Questions to ask when buying a used car

Most people determine to buy a used car, primarily because it’s more affordable. According to statistics, in 2020, 39.3 million used vehicles were sold in the U.S. compared to 14 million new cars.

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Purchasing a used vehicle isn’t a straightforward procedure. While new cars all have the same aspects when they come out of the factory, used cars can differ immensely even with the same model.

Considering they were presumably moderately wielded for a couple of years, they indeed have some signs of wear on them, both outside and inside. To put it simply, some used cars are in adequate condition and some are not.

This is why you have to be prepared before purchasing. You can identify everything you can about a particular model when car buying, but there are elements that you can only inquire about with the seller. Verify that the used vehicle you’re purchasing is functional is a must.

Purchasing a vehicle can be a disquieting procedure, but we’re here to provide you with advice. In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Is it better to purchase a used car from a car dealership or a private seller?
  • What are the crucial questions you need to inquire about when purchasing a used car?
  • What are some other aspects you should verify before purchase?
  • How can you afford any car you require?

We hope that this article will support you in the process of purchasing a new vehicle for you or your family and that you’ll learn about some other ways to afford any car you want.

Should you buy a car from a dealer or a private owner?

To put it shortly, purchasing a car from both private sellers on Craigslist and licensed car dealerships can have advantages and disadvantages.

For example, private sellers are the current owners of the car. This means that they supposedly had the vehicle in their possession for a longer time and used it frequently. They’re likely familiar with the car’s history and any complications it may have. This is why it will be simpler to get explanations for some of the inquiries you’ll make.

However, when you’re purchasing a car from a private seller, you don’t have the legal protections and benefits that you get from buying at car dealerships.

On the other hand, purchasing a vehicle from a car dealership is usually more reliable for you. Because they’re a business, you have at least some legal protection, but this can also vary.

The downside of car dealerships is that it could be viable that they aren’t familiar with everything that needs to be known about the car. They likely obtained the vehicle at an auction or as a trade-in, and their knowledge of any probable complications is finite. Although, these can be moderately mended by verifying the vehicle history report or approaching an independent mechanic for an inspection.

All in all, both have advantages and disadvantages, but according to Zebra, 61.4% of vehicle buyers in the U.S. prefer to purchase them from a car dealership.

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Questions to ask when buying a used car

We created a list of some of the questions you should ask the seller before purchasing a car. Beware of red flags! If they don’t want to respond to some of these questions or change the subject abruptly, there could be some complications they’re trying to withhold from you.

What’s your reason for selling this car?

If you’re obtaining a vehicle from a private seller, you should inquire about their reason for selling the car. It’s a valuable course to gain insight into the state of the vehicle. Most sellers will have a story ready, but follow your gut instinct on whether they’re telling the truth.

You shouldn’t worry if they’re selling it because they want to upgrade to a newer vehicle. However, if they start to behave weirdly or change the subject, you should reconsider this purchase.

Are there any previous owners?

If the car was in someone’s possession for a really limited time or if it had too many owners in the past — that’s a red flag. This can signify many hassles that previous car owners couldn’t settle, so they resolved to sell.

How long has the car been in your possession?

Like the last question, if the private seller owned the car for a brief time and is still selling it, you should perhaps not make this purchase. On the other hand, if you’re obtaining a previously owned vehicle at the car dealership and they had it for too long, you should also probably abandon this purchase. Both of these cases could be signs of significant and severe complications.

How old is the car?

This is presumably something that’ll be indicated in the vehicle advertisement, but if it isn’t, you should demand information. Knowing how old the car is can provide you leverage. Vehicles consistently deplete almost 60% of their value after five years. You can utilize this intelligence to negotiate the price.

Can I get a look into the maintenance records?

Inquire with the seller on whether they possess the service records and if you can inspect them. It’s imperative to know whether the vehicle was routinely maintained. Oil changes and emissions reports are significant information to know. However, if the seller changes this subject or doesn’t want to present the maintenance history, you should abandon this purchase.

Can I look at the vehicle history report?

A vehicle history report is a document with all the information about the car, including previous owners, accidents, service history, etc. This is a beneficial testimony because you won’t have to ask many important questions, but not everyone possesses it.

The excellent news is that you can investigate the vehicle history report, like a Carfax report, for a particular vehicle online with just the Vehicle Identification Number or the license plate number.

What’s the car’s mileage?

Regularly investigate the odometer for mileage before purchasing the vehicle. The more it was operated, the more it was utilized, meaning that its value has dwindled. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, an average person drives 13,476 miles annually.

Does the car have any issues I should know about?

Used cars approximately always bear some complications, and if the seller asserts that it doesn’t have any problems at all, they’re presumably misleading you. Some complications are commonplace and not meaningful, while some can signify more substantial deterioration. No one prefers to operate a vehicle with malfunctioning air conditioning.

Was the car in any accidents?

Not all accidents will be disclosed, so you can’t rely on the vehicle history report for everything. Inquire with the seller whether the car was in any accidents, how significant the damages were and how they were repaired. Some accidents are inconsequential and insignificant, but more sizeable ones could require considerable effort and aren’t always repaired adequately.

Are there any parts added or modified since the cars making?

Some owners are required to revise outdated components of their vehicles because preceding ones weren’t functioning, while some just like to include new features to enhance the driving experience. Inquire about these because modern or updated components can enhance the car’s value if executed adequately.

Can I take the car to a mechanic for an independent inspection?

Acquiring an independent mechanic ready to investigate the new Honda or Toyota you want to buy is a prerequisite. You need to ask the seller first but know that if they disagree with this action in any way, there’s presumably trying to mislead you. Your vehicle has to possess functional brake pads.

Can I go for a test drive and for how long?

Ask this question once you’ve already established you’re likely purchasing the vehicle. Driving the car around for at least 30 minutes will demonstrate any potential complications and grant you peace of mind. If the seller doesn’t allow you to run a test drive or if they limit it too much, there are presumably some complications they’re trying to withhold.

Do you have the car’s title with you?

Never purchase a vehicle if the seller doesn’t provide you with a title for it. Even if they suggest they can’t locate it immediately, be enduring and remain until they do so. Perhaps the seller doesn’t possess the title and information about the car loan, but the bank undoubtedly does. Also, investigate the title previous to purchasing for any information that could decrease the car’s value or compel you to abandon the purchase.

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Does the car have any recalls?

Sellers don’t have to disclose to car buyers if the vehicle received any recalls or not. This is why investigating the vehicle history report can be advantageous, as they presumably have all the information you could obtain, including recalls. Some reasons why the vehicle has recalls are repairable, while others are not.

Why is the car priced like this?

Most people, specifically private sellers, just estimate the vehicle’s value with the number they want, but some price them based on a pricing guide. In this case, you can verify that pricing guide to observe if the sticker price matches.

Is the car under warranty?

Some used cars are still under the factory’s warranty, but most are not. Inquire about your car dealer, so you don’t drive off with a more considerable investment than foresaw.

How big will my car insurance be?

Inquire with the seller about how much they compensate for car insurance to gain insight into future billings. The best way to ascertain your imminent car insurance monthly payments is to approach an independent insurance agent.

What are the different ways that I can pay for this car?

Once you’re deliberate about purchasing a vehicle, you’re obligated to ensure that the way you’re compensating for it conforms to you. Car dealerships will have supplementary payment opportunities comparing to private sellers.

What would the long-term maintenance cost me for this car?

Whenever you buy a car, you also have to count on how much it will cost you to maintain it. Ask the seller how much they paid for car maintenance annually before, or check out the price with an independent mechanic.

Some more tips for buying a used car

Inquiring about all the things we listed up to now is a must, but there are also some additional things we advise you to investigate. When going to a private seller or a dealership in person, make sure to check out the car’s exterior and interior for any possible damages. This way, you’ll get a glimpse of how previous owners treated the vehicle.

Check out the exterior of the car for damages

Of course, this is the first thing that you’ll notice about the car you’re viewing. Of course, if the vehicle has any considerable and easily visible damages, you should reconsider your purchase.

Even though every car that’s been even moderately driven will have some signs of use, there are still some things that you should look out for.

Firstly, check out the paint and car frame for any rust, dents or scratches. Minor damages are acceptable as they can happen to everyone, but they can still lower the price. Significant damages can even be signs of bigger mechanic problems.

Next, check tires and wheels. Damaged or bent wheels can be a sign of more significant problems. Check out if all the tires are fine before driving off with the car. Also, does the vehicle come with a spare tire and a jack?

Last but not least, investigate details like rearview mirrors, lights and the windshield. Are they functional or will they require replacements?

Signs that the interior has been damaged

After checking out the exterior of the car, it’s time to get inside. Here are some of the little things you should look out for when viewing the car’s interior.

Check out if the seats are damaged in any way and whether the window systems work. Notice any wear and tear, and make sure to ask the owner or the dealer whether any pets were driven in the car and if the user was a smoker. Some people aren’t comfortable with the smells and stains that you’ll get from those things.

Any damages to the interior of the car let you know how the owner treated it.

Afford any car you want with Infinite banking

Purchasing a used vehicle can be a stressful and challenging task to accomplish. However, sometimes people don’t have the funds needed to buy a new car or at least one in better condition.

But what if we told you that there was a way to take control of your personal finances and afford any car you want?

We’re here to teach you about the concept of Infinite Banking.

This concept can be used to help you secure your financial future and bring you additional benefits. If you want to try Infinite Banking, you first need to own a Whole Life insurance policy. Here are some of the crucial aspects of this concept you should know about.

To put it simply, Infinite Banking means being your own banker. With this method, you can strategically use your Whole Life insurance policy from a mutual insurance company to create an endless banking system.

This is how it works. Owning a Whole Life insurance policy has many benefits, one of them being that you can borrow money from it using your policy’s cash value and repay it later. This way, you borrow money from yourself instead of a bank, and you pay it back to yourself. You become your own bank.

With the Infinite Banking method, you can reach your financial goals more accessible and gain complete control of your finances without dealing with banks and their fees.

Infinite Banking involves:

  1. Overfunding (with after-tax funds) a high cash value whole life insurance policy from a life insurance company.
  2. Accumulation of Cash Value (tax-free) throughout the years you are a policyholder of your Whole Life insurance policy.
  3. Tax-Free Loans taken out against your whole life insurance policy’s cash value to use for your financial expenses.

All of these aspects culminate in creating your own bank. You borrow from yourself while your Whole Life insurance policy still earns dividends even though you’re using those funds elsewhere.

No matter what your financial objectives are, Infinite Banking can help you reach them. Entering the Banking Business gives you better control over your finances and helps you build wealth using the life insurance policy.

Final thoughts


We hope that we helped you understand all the right questions you need to ask before car shopping and that our tips on what to look for will be useful. Also, we hope that finding out about Infinite Banking and Whole Life insurance made you realize that you can learn how to take control of your finances and afford any car you want.