibilities of paying for an extended warranty. An extended warranty is a service contract where the dealer agrees to fund the car’s repairs for an extra cost.
If you can’t get a regular car warranty, you may want to save some money for the future, in case the car gets damaged.
If you can, get a warranty at all costs. It’s a car-saver.
4- Has the car been in any accidents?
Cars get into accidents; that’s not a big deal. However, if the accident was so severe that it required a significant overhaul, you should be worried.
Most cars continue to have problems, even after undergoing an overhaul after an accident. Getting your hands on one of those will only prove to be a pain over the long term.
Try to verify that the owner isn’t selling the car because it won’t work properly after a major accident.
If the seller admits that the car has been in an accident, ask for the areas that were majorly affected. Call for a motor mechanic to inspect the areas to verify that they’re in perfect working condition.
In essence, no matter how good a car may look, you should always think twice before buying a vehicle that has undergone significant wrecks or accidents.
You don’t want problems with your car after buying it, do you?
5- Can I hire a mechanic for independent inspection before buying?
You’ll ideally hire a home inspector when renting a house, right?
If so, you should also be hiring a mechanic to inspect a car you want to buy. Mechanics have more experience with vehicles, and they can figure out problems that you could never have by mere inspection.
The seller’s willingness to have you bring a mechanic over for inspection could mean that the car is mechanically sound, as far as the seller knows.
However, if a private seller isn’t willing to let you bring over your mechanic to inspect the vehicle, it means they may be hiding something.
Since you’ll be the car’s owner soon, you don’t want anyone to hide anything from you. If you can’t talk them into allowing you to bring a mechanic for inspection, you can walk away.
Also, try to find a mechanic and bring him over yourself. You don’t want the seller’s best friend dressed as a mechanic to come telling you that everything is fine with the car.
6- How long have you owned the car?
If you’re buying a car from its first owner, you have better chances of knowing how well it has been treated compared to buying from the second or third owners.
However, this doesn’t mean you should rule out second-hand cars. In some cases, going for the older vehicles will be the better deal overall.
If someone has been driving a car for years, and either you or your mechanic can’t find a fault in it, it means the vehicle is reliable, or the owner has been taking good care of it.
A vehicle that’s well taken care of is the perfect kind of car you were out for, isn’t that right?
However, this doesn’t always tell the whole story. Knowing how long someone has owned a car gives you a clue of how many years of service logs you’ll be getting.
Overall, this question shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but you should know if the seller has been the owner of the car for most of its life.
7- Have you ever repaired/replaced anything on the car?
Since the car will likely be yours in a couple of days or weeks, the seller should be willing to open up on the changes they’ve done to the car so far.
Recent updates to the car may imply that you need to pay more for the vehicle. New vehicle parts are usually better than the replaced worn-out ones, and you must make it up to the repairer.
Before concluding that the repair was an upgrade or a downgrade, you should consider having your mechanic check out the state of the replaced parts.
If they appear to be satisfied with it, you may continue with negotiations with the vehicle.
If the vehicle has had too many replacements over the years, it may signify negligence on the part of the previous owner. You shouldn’t buy a car from someone who doesn’t take good care of it, should you?
8- Can I take a test drive; how long?
Before paying for a used car, it’s crucial to test how well it performs in the real world. Statistics and speculations only work to some extent. If you don’t test-drive the thing, you won’t have the complete experience.
Ask the seller if you can take the car on a test drive and bring your mechanic along. If the answer to either of these is no, don’t even consider paying for the car.
However, if you have the opportunity to test-drive a car before buying, you should look out for all the potential problems that the car might have.
A test drive is not an avenue for you to celebrate your first ride. You must approach it with a negative sentiment if you want any chances of fishing out any problems.
If you don’t think you’re up to the task, you can bring a mechanic along during the test drive. With their experience, mechanics can tell what’s wrong with a car by just coming along in a ride.
However, try focusing on the general exterior of the vehicle. Look out for any cracks or rust; they’ll either shape your decision or help your negotiation.
9- Can we fix the car’s problems before the deal?
After taking your test drive and having a motor mechanic look at all the vehicle’s problems, you should ask the seller about them.
Sometimes, the seller will be willing to make the repairs before initiating the purchase. Ask for the possibility of getting the problems fixed before the purchase.
If they’re not willing to fix the problems before the sale, you may negotiate from that standpoint. If you have to make so many repairs on a vehicle, why pay enormous amounts of money for it anyway?
If the seller won’t acknowledge these problems or doesn’t seem to want to consider them for the negotiation, you may want to find another car.
If the deal is a sweet one, either way, there’s no harm in buying the car and fixing the problems afterward.
10- Are the interior and exterior generally good?
When buying a car, looks are not everything. However, something contributes effectively to everything.
Look out for scratches in the paints, dents in the body frame, and rusts on the surface. Look out for anything that affects the general look and feel of the car. You don’t need a mechanic to help you do that.
Also, check out the windshield wipers and the side view mirrors for any signs of damage. While these contribute to the exterior of the vehicle, they aren’t necessarily cosmetic.
The tires and wheels complete the exterior test. Faulty tires generally impact the total cost of the vehicle, and you can negotiate a decrease from the standpoint.
Also, you should check the interiors of the car during the test drive. Look at the seats and seats on them to have the general feel of the vehicle.
You should also take time to inspect the internal lights of the vehicle. Do you get the appropriate lights when you turn something on or off?
Check the car’s accessories to make sure they work. It’s not rare to see a used car with a faulty air conditioner or CD player. Remember, every discovered flaw is a way to negotiate for a better price.
Used cars are all the rage now because of their initial costs. However, if you purchase a faulty car, the costs will climb up pretty quickly, punishing you for not getting a new car.
If you want to avoid the unnecessary hassle associated with buying used cars, you should gather as much information as possible before the purchase.
The best way to gather the needed information is by asking questions. Questions reveal things you wouldn’t have known about the vehicle, helping you make better decisions.
If you don’t know what to ask, we’ve compiled ten questions to ask when buying a used car from a private seller.
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