Top 7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car

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Buying a used car? You’re not alone. At Positive Lending Solutions, we’ve helped thousands of used-car buyers get their perfect car loan so we understand all the concerns you might have.

We’ve asked our team of experts to help us understand the most important questions to ask when it comes to buying a used car and, more importantly, the answers you should hear from sellers.

Keep these handy the next time you’re buying a used car (or even looking at one).

Top 7 questions to ask when buying a used car (and 7 answers to hope for)

1. Why is it for sale?

Naturally, this question would apply to a private seller, not a dealership.

People sell cars for all kinds of reasons - some genuine and some not so genuine - so this question is a great place to start.

Knowing why someone is selling a car is a good way to get some clues as to whether there might be any concerns for you.

Hopefully the seller is honest and can give you a straight answer but if the answer you get isn’t 100% clear, you can ask some further follow up questions:

  • Have you had any trouble with it?
  • Did you take it on any road trips, if so, how did it go?

Good answers

People genuinely upgrading or downsizing their car or who may be using a work vehicle and no longer need the car.

2. How many kays has it done?

Finding a car with minimal kilometres on the clock is ideal as this generally means less wear and tear and more life left.

However, low-mileage vehicles may not be an option, especially if you’re already stretching the budget for a larger SUV or ute.

The older the vehicle, the more care you’ll need to take when inspecting it so paying a professional mechanic to give it a thorough inspection can be well worth it. In most cases, you’ll get a report listing repairs needed and ballpark prices.

Good answers

Low kilometres as per the age of the vehicle. The average Australian drives 13,000-14,000km per year so pulling out the calculator is a good idea to get an idea of the car you’re looking at.

3. Does it have a clean title?

When it comes to buying a used car, a clean title is super important. This means finding out whether the car has ever been reported as written off, stolen or has any finance owing on it.

Some people buy repairable write-offs in order to fix and resell them for profit. These can appear attractive as per their low mileage and price, but is the vehicle in the same condition as it was before the damage?

Get your hands on a PPSR form which lists any history, including whether a car’s ever been reported as written off. These PDF documents only cost a few dollars and can make all the difference when buying a used car.

Also note that buying a car with finance owing on it can mean you’ll need to disperse some funds to the seller and some to the finance company.

Good answers

The car you’re looking at has a perfectly clean title.

4. Is it still under warranty?

Buying a later-model used car usually means the vehicle is still under warranty from the manufacturer. This can really add peace of mind, especially if you’re investing a lot of money into a car.

Mitsubishi, for example, offers warranties up to an amazing 10 years / 200,000km. Here are some other brands with competitive warranties:

  • MG 7 years/unlimited km
  • Haval 7 years/unlimited km
  • Kia 7 years/unlimited km
  • GWM 7 years/unlimited km

When you’re looking at used cars, it pays to do your research because some things can void a manufacturer's warranty. These can include;

  • The vehicle not being serviced at the correct intervals
  • Maintenance work carried out by an unauthorised mechanic
  • Non-genuine parts used
  • Extensive modifications
  • A repaired write-off

Good answers

The car you’re looking at is under warranty and will remain under warranty for at least several months into your ownership.

5. How long has the seller owned the car?

Although this question would not apply to a dealership, it can be really handy when buying a used car from a private seller.

Someone selling a car shortly after buying it can raise concerns. Have they bought it only to find problems?

They might be trying to flip the car for profit too, not necessarily a bad thing so make sure to weigh up all the seller’s answers.

Good answers

The seller has owned the car long enough to find and carry out (or at least warn you of) any repairs needed.

6. Has the car been modified in any way?

Most people prefer an unmodified car for a few reasons:

  • An unmodified car isn’t fitted with any non-genuine parts
  • The engine isn’t under extra stress (eg. from a third-party turbo kit)
  • Modifications can void the warranty
  • Some modifications, eg. off-road suspension, can indicate the car’s had a rough life

On the other hand, genuine manufacturer modifications can be a great extra bonus. For example, a bull bar or dealer options like upgraded seats and features.

Good answers

The car you’re looking at comes with no modifications or only genuine ones that you’re keen on.

7. Will I look forward to driving this car?

Probably the most important question of all, one to ask yourself. Buying a new or used car is a big thing for most of us - usually a big financial commitment and a big (positive) impact on our lifestyle.

The car you’re looking at should be exciting and have you looking forward to driving it, perhaps making the work commute that little bit better, perhaps letting you explore the open road and enjoy some awesome road trips.

A car that you’re not interested in can become a chore to drive and, in many cases, lead to neglect, more servicing expenses and a lower resale value.

Good answers

The car you choose will be more than something to get from A to B and you’ll get excited about owning and driving it.

At the end of the day

Buying a used car is likely to have you asking plenty of ‘what if’ questions; what if it needs repairs? What if a better option comes along after I pay a deposit? So it pays to do your research, shop around and feel confident with your next vehicle.

When it comes to organising your car loan you’re in good hands with Positive Lending Solutions. We help countless people get into the right cars matching their lifestyles, needs and wants.

Get in touch with our team of experts today on [ph] or get the ball rolling with a quick quote and we’ll talk you through any concerns as well as give you an idea of your options (present and future).

There’s no need to go it alone.

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