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Questions To Ask When Buying A Car

Before you decide a car is worth seeing in person, there are numerous questions to ask yourself when considering all aspects of a used car. The more information you have on hand, the better buyer you will become and the more confident you can be in making your decision.

questions to ask when buying a car

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Asking about the condition of the vehicle is a great question to ask when buying a used car. If there are pictures available to view, make note of them so that you can access any damage should you decide to see it in person.

Once you have narrowed down your used car options and have the answers to the questions above, you are ready to view your cars of interest in person! Being able to see, sit in, and drive the car will make or break your decision to buy.

Check your credit score and credit report to gauge the health of your credit history, and if there are some improvements you can make, take the time to address those before you proceed with the car-buying process. This can take time, but the lower interest rate and monthly payment can be worth it.

A vehicle sitting in the classifieds or on a dealership lot may have many stories to tell, as long as you know what questions to ask when buying a used car. Shopping for a used car can seem like a challenge, and you're not alone if you feel this way. Arming yourself with strong questions could help you know what you're getting into.

When shopping around, don't be afraid to grill a salesperson. Off the bat they may lack answers, but that's nothing a little digging on their part can't solve. What about questions to ask when buying a used car from a private party? The good news is that private-party sellers may know more about their cars than dealers do. After all, they've probably been driving the vehicle for a while, and in some cases, they may even have owned it since new.

A "yes" to either of these does not have to automatically lead to a "no" from you, but it should open some follow-up questions, such as the severity of damages incurred and extensiveness of repairs. Documentation for these items is critical as it can be hard to take a seller at their word.

If you are serious about buying the car, ask if you can take it to a mechanic for an inspection. Credible sellers should not balk at this. Consider any pushback to this request a red flag. A visit to the mechanic may cost you $100, but it could help you avoid buying a lemon and will give you peace of mind that the vehicle is roadworthy.

From conversations with dealers and industry analysts from Edmunds, J.D. Power, Kelley Blue Book, TrueCar, Cox, and more over the past several months, we've compiled the questions consumers might want to ask before they make one of their biggest purchases.

Generally speaking, car buying is never going back to normal. Many automakers are swapping market share for profits and prioritizing higher-end, luxury vehicles instead of starter cars. Meanwhile, dealers learned from all the demand that they don't have to have the same amount of inventory on their lots as they might have pre-pandemic.

Purchasing a used vehicle can at first seem like an intimidating experience, but if you know the right questions to ask and have the right information at your disposal, you can navigate the process easily and with confidence.

Use some questions to ask customers in the middle of the sales process. You may think a sale is going well, but they may still have questions in the back of their mind they feel nervous to ask. You could ask them:

The new car market continues to thrive, and prices remain at an all-time high. So, even if you feel like a seasoned veteran when it comes to negotiation and car buying there are still a few key points to cover to ensure you get the best deal. Make sure the dealer can answer these questions before signing off on a new vehicle.

In some cases, you will qualify for a rebate or incentive when you purchase a new vehicle. This perk generally reduces your purchase price after taxes.These range from deals during certain times of the year to those available for certain groups, like veterans or students.

For simplicity's sake, buying directly from the seller may be the best way to go, but if you have a car you want to trade in or are interested in buying a certified pre-owned car (often more expensive, but these are inspected and usually have a warranty), you'll need to go through a dealer.

The car's current owner may have an idea of what parts are on the brink of going out (or already need to be replaced). And while in an ideal world, sellers would be up front and honest, Olsen says that when you're buying used, you should always have a mechanic who you know and trust look over the car.

Wait. Before you agree to buy that new car, take a few minutes to ensure there are no hidden problems that will surface when you're in the middle of signing the contract. This also is your last chance to use your leverage to sweeten the deal a little more.

These questions are "deal testers," a way for you to verify the terms, become familiar with all the fees and make the delivery process more convenient. The list includes two questions specifically for people who did most of their shopping via the internet and are making a deal over the phone. (We highly recommend the internet car shopping route since it is faster, less stressful and will often get you a better price.)

2. How much is your documentation fee? All car dealers charge a documentation ("doc") fee when you buy a car. This means they actually charge you for filling out the contract. It seems strange, but it's universal. What isn't universal is the amount dealers charge for the doc fee. Some states cap the doc fee, usually at a price below $100. Other states don't regulate the doc fee, so it can be as much as $600. While expensive in some states, these fees have become standard fare in the car business. If you're in a state without a capped fee and feel the price is too high, your time will be better spent negotiating the price of the car rather than getting the dealer to waive the doc fee.

3. Are there any dealer-installed options on the car? Most cars come with options installed at the factory when the car is built. But sometimes the dealer adds items as a way to boost profit. Popular add-ons include nitrogen-filled tires, window tinting, wheel locks, all-weather floor mats, paint protection and more. These are called dealer "add-ons" and the markup can be quite steep. A common add-on is LoJack, a vehicle recovery system. Dealers often add the system's cost to all the new cars in its inventory. Seeing it on every vehicle makes it seem as though it comes standard, but it's an item the dealer has added. We're not saying you should never buy a car with dealer add-ons. But you want to know about any add-ons well in advance, ideally when you're soliciting a price quote. Know that there's a markup on them and negotiate accordingly.

4. How many miles are on the car? This is particularly important for internet shoppers who might not have seen the car yet. You would think that every new car has less than 10 miles on the odometer. But in some cases, the car might have gone on a lot of test drives or is a "dealer trade," meaning the dealer traded another car for it and it's been driven in from another dealership. If there are more than about 300 miles on the car, you need to negotiate a lower price. If the car has been on the lot for a while or has a few hundred miles on it, you may want to ask for the "in-service date" of the vehicle. It's usually on the date you buy the car, but not always. The in-service date is when the warranty begins, and it is important to know how much coverage you have.

You need to establish what the right price is for the car as well as whether it is the right vehicle for you. These questions will help you establish some core information about the car so you can make an informed decision.

This question is important as it can help you determine if there is any urgency on the part of the seller. If the seller indicates that they need the money for something specific such as purchasing a new vehicle, this could help you when negotiating the price.

Sellers will of course choose the best photos when advertising a used car for sale. Make sure you inspect the exterior of the car thoroughly and ask the seller to point out any damage. Damage to the exterior of the car is not only costly to repair but can affect the resale value of the vehicle.

This question can provide important information as to how much research the seller has done when pricing the car for sale. If the seller has done significant research online you may find there is little room for negotiation if a lot of thought has gone into it. Checking their reasoning will provide a good process for you to determine if you think the price is fair.

After you have asked these questions, you should have a lot of information about the car. The next step is to decide if you are serious about purchasing the car. If so, you should begin trying to establish what you think a fair value is for the car. is an independent, advertising-supported publisher. This website includes display advertising and many of the links on this website are affiliate links. We have financial relationships with some of the companies or third parties responsible for the products and services we mention, recommend, or write about on this website. Please see full details in our advertising disclosure. We may receive compensation when you click a link on this website and make a qualifying purchase. Please see our editorial guidelines to understand how this may impact how products and/or services appear on this website.

If you are in good financial standing, you can talk about your options with an auto lender to understand what type of price range you are working with and what is an optimal monthly payment plan for you. Checking your finances before buying a car will also help you figure out ways you can make improvements to your credit score and savings. 041b061a72


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