10 Questions to Ask
When Buying a Car

These 10 questions to ask when buying a car can save you from making a huge mistake...! Help yourself to buy with confidence and know these used car questions before you go!

The following used car buying questions are set up in a chronological order (10 would be the first and 1 would be the last question) and not so much in order of importance, as you'll see my strongest recommendation is not #1.

That being said even the order they are asked can vary some, but this should be about right as to when these very valuable used car questions should be asked. So let's get started...

10 Key Questions
to Ask When Buying a Car

This first series of questions to ask when buying a car should typically be asked before the test drive or if not then, then shortly thereafter.

10. Is there a vehicle history report available?

Vehicle history reports aren't the end all be all of a cars history, but can give you a quick look at all the reported incidents that are associated with the car.

If you see that the car has been in three accidents, well then there is really no reason to move any farther with this car and you've just saved a bunch of time.

9. Can I see the dealerships inspection report?

If they've done a thorough inspection and are a reputable dealership, then they should have no problems showing you what they found during their inspection and "hopefully" what was fixed.

8. Can I have the car inspected by my own mechanic?

It's not always a must to have the car inspected independently, although recommended, but if they say no to this question, then you can assume they are either shady and/or there is something wrong with the car. You can also check out my used car inspection page to learn how to inspect a car like a pro on your own.

7. What freebies come with the car?

There are many "freebies" that can come with a car when you are buying, but if you ask at the wrong time, then they'll cost you. Take a look at my Free Car Buying Extras page to learn what they are and when to ask for them.

6. Does the dealership have a return policy?

Many dealerships do not offer a return policy and even those that do will have some sort of fee associated with returning a car after the sale.

It's in your best interest to know this before you sign that 5, 6 or even 7 year legally binding contract. If they do not have a return policy than it makes used car question #5 all the more important.

The next series of questions to ask when buying a car will typically take place just before or during your car buying negotiations...

5. Can I borrow the car for the night?

In my 11 step car buying guide I stress this as one of, if not the single most important steps to take when buying a car. Don't and you may regret it...Big Time! See step 9 of the car buying guide to learn more: Borrowed Car Agreement.

4. What's the out the door amount (OTD)?

Now here are some questions to ask when buying a car once you get down to the negotiation stage and you'll certainly want to know the OTD amount.

Oftentimes dealers will simply try to tell you the sales price plus fees, but what are the fees?

  • Doc fees
  • Tax
  • Title
  • License
  • Fake fees, etc.

You'd be surprised what may be considered a legitimate fee (by the dealer) and are in reality fluff. Take a look at my Car Dealer Fees Gonna Getcha' page to learn more.

3. Can I get a breakdown of the financing?

Well you've negotiated your deal and you want to gather as much information to take home with you when you FedEx It (question #5) as you can to make sure you are getting a fair deal.

[See my negotiating for non-negotiators series How to Buy a New Car and/or How to Buy a Used Car]

You'll want to know:

  • The OTD amount
  • The finance rate
  • Term of the loan
  • Monthly payments
  • How much you are expected to put down (if any)
  • How much you are getting for your trade (if applicable)
  • Exactly what you are buying the car for.

All this information will allow you to do some research from the comfort of your home to be sure everything seems to be in line and you are not being raked over the coals.

2. What warranty is left and is a vehicle extended warranty available?

If there is factory warranty left [See Best New Car Warranty] great! How much? If there is none, little or you just want the extended coverage, then how much do they cost based on the length of coverage and miles of coverage you'd want?

Warranties, in my opinion, are very valuable and can be a bit of a financial life saver, but dealerships often over charge by hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I'd highly recommend you take a peak at my Vehicle Extended Warranty page to learn more and you'll also find 12 very important used car questions to ask that pertain to warranties.

You'd also want to inquire about GAP Insurance availability and costs (extremely important), plus any other car dealer insurance that may be available.

The last of the questions to ask when buying a car is asked the day after you've borrowed the car and are ready to finalize the deal...

1. Am I approved?

You're happy with the car and all your used car questions have been answered favorably, but are you actually approved? In today's tough economy even good credit customers are running into obstacles when it comes to financing.

I'd recommend knowing (ask for proof) that you are 100% approved before you take delivery or else you risk being the next victim of a spot delivery scam.

I hope this list of questions to ask when buying a car have helped to give you an insiders view as to what is important to ask to protect yourself from making a mistake or even being taken advantage of. Feel free to contact me below if you have your own new or used car questions you'd like answers to.

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