Buying a used car shouldn’t feel like you’re taking a gamble. Unfortunately—depending on where you buy the car—the information you need to make the right buying decision isn’t always readily available.

And if that information isn’t provided, you need to ask. 

If you’re intimidated at the thought of going to see a car in person and meeting the dealer or seller, we’ve got you covered. Asking a few key questions will help you learn the most important information about the car you’re looking at. That way you can confidently make the decision to either buy it or keep looking. 

Best questions to ask any used car seller 

Whether you’re buying a used car from a dealership or private seller, these are the key questions you need the answers to. 

1. What’s the year and mileage?

Here’s an easy-to-remember rule of thumb: a car will rack up about 20,000 km a year; anything higher is considered above average. So if the car you have your eye on is three years old, you might reasonably expect it to have around 60,000 km clocked.

If the mileage is higher than that, it could mean there’s more wear and tear to worry about, but it’s not a deal breaker. There are other factors to consider too, like how well the car was looked after by its previous owner, if it’s been in any accidents or had any recalls, or if the vehicle is certified pre-owned (a question for dealerships only), all of which we discuss below.

2. Is the car currently experiencing any mechanical issues? 

If you’re looking at used cars at a dealership, they have an obligation to disclose most damage or mechanical problems to you. But you should still ask your dealer if there’s any current issues at all—big or small—for each vehicle you’re considering.

With a private seller, you’ll want to press them on this question a bit. Smaller things may slip their mind, so ask a lot of follow up questions to jog their memory. 

  • Are all of the power windows working? 
  • Do you have issues starting the car in winter? 
  • Has it ever overheated or displayed the check engine light? 

3. Has the car had any major repairs or recalls?

It’s important to learn as much as you can about the vehicle’s history, in particular whether it’s ever had any major repairs, either as the result of an accident, mechanical failure, or manufacturer defect. 

Accidents can create chronic and long-lasting issues in a vehicle, so it’s important to know what kind of major work has been done on any car or truck you’re thinking about buying. Likewise, if there was a manufacturer recall to repair something faulty with the vehicle, you’ll want some confirmation on whether the work was done or not. If the model you’re looking at has been repeatedly recalled by the manufacturer, it might be more hassle than it’s worth. 

4. Can I see the vehicle history report? 

The best way to get a definitive answer on whether the vehicle has been in an accident or had some major repairs is to view a vehicle history report. Some dealerships will have this readily available for you to see, but some won’t provide it at all and very few private sellers will include it. 

In addition to damage and accidents, it will tell you other valuable details, including whether the car has ever been reported stolen or if there’s a lien on the vehicle. 

5. Is there any cosmetic damage to know about? 

Ask the seller to confirm if there’s any cosmetic damage inside or out before you arrange to view the vehicle. If there’s major cosmetic damage inside or out, you may want to save yourself the time. When you do view the car, thoroughly examine the interior and exterior, looking for scratches, dents, scuffs, rips in upholstery, and so on. A small dent in the body could be the sign of a minor accident, while a small stain on the interior could be the sign of water ingress. 

6. Can I see the maintenance records?

Many car owners take excellent care of their vehicles and have the paperwork to prove it. Ask to see any and all available records, from oil changes to transmission checks. A vehicle that has been well maintained is an indication of good health. If there are no maintenance records available, you could check the vehicle history report for previous service history.

7. Is this car still under warranty?

Vehicle warranties stay with the car, not the owner. So before you sign on the dotted line find out if the manufacturer’s warranty is still valid. A valid warranty means many mechanical repairs will be covered, until the warranty expires. 

It’s not a big deal if a car’s warranty has expired, but it’s good to know before you buy. Most dealerships will be able to tell you this right away. 

8. Can I test drive the car?

Test drives should be non-negotiable. If a seller doesn’t let you take the vehicle for a spin, or is trying to rush you through a test drive, that’s a red flag. At worst, they might be trying to hide something from you. At best, you might end up with a vehicle you don’t feel 100% happy about. 

9. Can I hire a mechanic to inspect this car?

It helps to get some expert advice before you buy. Ask the seller if you can take the vehicle to a mechanic of your choosing for an inspection. They’ll be able to give you a little more insight into the car’s current condition plus potential work that will need to be done in the future.

We at VIC Top Cash For Cars, Always Ready to Assist You. Anytime. Everywhere. Any Day.

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If you are in Junction Village and looking for VIC Top Cash For Cars, below is the best way to visit us.


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Narre Warren South VIC 3805

(03) 7035 7828


9 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Used Car