7 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Pre-Owned Vehicles


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As you start your hunt for the perfect used car, the task may seem daunting. After all, there is no shortage of pre-owned vehicles on the market. There are, however, numerous pre-owned vehicles that aren't worth considering.

That's why it's essential to start the process with a foundation of knowledge and to take your time sifting through used cars in Niobrara. You should do research before stepping onto a lot to peruse vehicles or meet with a private seller.

Here are seven important questions to ask before purchasing a pre-owned car. Not all sellers will address each of these and other critical questions without you bringing them up, so be prepared.

1. Does the car have a clean history, service records and clear title?

This may be one of the most important questions you ask. Fortunately, there are ways to verify the answer. You can obtain a vehicle history report through Carfax or AutoCheck using the vehicle identification number (VIN). If a car has been in an accident, ask about the extent of damage and the cost of repairs. Be cautious about purchasing a vehicle that was in a serious wreck. Additionally, prioritize finding a well-cared for car. Ask the seller for service records and receipts as proof the car received routine maintenance, repairs and part replacements according to manufacturer specifications.

2. How many miles has it been driven?

Ask this question even before seeing the car, and then check the number with the odometer. Inconsistencies are a red flag. You also should be curious about the kind of miles put on the car, or its primary use, according to Consumer Reports. Miles racked up through highway commuting have less impact on a car's lifespan than those added through multiple short, stop-and-go trips or when towing heavy equipment. Keep in mind, though, "low mileage is nice, but it is no guarantee of gentle care," the Consumer Reports article states.

3. How many previous owners?

If a car has been passing from owner to owner over a short lifespan, beware. That often warns of a reoccurring problem with the vehicle. Additionally, if the owner doesn't know or isn't willing to disclose a list of previous owners, that's a bad sign, as well, according to Digital Trends. Single-owner vehicles are preferable, and pre-owned vehicles with two or more previous owners are "less than desirable," the article states.

4. How is it equipped and do all those features function properly?

Get a rundown of the vehicle's features, including locks, windows, lights, wipers, stereo, turn signal, cruise control and more. Then, make sure they're functioning properly. Ask first, giving the seller a chance to disclose problems, but also check for yourself. You may be fine with certain features or parts needing work, but you should know what you're negotiating over and make an informed decision.

5. Has it been in extreme weather?

Extreme weather events, or even long-term exposure to certain climates, can harm a car. Many vehicles exposed to inclement weather suffer from rust perforation, pitting and rock cracks, according to Huffington Post's blog. Besides the exterior, check the interior for mildew or other flood damage. Additionally, if you are looking at an older car, find out if the car has been driven consistently in extreme temperatures, such as summers in Florida or winters in Minnesota, as doing so can decrease the lifespan of the car, according to Digital Trends.

6. Why are you selling your car?

This simple question is a good place to start a conversation, especially with a private seller. You are looking for them to provide a legitimate reason, such as the vehicle no longer being needed by the primary driver or the desire for a newer model. If the seller can't give a legitimate reason for attempting to sell the car, they might be trying to unload a lemon.

7. Can I take the car for an independent inspection?

There should be no reason the seller won't allow you to take the car for an independent pre-purchase inspection, or bring a trusted mechanic with you to look at the car before purchase. If the seller is hesitant, it could be a warning there's something they don't want you to know, according to CARPROOF. For your sake, receiving an expert, unbiased opinion about the car prior to purchase can help ensure you make a smart decision.

Do your homework. Ask questions. Your car, even if pre-owned, may be one of the largest investments you make. Getting as much information from sellers as possible while looking at used cars in Niobrara will help you make the right purchase.