If you don’t know much about automobiles, then not knowing the right questions to ask when shopping for one can make the experience that much more intimidating. The old adage, “you don’t know what you don’t know” really rings true. Before you get started with specific questions, make sure you understand how to use KBB to figure out the car value. When it comes to car shopping, a little research can go a long way. However, nothing can replace a few good questions. In the long run, once you’ve driven off in your newly acquired vehicle, the questions you asked are your best defense against buyer’s remorse.
So, let’s say you’re looking at a two-door sports car. It’s red. It’s shiny. It’s fun. And, it’s used. But that’s okay, because it fits nicely within your budget. Before you start signing paperwork, however, you should ask if that nice, shiny, red paint is the car’s original color. Why you ask? Well, if the car was originally blue, there’s probably a reason why it’s now red. Maybe the former owner just wanted a red sports car; there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. However, if the car was involved in a crash, and the result was some serious front-end damage, that’s a different matter. If the repairs from that crash required plenty of bodywork to go with the new paint, you should know about it. And just because the aesthetics were given a face lift doesn’t mean there aren’t problems lurking through the frame, suspension and powertrain.
Who knew that asking about the car’s paint could open up such a larger conversation about past repairs? Regardless of how you got to that conversation, one thing is certain — the road to car-buying satisfaction is paved with curiosity.
Questions To Ask When Buying A Used Car
There are two types of questions you should ask at a car dealership. One type looks for specific information, while the other type seeks possible red flags. Here are some examples of each:
Specific Information Questions
- Does the car come with a spare tire and jack?
- What is the condition of the tires?
- What is the status of the brake pads?
- When did the car last go through safety and emissions testing? Did it pass?
- Does the car have a clear title?
- Are there any signs of smoking or pet damage?
- How much is this car after fees and licensing?
- How many miles are on the car?
- Does the car have a current and comprehensive schedule of maintenance history?
- Are there any outstanding recalls on the car?
- Is the car still under warranty?
- Is this the best price you can offer?
Red Flag Seeking Questions
- Has this car ever been repainted?
- What mandatory fees do I have to pay?
- Have optional fees been automatically included?
- Can I test drive the car?
- Why are you pricing the car this way?
- What dealer-installed options are on this car?
- Can I see this car’s maintenance schedule history?
- Would you drive this car from coast-to-coast tomorrow?
- Can I take this to my licensed mechanic?
- How many previous owners have had this car?
- Is the car certified pre-owned by the manufacturer?
- Is there a return policy or a repairs policy if I discover anything wrong with the car after buying it?
Know What You’re Getting Into
Before getting that shiny, red sports car you’re thinking of buying, you’ll want to understand exactly what kind of deal you’re getting yourself into. After all, the last thing you need is a car that has a huge leak under the hood that will cost you a bunch of money to fix. Asking the right questions can give you a better idea of what condition the car is in and what future maintenance and care will look like if you drive off with the car.