10 Vital Questions To Have Answered When Purchasing A Used Vehicle

7 December 2011

Everyone in the market for a used vehicle has the same basic need to fill, transportation, but each person has their own individual emotional needs and tastes, too. It’s hard to give specific advice to car buyers, as they all seem to “know what they want,” but there are plenty of general rules and guidelines that are smart to follow, and they can be tailored to all kinds of different budgets and mindsets.

However you decide to shop, whether going online or using local classified ads, you should decide ahead of time how you are really going to use that new-to-you vehicle and how long you expect to keep it. Will it be for commuting to school or work? Will you be taking long trips to the mountains or seaside? Do you need to get a couple of kids into it and keep them safe on the Wild West roads of busy areas? Ask yourself these questions right away, and then you will be prepared to ask the top 10 vital questions to have answered when purchasing a used vehicle.

Do NOT be embarrassed to be direct and ask these questions. You will be plunking down some good money as a result of your search (the average price paid for a used car in 2008, according to Cars.com, was over $8000). Even if you’re buying a truck or a motorcycle, money doesn’t grow on trees, right?

Make sure you get honest answers by checking under the hood, in the repair reports, and in every other way you can. If you need a mechanic’s help, pay for it. You’re about to make a four-figure investment (or even five), so do it right!

The top 10 questions

Ownership: Ask sellers who owned the car before they did, if anyone. You want to know how many people contributed different driving and maintenance styles to the aging of this auto. If you can figure out how to get in touch with a previous owner, all the better for your task of getting “full disclosure.”

Mileage: Check the odometer yourself, of course, but ask sellers how many miles they personally put on the car (or truck or motorcycle). Between 10-15,000 miles per year is average, so calculate annual miles by dividing the odometer mileage by the age of the vehicle.

Reason for selling: Make sure to have your “intuition” turned on when you ask this question. If sellers claim they are moving but there are no packing boxes around their houses, don’t believe them. The seller is concerned with selling, and may leave out some information, like the fact the car fell into a river or that the engine mounts are about to drop off. You should never buy a car that you feel is being misrepresented, in any way at all.

Price: Forget the asking price, ask what the “bottom line best price” is. If it does not fit into your budget, ask if the price is negotiable. It should be. It’s a used vehicle after all, and unless you buy “pre-owned” from a dealer it doesn’t come with a warranty, or even a new car smell (unless the seller is smart enough to spray banana oil in the interior).

Extras or special features: By the way, if it does smell new, ask if the seller used banana oil. Also ask about anything else you notice. Does the air conditioning work? Are the power windows dependable? Does that aftermarket CD player come with it? Even more importantly, do all the optional accessories or add-ons work?

Damages: Has the vehicle been in any accidents or suffered any kind of major damage? The sellers should be aware that their answer can be checked even with the free version of the online “car facts” services. Take a good look at the paint in the door frames and the trunk edges (inside). If it doesn’t match the body exactly, there’s a dead giveaway that some major repairs have been performed.

Gas economy: Gas prices go up and gas prices go down. This is a good reason to inquire about the fuel economy of the vehicle. Again, you can check the seller’s answer online, but remember that the fuel efficiency figures assume a well-tuned engine and some other pretty sedate driving methods. Find out what the real-world numbers are on some car user forums.

Service records: Are there complete records of the repairs and maintenance? Are there any at all? One car forum participant told of purchasing a 1984 Volvo from someone who kept every records of every oil change, and even calculated gas mileage on business trips. The notes and receipts filled two spiral notebooks. The forum poster bought the car, drove it for five years, and when he sold it, that old Volvo still ran like a new car.

The test drive: Always ask to take a vehicle for a reasonable test drive. You can arrange to take the car to your own trusted mechanic at this time, to get a quick once-over.

The “emotional attachment” factor: Find out if the owner was happy with the vehicle. This is the one question you should never fail to ask, and the one usually met with the greatest surprise. It’s also the one that can cut through the sales talk and get right down to how the seller really thinks. There is just no hiding “pride of ownership,” and if the seller is proud of the car, that’s a great sign.


About The Author

At Robert Brogden Auto Plaza we have a large inventory of new and used cars kansas city. We are one of the finest Kansas City car dealers as well as offering GM Service and Parts. Visit us today for a free test drive. http://www.robertbrogden.com/

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