14 Questions to Ask Your Car Dealer Before Buying

Posted Wednesday, Mar 30, 2022

Are you thinking of buying a new ride? Perhaps you want to save money on the purchase, insurance cost, and sales tax. Or maybe you want to avoid the steep depreciation period of new cars and get value for your money.

If so, it’s time to purchase a pre-owned car from a Madison car dealership.

After a home, the car is the second most expensive purchase most people make. And whether you’re buying your first car, replacing your old one, or just want to add a new toy to your garage, you must get it right.

But you already know the benefits of buying a used car, don’t you? Well, lower costs, less depreciation, greater variety, and less time and money to register are some of the benefits. And don’t forget a used car has been tried, tested, and reviewed; you can find lots of info online.

While you’ve already made up your mind to buy a used car, you’ll need to prepare and do some homework for a perfect purchase. Read more to learn 15 questions to ask your car dealer before buying.

1. Can I Take the Car on a Test Drive?

One of the best ways to determine whether the vehicle is perfect for you or not is by taking it on a test drive. Before you start negotiating on the price, a test drive can help in the decision-making process. Ask the dealer to schedule a test drive, and if they decline, you may need to consider another dealership or find another car.

On a test drive, you will learn about car handling and check on faults such as steering wheel misalignment. Also, you will need to check out dashboard warning lights and any strange noises from the engine. In addition, ensure the car parks well, has ample boot space, and inspect every other feature that you need.

When going on a test drive, make sure to drive the car in the same environment you usually drive on. For instance, if you drive a lot on the highway, take it for a test drive on a highway. This ensures you don’t find the car perfect in one environment only to experience issues in a different environment.

Also, inquire about how long the test drive can be. Some dealers will allow for an extended test drive where you can take the car overnight. However, in such cases, you’ll need to sign an agreement that you won’t exceed certain miles on the odometer.

2. Where Did the Vehicle Come From?

There are different sources for a used car. They could be from trade-ins, demos, auctions, or rental car fleets. Regardless of the used dealer, you expect to get your car from, knowing where it came from is vital to obtain accurate maintenance history.

If the car was a trade-in, inquire for maintenance records. Be clear they can black out the previous owner’s details for security reasons.

If the vehicle is from an auction, be sure mechanics specializing in used car inspection have thoroughly checked it. Ask for the inspection paperwork to know if anything was fixed during the pre-certification inspection.

Also, it might help to know the number of the previously used car and how long they had it. If there is no documented history for the vehicle or the seller is unsure, this could be a red flag. Purchasing such a vehicle could be one of the mistakes of buying a used car.

3. Is This the Original Paintwork?

When purchasing a used car, asking about the paintwork is key. If the car had been repainted, this could have been due to several reasons, including accidents.

With a critical eye, inspect the vehicle to be sure there is no change in its color, even the slightest. In case you identify the difference in the car paint, be sure to inquire. As you check on the paintwork, inspect the vehicle’s exterior condition.

4. Can You Have the Car Inspected by Your Mechanic?

Before you buy a used car, ask whether you can have the vehicle inspected by your trusted mechanic. This is especially crucial if the car’s maintenance record is non-existent or spotty. If the car is inspected by someone you trust, you enjoy peace of mind and can determine if it’s worth your money or not.

While the inspection may come at an added cost, it will save you in the long run. Your mechanic will ascertain that you’re buying a secure, safe, worthy car.

5. Has the Dealer Done Any Service on the Used Vehicle?

Some used cars can stay for weeks or even months on the dealer’s lot. Thus, the dealer might have done scheduled maintenance or repairs apart from the ones on maintenance history. This information will be crucial as any maintenance work done translates to fewer costs after owning the car.

Also, beyond any maintenance history, the dealer can offer, make sure to ask for a history report of the car from a third party such as Carfax. Most used car dealers will advertise these reports to attract buyers and even pay for them. In case the dealer hesitates to provide the reports, look for a better option.

Also, even if you get a Carfax-type file, be keen to ensure the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car you want to buy matches one on the report.

6. Is There a Maintenance Record for the Vehicle?

One of the key questions to ask when purchasing a used car is about its maintenance history. You want to know whether previous owners got frequent oil changes or tune-ups. Also, if the car was involved in an accident, were the repairs done recorded.

Also, when asking for the maintenance records, ask whether the vehicle has been involved in an accident. You ought to get a full accident history of a used vehicle, and if the dealer avoids it, it should raise eyebrows. If the car was involved in an accident, ask if repairs were made or not.

7. Is the Car Under Any Warranty?

If buying a used car from a dealership, ask about the vehicle’s warranty information you’re interested in. If a car is still covered under warranty, it could mean you won’t end up incurring extra charges in case of certain problems.

As you inquire about the car’s warranty information, ask about any current recalls. A recall may be anything from a technical fix or faulty airbags, and the dealer can inform you about it. Also, check the VIN of the vehicle to get more details about it.

8. What Are the Safety Features of the Car?

As a used car shopper, it’s important to be aware of the advanced safety systems the car you’re interested in has. Also, check whether the car has the kind of technology that you need. Remember, every automaker has different names for systems, such as automatic emergency braking.

For this reason, make sure you’re well aware of such systems to prevent buying mistakes. In addition, ask if there exist any special features the vehicle has or lacks. This could be anything from automatic seats, keyless start, sunroof, Bluetooth capabilities, and more.

If your intended car lacks a key feature that makes driving more convenient or comfortable for you, look for another option. Also, remember the add-on to the car will add to its price; thus, you really want to be sure they’re important to you.

Ask about the vehicle’s price on a financing and cash basis, and depending on your budget, pick the ideal option. The dealer may offer a different price if paying by cash.

9. Do They Offer In-House Financing?

When buying a new car, you’re likely to get manufacturer-backed financing. However, this is not the same with used car dealers. Thus, if you’re planning to get the car through financing, ask if the dealer offers an in-house financing option and get as many details as possible.

Check if their financing option has special lease programs or interest rates. Now, will it be cheaper using the dealer’s financing, or you’ll be better off financing from your credit union or bank?

If you opt for a loan, have clear details about the loan terms to avoid future financial constraints. Know the specific terms, including interest rates and the number of months you’ll be paying the loan. Also, will you be penalized for loan pre-payment?

Also, before you agree to the dealer’s price for the down payment and monthly payments, ask for a full purchase agreement. You’ll need to check on the cost breakdown, including any services or fees involved. If there’s any accessory or add-on you’re not interested in, inform them to avoid paying for it.

10. Do You Accept Trade-Ins?

If you’re replacing your old car, trying to sell it while still finding one to buy can be a daunting task. And this is where a trade-in can make things much easier. Thus, ask your used car dealer whether they can take the car you own as a trade-in.

Apart from saving you on the cost of buying the used car, trade-in also saves you the stress of selling the current car your own.

However, keep in mind that it’s easier, and you’ll get a better deal if your trade-in is the same as the types of cars the dealer stocks. Also, you might want to shop around as different dealers offer varied prices for trade-ins. To get an insight into how much your car is worth before the trade-in, use online resources.

11. What Accessories, New Parts, or Equipment Will be Included?

Ask the dealer if you’ll have a set of winter tires and rims, a new set of tires, trunk bay liner, or all-season floor mats. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Also, check if the car still has a spare and jack. You’ll need them just in case you need to change a flat tire in the middle of nowhere.

12. Do You Deliver?

If you’re buying from a used car dealership that’s far from your home, it can be a hassle getting the new ride home. In such a case, consider asking the dealership if they can deliver the car to your home. And will they charge an extra cost?

Remember, the dealer can deliver the vehicle to you if you accept delivery at a time when they’re not busy.

13. Has My Loan Been Approved by the Lender?

Before signing any loan paperwork beyond the loan application, ask whether the lender has approved your auto loan. If there’s no proof it has been approved, desist from signing the loan paperwork. By driving away before loan approval is done, you’re at risk of spot financing.

In such instances, the dealer might call you after a few days or weeks to inform you the loan didn’t go through, and you’ll have to go back and sign the new loan paperwork. If you do, you’ll have to deal with much more expensive financing than the original deal.

14. Does the Car Have a Salvage Title?

The question on salvage title could either make or break your search for a used car. A salvage title vehicle is a high risk, and if that’s the vehicle you’re thinking of buying, research carefully about it.

A car with a salvage title means it was involved in an accident and is damaged. In such instances, the repair costs could be much more than the car’s value.

Benefits of Buying a Used Car

If you’re thinking of buying a used car, there are different ways you can benefit apart from savings on the initial cost. For instance, a used car will help you save on fees, depreciation, and insurance. Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy by buying a used car.

Lower Insurance Costs

Car insurance costs vary widely depending on your age, credit score, mileage, location, and driving history. Generally, just as a used vehicle will cost less, the insurance fees also tend to be lower compared to that of a new car.

In most cases, insurance companies used the value of the car to determine the cost of its insurance. Since a used car will have less value, insurance costs are thus lower.

Also, if a new vehicle is involved in an accident, the insurer will only pay for what it’s worth at the time of the accident. This leaves a gap between the initial purchase price and what the car is worth bringing about the gap insurance. While gap insurance will cover this difference, it results in higher insurance premiums.

Gap insurance isn’t needed for a used car since much of the depreciation has already occurred.

However, keep in mind insurance rates are not consistent with all insurers. Thus, to save money on auto insurance, research, and compare rates before making your final decision. Also, before you drive off the dealer’s lot, have a clear idea about the auto insurance company to insure with.

Lower Dealership Fees

Similar to insurance, expected fees with used cars will vary from state to state. However, fees associated with a used car are much less than those of a used car. This will especially reflect any sales tax you’re going to pay.

To enlighten yourself about the extra fees that come with buying a used car in your state, conduct your research. Visit your state’s DMV website and check specifics regarding registration fees, title tax, and documentation fees.

Less Vehicle Depreciation

When it comes to cars, depreciation is unavoidable. Do you know the value of a new car drops by 9-11 percent once you drive it off the lot? A new car quickly depreciates, and this continues after weeks, months, and years.

However, a used car will depreciate at a lesser rate compared to a new one. After all, most of the depreciation has already happened. Surprisingly, some used cars may even gain value rather than depreciate.

Upfront Savings on Price

One of the major benefits of buying a used car is that you’ll save a lot. By buying a used car, you’re sure to save a couple of thousand dollars on the purchase. And even though you can’t afford to buy a new luxury vehicle, going for one that is two or three years older could suit your budget.

Also, automakers are not redesigning their models each year, implying the style and tech differences will be less noticeable.

More Peace of Mind

A few years down the line, most people avoided used cars since they carried risk, and most drivers saw them as a risk. However, the notion has changed with vehicle history reports being available today. Today, one can check details about the car’s accident history, ownership, mileage, title status, and more.

Before you sign the dotted line when buying a used vehicle, check on the vehicle’s details from websites such as Autocheck and Carfax. Here, you’ll find history reports of the used vehicle you’re about to buy. You can find key information such as mileage and if an insurance company has ever written off the vehicle by keying in the VIN number.

You Get a Variety of Selection

If you buy a used car, the depreciation factor favors you a lot. Even though you’re shopping for used vehicles that are a few years old, prices tend to be much lower compared to the brand-new options. This translates to a wide range of options that could fit your budget.

Enjoy Warranties

It’s possible to come across a used car that still has a factory warranty that is transferable. If not, there are used cars that have the option to create an extended warranty.

While it’s not always the case, most madison offer various warranty options. This is especially the case for certified pre-owned cars.

Buying a used car with an extended warranty gives peace of mind with the purchase.

More Reviews and Online Support

Buying a used car makes it possible to find lots of hands-on information about the vehicle over the internet. For a model that has been around for several years, you can check for YouTube reviews, Facebook groups, or even car forums. You’ll easily find invaluable info that can enlighten you about common issues with the car, worries, and even how to troubleshoot some issues.

This is quite different when buying a new car. You may always have to take a new car to an experienced mechanic or consult the manufacturer when facing an issue.

Cars Last Longer Today

A few decades ago, one may have avoided buying a used car purely on the basis of reliability. However, this is no longer the case. Today, one of the key features of most cars is reliability.

This means even if you buy a car, you’re sure to enjoy an extended lifespan. In fact, most car models today can clock far beyond two hundred thousand kilometers.

Buy a Preowned Car Today from Madison Car Dealership

Buying a preowned vehicle can offer numerous benefits to the owner. However, to ensure you get the perfect ride and value for your money, you need to be spot on when making a huge purchase. Here are questions to ask Madison car dealership when purchasing a used car.

Are you looking for a pre-owned car dealership? At Gates Auto, we’ve got what you’re looking for. With years of experience, we’re dedicated to offering high-quality, pre-owned vehicles to our customers.

Contact us today for a free quote.