A Complete List On What To Ask When Buying A Used Car

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Have you ever wonder What to ask when buying a used car since it could be your first time buying a used car? These valuable questions when help you get the right info about the car you’re about to buy continued reading to the end.

There are so many important questions to ask when buying a used car – answers to those questions can help you validate the usability and nature of the car you’re about to buy. But you can check out What To Look For When Buying A Used Car also.

what question to ask
what question to ask

But, if this is going to be your first time buying a car, you probably do not know what to ask or what to check out for when buying a used car.

Thus, we are putting up this comprehensive blog to help you out.

As intimidating as it may seem, when you know and ask certain questions to a car dealer – the dealer will know that you know what’s up.

Paperwork is very important for a deal like this (buying a used car). On the other hand, a car seller is expected to answer all questions you ask regarding the car you want to buy.

However, before it gets to this aspect, you must have inspected the vehicle to get valid information about the car; thus, your questions are to validate what you already know and to ensure that the car seller actually knows what he is doing.

You definitely won’t want to end up in a deep mess due to buying a stolen car or a “beautiful but damaged” used car.

Here are the questions to ask But we have prepared a comprehensive guide on how does buying a used car works you want to check it out.

Quick Note: Don’t ever be afraid to haggle with the vendor – haggling is legal, and you should opt for the most of it.


What to ask when buying a used car


  • These questions aren’t meant to be asked serially – you can ask any of them at different times.
  • Try not to bug the seller with questions; asking too many questions at a time may tell the seller that you’re not as serious as you appear; ask one question at a time.
  • Make sure that the seller answers all your questions in a way that satisfies your curiosity.
  • Do your research about the car and then crosscheck the answers from the car dealer with what you’ve already learned from your research.
  • There are so many questions on this post – you must not ask all of them – apply courtesy!!!

Ask for the vehicle history and its VIN?

This is an important question that you must ask – the VIN of a vehicle is a unique 17-digit number that helps you grab some critical information about a particular car.

Photo credit: driving-tests.org

Using the VIN, which stands for Vehicle Identification Number, you can get the vehicle’s history report.

Now, the history report tells you if a convict previously owned the car or just about some important info you need to know.

What’s the mileage of this car?

Even though you may know how to check a car’s mileage, you should asker the dealer to tell you about it.

If his response is the same with what you already know/have seen, he is most likely an honest seller.

Request for the car ownership report

Here’s a vital question that must be asked. You seriously need to know the previous owners of the car you’re about to buy since it’s a “used” car.

If the seller claims he doesn’t have a record of the previous owners of the car he is selling, that should be a red flag.

But, he may be telling the truth – that’s why the car’s VIN is engraved so that you can run a history check about the vehicle.

How was the car maintained?

Irrespective of whether you buy the car from a dealer or private seller, this question is one of the most relevant ones to ask.

Try to know if the car was regularly serviced by an experienced (registered) mechanic or just some different “shade tree” mechanics.

Certainly, if a reputable mechanic regularly maintained the car, your confidence level will boost to an extent.

Some well-known dealers may put you up with the mechanic that maintained the car.

Try to know how frequent the car was repaired/fixed prior to buying it off

The frequency of repairs should matter, and you should know about it – ask if there’s a repair report on the car.

Check the repair report, and if the car was frequently repaired in short periods, that’s quite a red flag.

Maybe you should run the Carfax report to validate what the seller/dealer is telling you.

If the information from a Carfax report regarding the used car differs from what the seller is telling you, that’s an obvious red flag.

What about the service records?

You’re entitled to check out the service records of the car you’re about to own.

Also, it is expected that the seller services the car quite frequently to avoid rust and dryness of the metal/rubber components that make the car function as supposed.

If there is no service record for the car, that’s a bit suspicious, and you have to be more careful as some major metallic components of the car may have corroded.

It’s not necessarily a red flag but calls for more carefulness. In fact, get an experienced mechanic to check the car.

Any accidents with the car so far?

Normally, the accident report should be included in the vehicle history report.

However, some factors may cause the history report not to be as comprehensive as you expected.

Thus, you should try to get this information from the car seller. If you were able to discover that the car has been engaged in an accident, try to uncover how much damage it suffered from the accident and how it was fixed, and who fixed it.

Why is the car being placed on sale?

This question is very necessary if you’re buying the used car from a private seller and not a dealership.

With a polite approach, try to persuade the private seller to tell you his reasons for wanting to sell to the car – sometimes people sell off their cars due to hidden problems.

The seller may tell you that the car doesn’t meet up to his taste; hence, he wishes to sell it out for another one. Knowing the motive of why a used car is being placed on sale is very important.

Also, it’d be great to ask the seller how he owned the car – was the car bought as a brand new car, or he also bought it as a used car.

If the private seller bought the car as a new car, that’s a good note, but if he bought it as a “used” car, then that’s a red flag.

So, are there features that aren’t working anymore?

Typically, there should one or more features that aren’t functioning; nevertheless, some sellers or dealerships would fix those features before placing the car on sale.

If the “used” car is an old model, this question is very much important as older used cars nearly always have an issue or two.

Sometimes, the faulty feature may be the media player, AC vents, or any other feature. Just be sure that you’re told afore time and ensure that you check out all the car features to ensure they are all functional.

This will save you from unpleasant surprises, such as buying a used car, and then when you try to listen to the radio or playback a media, you notice the speaker has blown out.

Blown out speakers are among the commonest issues with old used cars – do well to check it out.

Why is the car being sold at the price tag?

Try to understand the brainer behind the used car’s price tag, especially when your seller seems to be offering a higher price than sellers.

There may be some special features that have been integrated into the car, such as changing the player from CD to DVD and then installing a reverse cam.

Also, there can be many other features that have been integrated into the car, which you may not find on the ones offered at a cheaper price by other sellers/dealerships.

Make sure that the custom features are well fitted and do not cause the car to malfunction. Furthermore, ensure that the custom features are worth the additional $$$, else, you should start looking out for alternatives.

If the seller explains he is following a buying guide, then you should crosscheck the guide.

Ask to know if you can take the car to your mechanic or bring him over.

This is a sensitive question; please only ask this question if you’re really going to buy the car.

Request to know if you can call on your personal (trusted) mechanic to check out the car or drive it to your mechanic.

Some dealers would probably dissent to you driving the car to a mechanic, but they should allow you to invite a mechanic to check it out in their lot.

However, if the dealer hesitates to respond to this question, that’s a warning.

If the dealer rejects “in toto,” you are advised to back off – something’s fishy, and the dealer is afraid a professional mechanic can point it out.

Is there a Used Vehicle Information Package? (for some regions)

This question is region-specific, mostly for Ontarians. Interestingly, the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario made a law that requires every privately sold car to be accompanied with a Used Vehicle Information Package.

However, there are several exceptions to this law – visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website to read up the terms and exceptions.

Nevertheless, there are obviously some regulations binding the sale of used cars in different regions. So, try to know if there’s such law for your region and then stick to it.

Carfax report is important if you’re in Canada

The Carfax report shows a lot of vital information about a car that has been ridden on Canadian roads.

Thus, either the seller provides you with a recent Carfax report, or you should dig it out by yourself.

CARFAX’s bilingual vehicle history report includes accident information, liens report, U.S. history report, and more.

You can check the Carfax report using the car’s VIN – just in case the seller doesn’t have one to present to you. Anyways, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

Do you have the title?

A title shows the actual owner of a car – sometimes, the owner may not know where he stashed the document.

Also, pending loans can cause a seller not to have the title. It is expected that you sign a title transfer when buying a used car; thus, the title is necessary.

How long do I have to test drive?

You should aim at test driving for at least 30 minutes. Yes, you need a long drive of about 20-30 minutes to spot all the possible errors/issues with the car.

If the seller isn’t comfortable leaving you for such a long time, try to get them to ride with you.

Whatever it is, ensure you test drive for at least 20 minutes. If you are not an experienced driver, you can request to call in one or get a mechanic.

If there’s a problem, can we fix that before the deal?

If there are some issues with the car, try to discuss it with the seller if the issue can be fixed before you buy the car.

Get into a flexible negotiation with the dealer or seller to get the car fixed before finalizing the deal.

Has anything been replaced in this vehicle?

Seek to know if there has been a part of the car that has been replaced, maybe due to an accident or whatever reason that may be given.

An answer to this question should give you hints on how much you can invest in the car.


Please be sure that you’re going to buy the car before asking these questions. No dealer would love to waste time with a non-serious buyer.

If you aren’t ready to buy the car yet, ask these questions online (in forums), and people will answer you.

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