Important Questions to Ask a Used Car Dealer


You are on the hunt for a used car—maybe it is all you can afford, or perhaps you just do not see the need to spend all that money on a new car. Regardless of your motivations, it can be a daunting process. Used car dealers do not exactly have the best reputations, and the thought of dealing with a smooth-talker with an aggressive sales pitch makes you uncomfortable; you fear purchasing a lemon that will give you nothing but one headache after the other. While there are no guarantees when it comes to purchasing a used car, or anything for that matter, there are some important questions to ask that can minimize your risk.


Can I See a Vehicle History Report?

Vehicle history reports are an important piece of the used car buying puzzle. They will provide a wealth of important information such as whether the car was in any accidents and what sort of repairs it has undergone. Any hesitation is a major red flag. Also, always make sure the VIN number on the report matches the VIN number of the car you are looking at.

How Long Can I Test Drive the Vehicle?

The used car market is not exactly piping hot, and you should try to get an extended, overnight test drive. Taking the car for a ten-minute spin may not be enough. You can work out the arrangements with the dealer, such as the maximum number of miles you will put on the vehicle. Driving the car for an extended period of time can give you a better idea of whether it is the right one for you, and if there are any problems with the car.

Has the Dealership Done Any Work on the Car?

It is important to find out if the dealership has done any work on the car since acquiring it. First, it can give you an idea of whether you will need to lay out money anytime soon for routine maintenance issues or repairs. Secondly, it can give you an idea of what problems the car may have had in the past.

Who Provided the Car’s Certified Pre-Owned Status?

Certified pre-owned vehicles are ones that have undergone extensive inspection and comes with an extended warranty. If you are looking at such a vehicle, it is important to verify where this certification came from. The only one that matters is the vehicle manufacturer itself. Anything else is questionable.

Can I See the Certified Pre-Owned Inspection Report?

The dealer should readily hand you the inspection report for any certified used vehicles. This will give you information on what was fixed, and can be valuable down the line if there are any issues with the car.

What is Your Return Policy?

No matter how great a dealership is, it is unlikely you will get your money back in full should there be any sort of issue with the car. But, ones that are more consumer-friendly may allow a grace period for bringing back the car, and allowing you to get a different one of equal value.