Questions to ask when buying a used car from a private seller

October 17, 2017

Purchasing a car is a difficult series of events. It’s a lot easier making decisions behind a computer than being faced with the car in person, which is why there are many questions to ask before any commitment.  

The secret to buying a car is asking the right questions. Especially with a used car, it goes beyond “how much does it cost?” and “what added features does it have?”. Getting a good deal is more than just price, it’s about the history. And unless you’re a car fanatic, you wouldn’t know better.

It’s good to have your questions mapped out when negotiating a deal. Here are a few to remember.

Why are you selling your car?

Chances are that when you ask the owner why they’re selling their car, they have already spent some time rehearsing the ideal answer to this. This open-ended question is asking the owner to lie to you, so try taking each reply with a pinch of salt. Another good thing would be to ask broad questions, “what is the car’s condition?” Or “what’s the interior like?” in between the main question, still putting the owner on the spot. It sounds tricky, but really, this is an investment for you. Be 100 percent sure before any decisions.

What is the ownership history?

It’s important to find out about the ownership history when looking to purchase a vehicle. With a dealership, it’s much easier to see the maintenance records. But if it’s with an owner, this is the first step to decision making. Make sure that whoever you speak to, has enough information to put you at ease.

How many kilometers are on the clock?

It may sound like the most obvious question, especially because you’ve seen it on the advert, but things change and so do amounts. Check everything yourself and ask questions. For most people, who have little knowledge on vehicles, they will even be able to match up the car and year models, and if it’s too much for the model or too little for the year, be sure to ask as many questions as possible to find out why.

What kind of fuel does the car take?

The kind of fuel intake you have has to do with the engine and its consumption. It’s important to ask this question because you will quickly be able to tell how much fuel you’ll be spending on your car. If it’s fuel-efficient, then you’re adding to the pros of purchasing that specific car.

Can the car be inspected by a mechanic?

When asking this question, you will be able to determine whether the car was serviced by a home-based mechanic or a reputable garage. If it’s been serviced by a garage, chances are that the car has been serviced regularly, and if not, don’t hit the warning signs just yet. Only if there is hesitation when requesting that it can be sent to a mechanic for an inspection, then you should be alarmed.

Can I see the maintenance history?

The kind of response to this question can be very similar to when asking about the mechanic inspection. When you’re chatting to the owner, it’s easy to suss out the truth amongst the lies. But when it comes to showing the maintenance history, be sure to see it on record and in your hand. You won’t be able to tell everything about the car’s life through this, but there’s a lot to learn from a full record.

Where was the car bought?

This does not only mean where it was bought (in terms of the dealership) but also the state that it was bought in. It’s always great when hearing that the current owner is the original owner, but finding out the location is always the deal breaker. The geographical background can indicate weather-related damages.

When you’re purchasing a more expensive vehicle, like a used Audi for sale, you would want to find out all the details about the car to make sure that your long-term investment is in the best possible condition.

Does it still have the original paint job?

As real and original as the car may look, this is one of the most important questions to ask. You can easily see if the car has been in an accident or for major repairs if the car has needed to be resprayed. Finding out about the paint is a good place to start in your used car inquisition.

Can you take it for a test drive?

The test drive is usually your make or break moment. When testing a private, used car, a test drive is not only about having a feel for the car and seeing how well-suited it is for your lifestyle, but it’s more about doing a test drive to see how the gearbox works and how the engine runs. No seller will deny you a test drive, but sometimes they will give you a time limit which could be worrisome.

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