Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car in 2023

Woman contemplating questions to ask

Buying a used car may not always be a straightforward process.

Buying a vehicle, whether it’s from a dealership or a private seller, requires some due diligence. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for or which questions to ask, you could easily end up with headaches.

Make sure you know what you want and need when you’re shopping around for a car! Once you find exactly what you’re looking for, it can be tempting to want to quickly finish the deal, but before you shake hands and drive off into the sunset, be sure to ask the following questions..

Are the Service Records Available?

Whether it’s a dealership or private seller, you always want to ask for the service records of the used car you’re looking into. Anyone selling a car should be able to present you receipts or some type of documentation indicating that the car in question was serviced regularly.

They should also be ready and willing to let you know of any repairs, part replacements or updates made along the way.

drawing of a car with service options surrounding it

Technicians will regularly make notes and recommendations on vehicle repair orders, so seeing the last few invoices may clue you in to repairs needed in the near future.

If the seller can’t present you with the proper documentation, it may mean that the regularly recommended services such as fluid changes, tire rotations, etc were carried out infrequently or completely neglected. It may also mean that they’re trying to hide major repairs. Getting a certified inspection completed will help to paint a more clear picture of what may be needed now or in the near future.

How Has the Car Been Maintained?

Aside from seeing the service records for yourself, you also want to find out where the car was serviced. You want to make sure that the repair shop itself is reputable and follows the factory suggested maintenance schedule. Private sellers should also be willing to give you the name of the mechanic who worked on the car to put your mind at ease.
cartoon car being worked on

Has the Car Been in Any Accidents?

Accident and negative damage history affect the value of any vehicle. Always ask the seller about previous accidents and if they’re willing to provide you with the vehicle’s history report. If not, you can pay the fee yourself to get the Carfax or AutoCheck. However, you really don’t want to purchase a car from someone who tries to hide these important details from you as it can cost you more in repairs in the long run.
two cartoon cars crashing

What is the Car’s Ownership History?

You need to know how many people owned the car and put wear and tear on it before you. You’ll also want to find out for how long each owner had the car. A car that’s been passed along like a hot potato is an indication that it may be unreliable or in need of expensive repairs.
cartoon car keys

Can I See the Title?

the word "title" written in chalk

This is especially important if you’re dealing with a private seller. Always make sure they can present you with a clean title of ownership that’s free of any loans or liens.

Never buy a car without a clean title. It could mean that someone else may have ownership rights to it and may try to take the vehicle back after you’ve purchased it — including the seller’s bank if they have an outstanding loan on the car. So, always ask to see the title and the registration while you’re at it!

Can I Have a Mechanic Inspect the Car?

Having an independent mechanical inspection completed can save you a major headache down the road. However, you should only ask this question if you’re serious about buying the car since mechanics don’t do inspections for free.

A seller with nothing to hide shouldn’t have an issue with this. Don’t be afraid to ask for this if you’re shopping at a car dealership either. The dealer’s own technicians could have missed a defect that an independent mechanic finds.

Is There Any Reason I Shouldn’t Drive this Car Across the Country Tomorrow?

 This is a fun question that you can ask for good measure as it has the potential to throw the seller off-balance. Of course, you want to pay close attention to the seller’s response, ensuring that they’re confident in their answer because they’re selling you something reliable and well-maintained. If they flinch at the question or stammer in their answer, it could mean that the car isn’t all that reliable.

Buying a used car in 2023 may take a lot of effort, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. As long as you know what you want and what’s reasonably acceptable from a used car — as well as the right questions to ask — you can end up with a great car that’ll enjoy for years to come. This is especially true if you buy a used car with Motobyo; we’ve got all the tools and resources you need to find the perfect used car for you!