Questions To Ask When Buying A Pre-Owned Car

Buying a pre-owned vehicle can save you thousands of dollars. And as long as you ask the right questions, you can end up with a great vehicle at a huge discount. However, if you go in blindly, then odds are you're not going to get a top-of-the-line used car. It requires some research and some effort on your part. 

Luckily, it doesn't require you to get under the hood and inspect the car with a mechanic's tool kit. All it requires you to do is ask some questions and look up some information online.

Here's a list of what you should do.

Check For Prior Accidents

The most important thing that you should do is check to see if the car has been in prior accidents. You can do this as long as you have the car's VIN number. Then, you can search online using any of the free- or low-cost databases that track vehicle accidents.

It is a good idea to stay clear of cars that have been in large accidents since oftentimes there is damage that might not manifest until well after you've taken the car home and have had it for a while.

Minor accidents are not much to be concerned about, but anytime a car is near totaled, it is advisable to steer clear of it. You should want to get a pre-owned car that has not had significant damage to the drivetrain and structural elements such as the suspension and frame.

Service Records

It's important to get a car that was well maintained, especially frequent oil changes. A car that has not had the oil changed on schedule is more likely to suffer expensive engine damage down the line.

Many pre-owned car dealerships will keep service records on hand for you to view. That way you can make sure that the car's previous owners made regular trips and had the oil changed on a manufacturer-suggested schedule.

A car that is missing a service history, or one which has a service history with many missing oil changes is going to be a risky option. So, make sure to choose a pre-owned car where the service history is in line with the automaker's suggested timeline.

Does The Dealership Offer a Warranty?

Another great thing to check out is if the dealership offers a warranty. This is especially common on relatively new pre-owned cars. In many cases, the dealership will be able to provide a warranty connected to the manufacturer. Other times the dealership might offer a special in-house warranty package for a certain amount of time. These might be called extended warranties. It's worth inquiring with your salesperson and seeing if it is an option.