I’ve partnered with Fletcher Chrysler to help you prepare when you are buying a used car. Interviewing the seller of a vehicle or a salesman at a dealership guarantees two things:
- Finding out as much as possible about an advertised vehicle before you go to see it.
- Getting an early read on the seller, whether it’s an individual or a dealership, to try and reduce your chances of buying someone else’s problems.
Please note that most of these questions are legitimate for used-car dealers as well. The more documentation they have on the car, the better. You can ask for a phone number of the previous owner if the dealer doesn’t have many details. Or ask for a Car Fax.
Why is the vehicle being sold?
You want to hear things like, “I’m ready for an upgrade.” “I want to buy a bigger vehicle for my family.” or “The previous owners traded it in for a car to welcome their new baby.” Those are the things that a buyer wants to hear. If you’re buying from a private seller and you hear hesitation, or the words “junk, garbage, high mileage,” or anything else like that, quickly run the other way!
A dealership will also show you the CarFax, and answer all of your questions honestly and without hesitation.
How many miles are on the odometer?
A used vehicle’s mileage helps determine its value, which will be important during negotiations. You can research values in our used car pricing tool before meeting the seller or heading to the dealership. Most dealers will have the amount of miles listed on their site.
What’s the condition of the vehicle?
Thi is a very neutral and broad question. It will help the seller or dealer tell you about both structural and mechanical conditions. Also don’t be afraid to lead them in the direction you need them to, so that all of your questions regarding this topic will be answered.
Does it have any special features?
How a vehicle is equipped also affects its value. Are the seats upholstered in leather? Are there any fancy gadgets? Is it equipped with air conditioning? Does it have a sunroof/moonroof? Heated seats? The more features a car has the higher the price will be, but also don’t forget to ask which features don’t work.
Are you the original owner?
I just bought a used vehicle with one original owner. The condition of the car was excellent! I saw my same vehicle from the same year being sold by a private seller and it was in deplorable condition but the seller wanted an even higher price than the dealership I went to! Single-owner vehicles are definitely preferred and will assist you in getting more honest and factual answers to your questions.
Was the vehicle ever involved in an accident?
This question is important! Do not forget to ask it. This will tell you what is original to the vehicle and what has been repaired due to an accident. Vehicles that have been in collisions are prone to more problems and are worth less. A dealership will be able to tell you this for sure.
Do you have service records for it?
An owner who was meticulous enough to keep service records was probably meticulous enough to take good care of the vehicle – and fortunately, you can find out. Always ask for records, always.
How much are you asking for it?
Again, the wording is important. It suggests that the price the seller quotes should be negotiable.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Dealers love it when buyers are prepared and know what they are looking for. This helps them determine the right car for you, and offer you as much information as they have available.