Article By Acklam Car Centre

Smart Guide to Purchasing a Preowned Vehicle: 13 Crucial Inquiries

As you embark on the journey of acquiring a preowned vehicle, it's essential to understand the crucial questions to ask. This information will assist you in making an informed decision and getting the best value for your money. Here are 13 essential inquiries to make when shopping for a used car.

1. Determining the Vehicle's Worth

One of the initial steps in your quest for a preowned vehicle is evaluating its worth. This will give you a benchmark to assess if the asking price is reasonable. Reputable online platforms like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds can help you ascertain the value of the car.

Should the dealer's price exceed the car's worth, don't despair. Negotiate for a fair price. Should the dealer remain rigid, don't hesitate to explore other options. Remember, negotiation is an art, and it can save you a significant amount of money.

2. Age of the Car

Age plays a significant role in a car's value due to depreciation. As a car ages, its value diminishes, with most vehicles losing 60% of their worth within the first five years. Therefore, understanding the car's age is fundamental in determining if its value is likely to drop significantly or if its depreciation has stabilized.

By leveraging the car's age and understanding how the particular make and model depreciate over time, you can negotiate for a better deal.

3. Checking the Odometer

The car's mileage is an important consideration when purchasing a preowned vehicle. An average driver covers approximately 13,476 miles per annum. High mileage can signal significant wear and tear. Therefore, understanding the mileage can give you a peek into the car's usage history and its possible future performance.

4. Availability of Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report is crucial as it provides detailed information about the car, including accident history, any open recalls, service history, and details about previous owners. This information can also provide a bargaining edge during price negotiation.

Most used-car dealers provide a vehicle history report at no cost. You only need to provide the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or the car's license plate number.

5. Mechanical Condition of the Car

Before closing the deal, it's vital to ensure that the vehicle is mechanically sound. You wouldn't want to discover later on that the vehicle has severe mechanical issues.

Unless you're a car enthusiast with a good understanding of car mechanics, it's advisable to get a professional to conduct a private inspection. If the dealer or seller refuses to allow an inspection, consider it a red flag.

6. External Condition of the Vehicle

Though the mechanical condition of the car takes precedence, the external appearance also matters. Check for any dents, scratches, or rust on the car's surface. Also, inspect the windshield, lights, rearview mirror, and side mirrors for any damage. The wheels and tires should also be in good condition.

The exterior condition of the car can offer insights into how well the vehicle was maintained.

7. Interior Condition of the Car

Check the interior condition of the car as you'll be spending most of your time there. Look out for any signs of damage or neglect, such as torn seats, stains, or unpleasant odors.

8. Test Driving the Car

A test drive can offer valuable insights into the vehicle's performance. Pay attention to the braking system, gear changing, and acceleration during the test drive. If the car doesn't feel right or makes unusual sounds, it's wise to consider other options.

If possible, choose a test route that includes rough roads to assess the vehicle's handling under different conditions.

9. Warranty Status of the Vehicle

Understanding the warranty status of the car is essential. While an extended warranty is not compulsory, knowing the warranty status can save you from future repair costs.

Sometimes, used cars are still covered under the manufacturer's warranty, which can be a big plus.

10. Impact on Car Insurance Premiums

Switching cars can have an impact on your car insurance premiums. If you're planning to upgrade from an older model to a newer one, expect your insurance costs to rise. Contact an independent car insurance agent to get a clear estimate of the potential change in insurance costs.

Additional Questions for Private Sellers

If you're buying from a private seller, you need to ask additional questions.

11. Reason for Selling the Car

Understanding why the seller is selling the car can offer valuable insights. While some reasons are legitimate, such as a need for a larger vehicle due to family expansion, others may raise red flags. Be keen on the seller's response.

12. Availability of the Car Title

A car title is a legal document that proves ownership. Never purchase a car without confirming the availability of the title. Also, check if the title is marked as a salvage or rebuilt title as this can affect the car's value and legality to drive.

13. Duration of Ownership

Understanding how long the seller has owned the car can offer insights into the car's reliability. If the seller has owned the car for a short period, they might be trying to offload a problem vehicle.