It’s always exciting but scary to go and see a car that you’re thinking about buying; knowing what to ask a car seller before you go will give you confidence and help to make sure that you buy the right car. These questions apply mostly to private sellers rather than dealers, who typically don’t know all that much about the car they’re selling other than what’s written in the history, how much they paid and what it’s worth. If you want the low down on a car you’re interested in, you’ll need to ask about it.
You should also take a look at our how to check a used car article to cover all bases before your start asking questions about your potential new steed. Once you’re there and have checked things over, ask the following questions to make sure that you find out what you need to know before making any final decisions:
Always ask a car seller the following…
Why are you selling?
This only applies to private sellers rather than dealers, of course, but judging a person’s response when you ask why they’re selling the car is a good way to break the ice and find out some immediately useful information.
For every good reason that people sell a car, there are two dodgy ones, so always check that the car’s paperwork backs up their story if it can. Buying through OneWomanOwner is already a guarantee for a more trustworthy sale than on any other used car site. We require an ID check from our sellers, so you’re in the right place for an honest seller and an honest car.
What are the bad points about the car?
Try to avoid simply asking ‘have you had any problems’ as this is an open question that’s too easy to say ‘no’ to. Asking what the bad points are, suggests that you’re assuming there are some. This forces the seller to think a bit more about revealing the stuff that you want to know. It’s worth asking a dealer this one, as well as a private seller.
What do you like about the car?
This seems like small talk, but you’re not there to try and catch the owner out – you just need an honest idea of what the car’s like. When you ask a car seller what they about the vehicle, you’ll have a chance to get to know more about the car and to decide if it’s what you’re after.
What sort of economy do you get?
You can obviously see what the car is saying on the trip anyway, but asking the owner this will help to confirm what the car’s gauges say. Fuel economy can give you an idea about how well the engine is working. An owner who’s cared for the car will likely tell you if they’ve used premium-grade fuel, or put in additives occasionally to help keep the engine clean – these are things you want to hear when it comes to a used car, whether you’re buying a £600 Toyota Yaris or a £60,000 Range Rover.
Who did you buy it from?
This only applies to private sellers who haven’t owned the car since new, of course, and again – the V5 document will show you when and where the car was sold and how many owners it’s had. But finding out what it was that persuaded the owner to buy the car themselves, and under what circumstances, again helps to judge whether the car has been well looked after for the whole of its life.
Never be afraid to ask a car seller about the vehicle you’re interested in buying. A few questions can reveal a whole lot more information about a car you’re interested in. The more you know, the easier it is to decide if a car is right for you.