Important questions to ask when buying a used car

Buying a car can be an exciting experience. However, with so many different makes, styles, and prices on the market, the task can be overwhelming. With the right information at your fingertips, decisions can be made much more easily.

When shopping for the ideal pre-owned vehicle, there are a couple of different ways to go about the process: through a dealer or directly from a private seller. Both options have their advantages and risks, which is why doing your research beforehand is essential. Buying a used car generally requires a bit more homework.

If you decide to buy a pre-owned car, here are some questions to ask the seller before taking it for a spin and handing over the check.

Is there a vehicle history report?

A vehicle history report is a document that thoroughly outlines records of accidents, services (e.g., oil changes, tire rotations, brake replacements, etc.), types of use (e.g., personal, commercial, rental, etc.), and ownership. Vehicle history reports can be obtained easily via tools such as the Kelley Blue Book or CARFAX. All you need is the vehicle identification form (VIN) or the license plate number.

What is the car’s ownership history?

To many people, knowing how many drivers have been behind the wheel of a car is important. Did the current owner buy the car themselves, or did someone else (or multiple people) own it before? Additionally, how long has the seller owned the car?

Why are you selling the car?

The answer to this question can be a major deciding factor for potential buyers. It can also help determine whether the seller is trustworthy. For example, if the seller is moving to a city and no longer has a need for a car, that’s an entirely different story than, “The car is getting old and doesn’t run as well as it used to.”

What is the car’s mileage?

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration reports that the average person drives nearly 13,500 miles per year, which contributes to a great deal of depreciation. However, not every type of car is created equally, as some models can withstand being safely driven for longer periods. Once you know the car’s age and mileage, it is easier to determine its wear and tear.

Is there any interior or exterior damage to the car?

Sometimes, the answer to this question can be obvious, especially as it pertains to dents, scratches, and tangible features not working properly (e.g., air conditioning units, speakers, windshield wipers). If you’re looking at a used car in need of serious repairs, consider the cost of fixing these issues. If the repair costs end up outweighing the cost of the car itself, perhaps it’s best to continue your search.

Has the car been in any accidents?

If the car has ever been involved in an accident, it’s a smart idea to find out the severity of the damage. Ideally, all accidents should be listed in the vehicle history report, but this isn’t always the case.

Giving our customers peace of mind while on the road is a top priority at Rural Mutual, which is why we offer the right car insurance for everyone’s individual needs. To learn more about how to stay covered, contact your local agent.