4 Questions to Ask a Used Car Dealership

When you are looking to buy a used car, there are some things you need to ask the dealership before choosing a vehicle. Make sure you go over these questions before you sign a financing agreement or purchase a used car.

Can you see the service records?

When a car dealership is selling a used car, it should preferably provide you with the service records. Even if the salesperson convinces you that the car is in good condition and it only had one driver, you should verify this on your own. Either run a service report on your own by getting the car's VIN number, or ask to see a copy of the report. If they have one to provide to you, look at the date on the report to make sure it is recent. If the service records are from a year ago, who knows what other repairs could have been done in that period of time? Also verify that the records are for the right car by looking at the license plate number and VIN number for the vehicle.

How many owners did the vehicle have?

Also ask the dealership for information about the vehicle's previous owner. You need to know how many owners it had and whether they learned anything about the condition of the car when it was turned in. Even with the service records, it helps to know a little about the person who owned it. Was the car owned by multiple people? If so, that might indicate some mechanical issues or that the car doesn't operate smoothly, which is why the owners kept selling it. If the car had a single owner, but they were someone who drove the car strictly on the freeway at high speeds, that is another thing to know. The dealership might not have all this information, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Is it a certified pre-owned vehicle?

When you buy a used vehicle, you want to know it is in good condition. Not only should the dealership have had the vehicle inspected thoroughly, but they should have certified it. Certified pre-owned vehicles go through a more complex inspection, making sure it is as close to a new vehicle as possible.

What type of warranty does it come with?

Finally, ask about the available warranties and details about what those warranties cover. Don't just assume an extended warranty lasting five years will cover all incidents and repairs for the next five years. It might have limitations, such as not covering repairs following a collision, or not providing repairs for major mechanical issues, like engine or transmission repairs. 

For more help and peace of mind, you might consider having a pre-purchase car inspection done.