When you buy a brand-new car, it can depreciate thousands of dollars on your way home from the dealership. That is why so many financial experts recommend that their clients buy reliable late-model used cars instead of new ones.
But how do you know that the car or truck you are looking at is really reliable? The vehicle might look great from the outside, but it could be hiding a hidden defect that will cost thousands of dollars to repair. Before you sign on the dotted line and purchase a used car, you need to ask these critical questions?
Was the Car Maintained According to the Manufacturer’s Recommendations ?
These days a properly maintained car or truck can easily go 100,000, 150,000 or even 200,000 miles or more. Regular oil changes can extend the life of the engine, while transmission fluid flushes and changes can keep the gearshift in tip-top shape.
Always ask the seller about the maintenance record of the vehicle. The lack of proper maintenance could mean a premature breakdown – and thousands of dollars in repairs for the new owner.
Do You Have the Service Records ?
Having the current owner tell you the vehicle was properly maintained is one thing. Seeing it in black and white is quite another. If the seller claims that the vehicle has been scrupulously maintained, you need to answer with a follow-up question and ask to see the service records.
The seller should be happy to provide the service records detailing how well the vehicle was really maintained. Many sellers gather these records before putting the car up for sale. If the service records are missing or incomplete, the seller could be lying about the actual maintenance the vehicle received.
Was the Vehicle Ever in an Accident ?
It is important to know whether the vehicle has ever been involved in an accident. Even a fender bender could create hidden damage, and a serious crash could have left the frame bent and the vehicle unsafe to drive.
Do not take the seller’s word on this one. It only takes a few minutes to pull a Carfax report on the vehicle and get its true history. If there are no past accidents, you can go ahead with the price negotiations. If you find a serious problem, you can move on to the next prospect.
Why Are You Selling the Vehicle ?
It is important to know why the seller is getting rid of the vehicle, but you may need to read between the lines on this one. Few sellers will tell you they are selling because the car or truck is a lemon. They may claim that they are selling to buy a newer vehicle, but you will need to use your intuition to know if they are telling the truth.
No matter what they answer is, you will need to thoroughly inspect the vehicle. Test drive the car, listen for noises and check the fluid levels carefully. If you are still unsure, ask to take the vehicle to your mechanic for a more thorough inspection.