7 Important Things to Ask When Buying a Used Car from a Dealership
7 Important Things to Ask When Buying a Used Car from a Dealership
Are you ready to own a new set of wheels?
In your quest to save money, you might have your sights set on purchasing a pre-loved vehicle. If you find the right one, this can be a great way to lower your monthly payments without sacrificing quality or style.
Yet, anyone who's ever driven a lemon knows that you can't always judge a book by its cover, or a car by its shell.
Before you sign on the dotted line and drive away, it's important to do your due diligence first.
Today, we're sharing seven important things to ask when buying a used car. Be it in a used car dealership in Saskatoon or anywhere in Canada.
Sit down with your dealer and find these answers to make a more informed decision you'll appreciate down the road.
Ready to learn more? Let's get started!
1. Can I Test Drive It?
This is one of the most important steps to take when buying a used car.
Why? A vehicle can look great on the dealership floor, sound great on paper, and even hit all the right price points. However, the real test comes when you hit the pavement and take it for a spin.
That said, go ahead and ask the salesman if you can take the car for a test drive. When you do, ask about the possibility of keeping it for longer than the standard 15-minute trip around the block. If you can, take it home overnight.
This way, you can take it on an extended drive. You'll be able to discern how it operates on different kinds of road conditions, how it parks, how it starts up in the morning, and more. These are elements you might miss if you're limited to a quick one-and-done test that leaves much up to the imagination.
2. Can You Show Me the Pre-Certification Inspection?
Are you considering purchasing a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) used the vehicle? If so, you're within your rights to request a copy of the pre-certification inspection. In most cases, these cars will come directly from the dealership that you are shopping at.
For example, you might consider a car that was previously leased and returned to the dealership with low mileage, now available for sale with a warranty that resembles that of a new car. Throughout its lifetime, it was maintained and inspected at the same location.
Even if that is the case, go ahead and request a full report of the CPO inspection notes. This way, you can take a closer look at the exact mechanical condition of the used car, along with any anticipatory service needs it will require in the future.
Third-Party Vehicle History Reports
In addition to CPO inspection notes and any other available history that your dealer can provide, it's also smart to request additional details and verification. It pays to be as thorough as possible when looking into where your car has been, who's worked on it, and any issues it's experienced since it first left the lot.
For instance, if your car has ever been in an accident, that's critical information to know.
Talk to your dealer about obtaining a third-party vehicle history report on the car, such as one provided through CarFax. Your dealer should be able to pay for this report without hesitation. In fact, many will advertise this service as a way to bring in new prospective buyers.
If the dealer you're working with is surprised at this request or refuses to fulfill it, continue your search elsewhere. That's a sign of an untrustworthy partner who's more interested in getting your money than easing your mind. If there's nothing to hide, this report should be a natural next step in the buying process.
One word of caution: Even if you do receive this verification report, be sure to check all of the details on it before walking off of the lot. Specifically, make sure the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the report matches the one on the vehicle you're thinking about buying.
3. Can I See Some Demos?
Are you looking for a used vehicle that looks and feels as close to new as possible? A dealer demonstrator, or "demo" in industry-speak, might fit the bill.
These are new vehicles that the dealership uses for test drive purposes. Most dealerships are willing to part with these demos, selling them with only a few hundred or a few thousand kilometers on them.
As a buyer, you'll get a deal on the price on the basis of depreciation. In addition, most dealers are willing to begin a new vehicle warranty upon your purchase. While this might not be a possibility at every dealership you visit, it's definitely worth taking the time to inquire.
4. What is the Background on this Car?
You wouldn't invest in a home without knowing its full backstory, would you?
Try to take the same investigative approach when shopping for a used car. The reality is that you won't know where the car came from unless you ask. These vehicles can come from a variety of sources, including:
Directly from a new car dealer (demo or trade-in)
- Wholesale auctions
- Dealer franchise network auctions
- Rental car fleets
You'll need to know the origin of your car so you can obtain an accurate maintenance history. Don't settle for a dealership that tries to pull the wool over your eyes and glaze over these details. Instead, probe until you're satisfied with the answer you receive.
Technical Details to Know
As you sit down with the dealer to discuss the background and history of your car, there are several technical details to understand. These include:
- Does the car include a spare tire and jack?
- How many people previously owned this car?
- Are the tires in good condition?
- How are the brake pads?
- When were the car's last safety and emissions testing and did it pass?
- Are there signs of smoking or pet damage in the car?
- Is the car's title clear?
- What is the total mileage?
- Is there any past or outstanding recalls on the car?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help give you a more thorough and complete look at the vehicle. You should also inquire about any policies on returns or repairs in the event that you discover an outlying issue with the vehicle after you purchase it.
Auctioned Car Considerations
You should be especially wary about any used cars that come from auctions. Check to see which part of the country the car came from and if it experienced any flood damage. As there are some areas in Canada that are more prone to flooding than others, this is an important consideration to keep in mind.
Auctioned cars often enter the secondary market with myriad under-the-hood issues that can be costly and dangerous to take on. Heavy rains and storms can lead to significant electrical damage that will quickly cause any excitement over your new purchase to turn into regret.
Service History Reports
As you continue to check into the background of the used car you're eyeing, you'll learn its maintenance history. Yet, take this knowledge a step further and ask about any service the car has received since it entered this current dealership.
Why is this step important?
Some used cars fly right off the dealer lot, while others will sit for weeks or even months without an interested buyer. When this is the case, they might begin to require additional maintenance beyond what they've already received. Regardless of the service history of the vehicle, the current dealer might have had to perform repair services or routine checks on the car or truck since it received it.
If this is the case, this recent work could reduce how much the dealer needs to work on the vehicle in the future. This could save you money and keep you from going in for repeat services once the car is in your hands.
5. What Are My Financing Options?
Ask your used car dealer about their car loan services. The dealership should be able to work with leading financial lenders to help you find the best available interest rate for your loan. Then, they should find ways to make the price work within your budget.
From longer loan terms to flexible rate options, they can call upon their industry partnerships to pass along important savings. Walk away from anyone that pressures you or makes you feel like just a number on the way toward a lofty sales target.
While you're talking numbers, there are a few more questions to ask your dealer.
First, can you get a discount if you pay for the used car in cash?
While there might be a financial benefit for your dealer if he or she sets you up on a financing plan, most will accept a cash purchase. That said, ask if you could save any money by going this route.
Other finance-related questions to ask include:
- What are the consideration factors that went into this price?
- What mandatory fees are included?
- Did you include optional fees and if so, what were they?
Then, before you agree to a figure, ask the all-important final question: "Is this the best you can do?"
6. Can You Throw in Any New Extras?
Now is the time to find out how much the Saskatoon used car dealership or any other dealership in Canada really wants your business.
If you've reached a price you're comfortable with, check to see if there is any way to enhance the value.
Before you agree to any terms and get the keys to your new ride, ask the dealer if there are any current specials or promotions that could sweeten the transaction. Specifically, can you get any new additions for free?
From a new set of tires to all-season floor mats or a trunk liner, there are myriad accessories and parts that your dealer might have access to. These are often available at a minimal cost to the dealership, but they could make a world of difference for you. That's why it never hurts to ask!
7. Can I Trade in My Vehicle?
Would your existing car or truck fit in nicely at the dealership you're visiting?
If so, ask the dealer about the possibility of trading in your used vehicle and applying any money earned as a credit on your new used-car purchase.
Not only can this help lower your overall costs, but it also saves you a ton of stress. The process of putting a car up for sale can be laborious and time-consuming, not to mention the headache you'll incur waiting on an interested driver to bite. Instead of juggling negotiations on your own, it can work to your benefit to let the dealer handle this process for you.
Remember These Things to Ask When Buying a Used Car Be it From A Saskatoon Used Car Dealership on Anywhere Else In Canada
Do you have your eyes on a shiny little number at the used car dealership? If so, the idea can be exciting and it's easy to rush ahead of the buying process.
However, hurrying these steps along could mean driving away unsatisfied. Or worst, you could realize down the road that the deal you thought was a winner turned out to be quite the opposite.
To mitigate this risk, take the time to do your homework. Take along this list of things to ask when buying a used car, and go through them, one by one.
A reputable and reliable used car dealer won't balk at any questions you ask, no matter how insignificant they might seem. Regardless of the final figure, this is an important investment and everyone involved should treat it as such.
Looking to partner with a dealer you can trust? That's where we come in. We're Saskatoon's go-to location for quality used vehicles. We have an expansive inventory of cars and trucks designed to meet a variety of needs, preferences, and budgets.
Contact us today to learn more and begin the buying process. The power is already in your hands, now let's put the keys there!