Questions To Ask When Buying A Used Car

Dustin Hawley | Feb 11, 2021

The experience of purchasing a car can feel daunting for some - especially when considering a used vehicle. But while there are the inevitable question marks that hang over consumers’ heads, buying a used car doesn't have to be stressful. If you prepare yourself for the experience, you can streamline the process and develop some beneficial knowledge about the vehicle you are looking to purchase.

questions to ask when buying a used car

While there are many questions to consider when buying a used car, we have assembled a brief list of must-ask questions that will help shed light on any vehicle you are looking to buy. It will assist you in making sure you cover all the crucial bases when embarking on this journey. So let’s get started! 

What Questions Should You Ask?

As outlined above, there are many questions to keep in mind when considering buying a used car. But here are a few of the most crucial.

Does The Car Have A Vehicle History Report?

A vehicle history report is a document that contains maintenance information about a particular car. This document should also include the names of previous owners, odometer readings (usually recorded during regular service intervals), information about recalls, damages, or any accidents the car may have been involved in. You can typically get this information at an official service center with the authorization of the current vehicle owner. If you are purchasing a used car from a dealership, they should have these records on hand and available.

Vehicle history is essential. It provides potentially crucial information that may reveal hidden damages, how many people have owned the vehicle, a verification of the car’s mileage, and protection against title cleansing.

Can I Have The Car Inspected By A Mechanic Before I Buy It?

This question is self-explanatory, and if you are already in the process of getting the vehicle history report, you should insist on mechanically inspecting the vehicle as well. If you are unsure that the current inspection reports are fair and objective, you can take it one step further and insist on the inspection performed by the mechanic you trust.

Some consumers are not aware of the fact that good used-car inspections are readily available. Additionally, many car buyers don't want to pay the extra money for an inspection. But experts agree that you should have a used car inspected by a qualified specialist before making a purchase. The average car buyer, mechanically savvy or otherwise, simply can't do it justice the way a professional can. A detailed inspection can let you know whether you are purchasing a diamond or a dud.

Can I Take The Car For A Test Drive?

A test drive is an essential task before even considering a final purchase. Not only does it allow you to see if the car really fits your wants and needs, but you’ll have an opportunity to listen for and feel potential issues associated with mechanical elements of the vehicle, including the drivetrain and suspension. It is safe to say that the test drive is a must when buying a used car.

Test driving is also ideal because it works to the advantage of both the buyer and seller. The potential buyer gets the chance to get behind the wheel and get some first-hand experience operating the car. Simultaneously, the seller is more likely to successfully market the vehicle after it has driven (and hopefully enjoyed).

Does The Car Have A Title?

The Certificate of Title contains the most critical information about the vehicle, its owners, model details, and lienholder. More importantly, the Certificate of Title for a Vehicle can show if the car has a Salvage Title, Rebuilt Title, Flood Title, or Lemon Law Title. The owner should provide you with this certificate at the time of purchase.

If a seller is the legal owner of a vehicle, a car title provides proof to that effect. Car owners usually receive this document from the lender once their auto loan has been paid off. If a car has endured major damage from an accident, it might also be noted on the title, which is why a seller must possess a car title before we advise purchasing the vehicle.

Is The Car Fully Functional?

Asking this question may reveal some hidden issues with specific aspects of the vehicle. The engine is the most crucial part of any car, so make sure you pop the hood and visually inspect the engine for issues like fluid leaks, corrosion, worn-out belts, or cracked hoses. Press some buttons and make sure the stereo and the other electronic components in the cabin are working correctly, including anything on the instrument panel like the heat and air conditioning. Look at the tire tread and be wary of uneven tread or extra wear on certain tires. This can indicate poor alignment, which is often a symptom of steering, suspension, or frame issues.

These observations will give you essential information on whether or not the vehicle’s negotiated price is fair or not - or whether you may need to invest in some repairs to get the car up to snuff.


As mentioned in the introduction, buying a used car does not have to be a stressful experience. Asking these critical questions will provide you with an understanding of the vehicle history and details that can help you make an informed, well-educated decision on your used car purchase.

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