16 Questions to Ask When Buying A Used Car

16 Questions to Ask When Buying A Used Car

Questions to Ask Before Seeing the Car In Person

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.

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When doing your research online, you’ll want to know key points like the year of the car, the mileage, and the overall condition. Read on below for questions to ask yourself during this research phase!

What is the Mileage On the Odometer?

Asking about the mileage on the car can give you a great inclination of the overall wear-and-tear and depreciation and value of the vehicle. Say you’re looking at a five-year-old crossover with 124,000 miles on its odometer. If your alarm bells aren’t ringing, they should be. That’s because the value of any used vehicle is based on how many miles are left on the car.

Why is the Owner Selling the Car?

If you’re looking at used cars owned by private owners, versus a third-party dealer, you should ask them why they are selling the car. Are they wanting to upgrade their family car for something bigger? Is there something wrong with the vehicle? Gaining some insights here, can only be beneficial before you view the car in person.

What is the Interior and Exterior Condition of the Vehicle?

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.

Does the Car Have a Salvage Title?

This could be a make or break question in your search for a used car. Salvage title vehicles are high risk and need to be carefully researched and considered. If the car has a salvage title, it means that the vehicle has been damaged in an incident and the cost of repairs would be more than the car is worth.

Are You Able to Test Drive the Car?

When you’re communicating with the seller of a used car that you’re interested in, asking them to test drive it is a crucial point in the decision-making process. You should never buy a used car that you have not been able to test drive and if the seller declines, you should write off that vehicle as an option.

How Many Owners Has the Vehicle Had?

It can be helpful to know the number of owners a car has had, and who owned it for how long. If the seller is not sure, or there is no documented vehicle history, this may be the reason for caution.

Covid-19 has led to an increase in used car sales as people avoid mass transportation and are more sensitive to auto costs in the recession. — CNBC

Questions to Ask When Seeing the Car 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.

If a seller ever declines to let you test drive or view the maintenance and vehicle history of the car, you should take that as a big red flag and consider taking your business elsewhere!

Has the Car Been in Any Accidents?

Knowing about the incident history of a used vehicle is a question that should be addressed, and if the seller avoids it, that is a cause for concern. You should be informed of any accidents a vehicle has been in and if the repairs have been made or not.

Does the Car Have a Maintenance Record?

A key question to ask when buying a used car is about the car’s maintenance records. Did the previous owner or owners get regular tune-ups and oil changes? If there was ever an accident, were the repairs recorded? You can also ask the seller for a copy of the CarFax report or look for it online.

Does the Car Have Any Current Recalls?

It never hurts to ask the seller or dealership if they know of any recalls the car may have. A recall could be anything from faulty airbags or a technical fix of the car’s system. You can also look up the vehicle’s VIN which will tell you information on that specific vehicle.

Is the Vehicle Under Any Warranty?

If you’re buying a car from a private seller, they may not have this information, however, a dealership should have access to warranty information. Knowing whether or not the car is covered under warranty is useful information and could limit additional coverage costs for you.

Can You Have the Car Inspected by A Mechanic of Your Choice?

Another question you should ask when buying a used car is if you can have the car inspected by your own trusted mechanic. This is especially important if the vehicle’s maintenance history is spotty or non-existent. Having the car inspected by someone of your choice can give you peace of mind and determine if it’s worth buying or not.

Are there Any Special Features or Lack Thereof in the Vehicle?

When you’re viewing the car in person, one thing to note is if there are any special features or lack of them in the vehicle. This could be things like automatic dimming mirrors, automatic seats, bluetooth capabilities or keyless entry. If the car lacks features that make you feel more comfortable when driving, then this is something to consider.

Does the Current Owner Have the Title in Hand?

If you’re buying the car from a private seller, then they should be able to present you with the vehicle title, which proves that they actually own the car and the VIN matches the make and model you are viewing. The title is also the official document that deems whether it is salvaged or not, so it is an important factor to have when in the buying process.

3 Bonus Questions You May Not Have Thought Of

Here are some miscellaneous questions you may not have thought about, but will appreciate asking!

Did the Vehicle Transport Any Animals?

This may be especially important if you have any allergies to animals or don’t want a car that may not have had the cleanliness you desire. Asking the seller or owner if the car ever had animals in it, will tell you all you need to know.

Did the Car’s Previous Owner(s) Smoke?

Just because a car is used, does not mean that it has to look or smell used. Knowing if the car was ever smoked in, can help you in your decision.

Does the Car Still Have a Spare and Jack?

If you wouldn’t buy a car without functioning seatbelts, then you may want to ask if the car comes with a spare and jack (you’ll need them if you know how to change a tire). Better safe than sorry! When viewing the car, make sure the spare tire looks to be in good condition, as well.


Buying a used car is no easy feat and with the demand for used vehicles rising, inventories are declining, so competition is even tougher! There are many questions to ask when buying a used car that will help bring you to an educated decision. Keep your budget in mind and a shortlist of reasonable wants and needs when addressing these questions. There’s never too much information, especially when it comes to making a big purchase like buying a used car!

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