Buying a used car certainly has its benefits, especially when you consider the significantly lower price tag that comes with a pre-owned versus brand new car. Still, you want to make sure you get a good deal. When looking at a pre-owned car (whether from a private seller or a dealership), there are a few questions worth asking before you make an offer.
How Many Owners Has It Had?
The number of owners a vehicle has had can be an indication of how well the car was cared for. For example, a car that has only had one owner is more likely to have been properly maintained than a vehicle that has been passed on to several different owners. A search of a car's title history should unveil the number of owners a car has had, and this information should be readily available by any seller.
Are Maintenance Records Available?
While detailed maintenance records dating back to when the car was new will likely not be available, hopefully you should at least be able to see the last couple years' worth of maintenance records for the car. This can be a great way to know what type of work has recently been done, as well as how well the seller or previous owner has taken care of the vehicle. Receipts for routine oil changes and tire rotations are a good indication that the last owner took good care of it.
Are the Miles Mostly City or Highway?
While the number of miles on a car's engine matters to some degree, what is perhaps more important is the type of mileage on the car. After all, city miles are much harsher on an engine than highway miles due to the constant stopping and starting. Therefore, a car with 100,000 highway miles may actually be in better shape than a car with 60,000 city miles.
Has It Been in Any Accidents?
You have every right to know if a vehicle you're thinking about buying has been in an accident. There are services you can utilize to research the car's VIN and uncover previous incident reports. Furthermore, if the car has a "salvage" distinction on its title, this is another sign that the car has been in a serious accident or was otherwise totaled. This doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't buy the car, but you should have a mechanic take a thorough look at it before you buy it.