Saturday, November 04, 2006

Questions To Ask When Buying A Used Car - Part 1

by: Mike Willis

When you are shopping for a second hand vehicle, you will want to carefully pre-screen the cars you are interested in buying before you leave home. If you have a list of questions to ask when buying a used car, you can save a lot of time and energy. The reason for this is that it is much more efficient to call ten people who have a car for sale and ask them the right questions, than it is to drive across town to look at one vehicle for sale.

My first tip to you when interviewing car sellers is as follows. When you call, it's important to begin by saying, "I'm calling about the car for sale". If the answer is "Yes", then ask them to tell you about it. If they have more than one car, they may be hesitant to answer. If they are hesitant, or if the answer is "Which one?", they may be a private car dealer, also known as a curbside car dealer, or curber.

If they respond with something like “The ‘91 Jetta?”, then you would say, “Do you have more than one car for sale?” If they do, you want to know. Don't buy a car from a curber! If instead you ask, "Do you have a Silver 1991 Jetta for sale?", and they have more than one vehicle they are trying to sell, all they have to do is say "Yes", so make sure to ask your first question right. Maybe they just happen to be selling 2 cars, but it should raise a red flag.

Ask if they are the registered owner. If not, who is? This is important. You want to be dealing with the owner. You should ask them how long they have owned their car. Generally speaking, longer is better. If they haven't owned it long, they may be selling because it has issues and is giving them grief. If they have owned it a long time, it may be an indicator that they have been happy with its service, or conversely it may indicate that they are masochists!

When buying a used car from someone, it is always worth it to ask why they are selling. Ideally they have bought a brand new car. This often indicates that they are well enough off and have maintained their old car regularly. People who are well off, often got that way by taking care of what is in their care. It's not always true, but it is often the case.

People will have lots of other reasons for selling, but by asking this question, you can get a better feel for who they are and what they are up to. They may not tell you the truth, but pay attention to the subtle sense you get in their answers. It may help you to get a clear feeling about where they are coming from in trying to sell you their car.

About The Author

Mike Willis has authored articles published on many automotive websites. You can receive more solid used car buying advice by visiting his website at


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