Purchasing a used car is something that ought to be planned beforehand. There are questions that need to be asked of the seller and more indicators that need to be looked for during the time in which the car will be observed up close by the potential buyer. Below are some details to look for when purchasing a used car from a private owner.
Questions in Advance
Asking the seller specific questions is crucial when purchasing a used car. By the end of the first conversation prior to even seeing the car in person, the potential buyer should know where the car was bought, the kind of oil the owner used, the vehicle’s condition and mileage, and the reason why the owner is selling the car. Whether the car was bought from a dealer or from another state, it is convenient to know the history of the car. If the owner replies to the oil inquiry immediately with certainty, this indicates that they maintained the car responsibly, especially if they did their own oil changes. A car’s condition ranges from fair to good or excellent, with “fair” and “good” being the most honest answers. Buyers should be aware that there is always a reason why an owner wants to sell a car and selling one that is considered to be in excellent condition is rare.
A few other important questions to ask is if the seller would allow a test drive of 30 minutes or less, if they will allow the car to be inspected without them present, and the dates of their last couple of car sale. A seller of integrity would allow test drives, independent inspections, and will disclose the dates of their last car sales because there is nothing to hide. The car sale question is important because it indicates whether this person is selling cars as a hobby or if they constantly fix up cheap cars to sell them. Buyers should also request a copy of the Carfax report and oil change records. A person who keeps track of paperwork is likely to have taken care of their car with the same approach. Carfax reports are not 100% reliable though and this will be explained toward the end of the next section.
Inspecting the Body
It is important to observe the car for repairs, areas that need to be repaired, dull or chipped paint and parts of the car that look rusted or broken down such as wheels that are bent and tires that are worn. This helps the potential buyer to determine whether the car suffered from a lack of maintenance. The wiper blades are another thing that should be observed closely. If they are crusty with bits of debris underneath them, especially by the vents in front of the car, this means it was sitting for a while without being cleaned and there can possibly be debris that has fallen into the HVAC assembly. As was mentioned before, carfax reports are not fully reliable and inspecting the body can assist in catching information that the report will not have. Carfax reports only keep track of accidents that are reported. If accident related repairs are done apart from insurance claims, the report won’t reveal that and it is recommended to inspect the body for any areas with unmatched paint surfaces, uneven gaps, and seams. Looking at the wheel wells and fascias can be helpful too because sometimes both parts have missing clips.
In addition to all of the questions and requests listed above, it is also great to have a bill which confirms the vehicle’s model and identification number, as well as the selling price. A look at the dashboard and sticker on the car door can indicate whether the identification numbers are the same and if they are not, this means the owner has falsely changed it in an attempt to hide the fact of a stolen car or a damaged car with a salvage title.
Buying a used car can be an easy task if precautions are taken and the potential buyer knows what to look for in the car’s body and in the seller’s level of integrity. From requesting records to scrutinizing the physical condition of the car, making a decision on whether to buy it or not will become an easy one once these steps are taken.
This article was written together with Vito Sanchez on behalf of Auto USA. Make sure to check them out if you’re looking for used cars in Dallas.