What Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car?

By CJ (NOT A Financial Advisor Just A Average Joe)

Buying a used car is one of the top ways to save money. Being frugal and purchasing a used vehicle will save you thousands in depreciation.

Let’s get down to business…

What Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car?

Question Number 1:

How many owners has this vehicle had?

Not only do you want to know the number of owners, but it’s also in your best interest to ask if the vehicle was ever used as a car rental. This will tell you how the car was most likely treated. For example, a private owner typically takes care of a car. If it’s been a rental car the attitude is more hot-rodding around town doing hard take-offs and quick stops when renting a vehicle. Trust me I have done it. I want to see what the car can do and treat it differently compared to one I own.

Question Number 2:

Has the vehicle ever been in a car wreck?

If it has, you will want to know if the car bags deployed. This question will typically tell you how severe of a wreck the vehicle had.

Question Number 3:

How many miles does the vehicle have on it?

Mileage is typically will be printed in the ad of the car. My next question after mileage would be, does it have a warranty? This is important as most cars are bought AS-IS.
I typically look for used cars that are still under factory warranty. Yes, you might pay a little more than one out of warranty, but it will be in your best interest in the long run. Plus it allows you more time to see if there is an issue with the vehicle.

Question Number 4:

Can I take the car to a mechanic to have it inspected?

Even if you don’t take it to a mechanic, taking it on a test drive by yourself and listening to the car’s noises would be in your best interest.

Then, take the vehicle to your parent’s or friend’s house and ask them to look at the car and see if they see any issues.
One of the used cars I bought was a 2019 Ford Fusion Hybrid. If I had not had a second pair of eyes look at the car, I would never have noticed the tire cut.

I saved that discovered cut in the tire for a significant part of my negotiation on the vehicle’s price. It ended up letting me get a lower price saving on the overall price of the car.

When buying a car, it’s hard for you to notice blemishes and issues because you’re excited, nervous, and stressed when purchasing a vehicle.

What Other Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car?

Do you have a clear title on hand?
Does the vehicle have a salvaged title?
Has the car ever been in a flood?
Do you know the maintenance history of the car?
What interest rates do you have if I buy this car?

Asking these questions will get you started down the patch of purchasing the right used vehicle. Always take your time and think the process through. Buying used does save you money in the long run if done right.

Buying new cars can have advantages, like lower interest rates and more extended warranties. But keep in mind once you drive the vehicle off the lot and put miles on it, the first few thousand miles is where the car depreciates the most. Plus, higher taxes and insurance will drive up your costs.

Good luck with your shopping for a new vehicle, and I hope this list of questions to ask when buying a used car helps you save money, time, and aggravation.

Update: With the shortage of chips for new cars and used cars being high priced, negotiating the price will be extremely difficult next to impossible. But using the above questions and inspecting the vehicle will hopefully save you from having a huge repair expense or, worst yet, buying another vehicle.

As I said before, buying cars can be fun, but it can also be nerve-wracking so if possible, plan ahead. If possible, come up with a contingency plan to ride with co-workers or other means of transportation. Giving you more time to search for the best option for you.

F.I.R.E. – Financial Independence Retire Early insights when buying a vehicle

Keep in mind when buying a vehicle that your main goal is to get you from point A to point B comfortably and safely.

Things to also consider when buying a car if you truly want to be financially free anytime soon:

  • What type of gas mileage does the vehicle get?
  • How much is the taxes? (All States are different)
  • How much is the property taxes going to be each year? (All States are different)
  • Cost of car insurance for the vehicle? Having quality car insurance is especially important for those who want to be financially free. CHEAP auto insurance for anyone with assets is insane in today’s litigious society.
  • Repair costs – a 4×4 truck will be much more expensive to repair than a car.
  • Maintenance fee’s again, and the 4×4 truck will most likely incur a higher cost to have an oil change than a car.
  • Door dings and road rash (dings from rocks) happen, and if you buy an overly expensive vehicle because you look incredible in it, it will cause you more heartache than a reasonable vehicle.

It all boils down to saving money. Buying a vehicle for looks and to show off is not what a true millionaire who earned their money would do.

Keep these wealth tips and thoughts in mind when buying a vehicle. Also, consider how many of your life hours (time) you have to give up to purchase this vehicle. Is it worth it?

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