Best Questions to Ask When Buying a Car
Manage the headaches of buying a new or used car by asking these important questions ahead of time. You’ll be glad you did.
Hunting down a car is never an easy task. Sure, it seems like it would be a simple process, especially with all of the dealers and for sale signs you see all the time. But when it actually comes time to look for and buy a car, whether it be a new or used car, things get complicated pretty quick.
That’s why you’ve got to know what you’re looking for. In the search for a car, playing detective is the best way to go. Ask lots of questions, get to the bottom of answers, and find out what’s really going on with the car you're about to spend a lot of money on.
Here’s a list of all the questions to ask when buying a car. Wherever or whomever you’re buying the car from, don’t drive off with it without asking these questions:
General Questions to Ask
- How much can I afford to spend? Make sure you know your budget before you go looking. Also, this will help you decide if you need to look into financing or not.
- How big of a car do I need? This will help you narrow it down based on things like how big your family is, if you will need to haul a lot of stuff, or if you will be driving it in narrow streets.
- How will I use this car? Depending on your needs, you may need a specific kind or type of car.
- Can I take it on a test drive? Always make sure you try the car before you buy it. Get some of our best tips on how to get the most out of your test drive here.
- What fees will I pay in addition to the price? You will never pay just the listed price. There may be dealership fees, taxes, etc.
Questions to ask when buying a New Car
- What kind of financing can you provide me? If you’re buying the car from a dealer, they can most likely give you financing options. If you’re buying it from an individual, you’ll have to see a bank about a loan.
- What's the warranty coverage? New cars will usually have some kind of warranty coverage so make sure and find out what you get.
- Will you give me a trade-in on my car? If you’re buying a new car from a dealer, they may have good incentives for trading in your current car depending on its condition and value.
- How valuable will this car be in a few years? If you’re buying with a resale in mind, this is a great question to ask. If you think it will lose a lot of value quickly, it might be a good idea to pass.
- Are there any aftermarket parts on the car? Some dealerships will sell new cars with add-ons, such as alarm systems, tinted windows and mud flaps which can significantly boost a new vehicle’s price. These add-ons aren’t always mentioned up front and then when you go to sign the contract, you see that you’re actually paying more for something that doesn’t come standard.
Ask lots of questions, get to the bottom of answers, and find out what’s really going on with the car you're about to spend a lot of money on.
Questions to ask when buying a Used Car
- How has the car been maintained? Did the previous owner take care of it? Did they get regular check ups and maintenance?
Has it been in any accidents? You may be able to get a copy of the CarFax report from the seller, or find it online. If not, make sure to ask and get as honest of an answer as you can.
- Why are you selling the car? Find out if they are selling it for a personal reason or if it’s because something is seriously wrong with the car.
- Do you know the ownership history of the car, if so what is it? It can be helpful to know how many owners the car has had, who owned it and for how long. If the seller doesn’t know the answer, you might be a little cautious to buy.
- Why are you selling it at this price? This will help you decide if the seller just picked a random price or actually did their homework to see what the car was worth. Don’t pay a price just because someone says that’s what it’s worth.
- Can I take the car to a mechanic for an inspection? This is a smart move for used cars, just to make sure that everything is in working order and that the seller isn’t hiding a serious problem from you.
- Do you have the title in hand? If there’s a loan on the car from the bank, the seller might not have the title. Or they may not know where it is. These are problems that can be worked around, but it’s best to buy from someone who actually has the title of the car easily accessible.
- How many miles are on the car? Obviously, more miles means that it’s more likely that there will be problems in the future.
- Are there any signs of smoking or pets? These are personal preferences but may influence your decision when buying the car.
Does everything work properly? Check the inside lights, head lights, windows, locks, trunk latch, air conditioning, radio, etc. If something doesn’t work, find out if it can be fixed and roughly how much it would cost.
Don’t Get Buyers Remorse, Ask The Right Questions
Buying a car that you ultimately don’t want or that wasn’t in the best condition to begin with is never something you want to happen. Many people buy car, new and used, that they thought were a great deal or exactly what they wanted only to find out later on that they should have done a little more research before pulling the trigger.
By asking the right questions, and getting real answers to them, you can save yourself a lot of trouble. Having as many of the facts and details about a car before you buy is the best way to go. Whip out these questions next time you’ve got your eye on a new ride. You’ll be so glad you did.