No Lemons Allowed: 6 Essential Questions To Ask When Buying A Used Car


Buying a car is nerve-wracking, but when you’re planning to buy a used car, it’s even worse. We’ve all heard the horror stories of someone buying a lemon and getting stuck with a car that won’t run. The good news is that it doesn’t have to happen to you. If you know the right questions to ask when buying a used car, you can increase your chances of getting a quality car.

Here’s what you need to know.

Why Asking Questions Is So Important

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When you purchase a home, and the seller knows something is wrong with it, they have to give you a seller’s disclosure document that outlines all of its defects. But when buying a used car, the law doesn’t require sellers to disclose problems. That’s why knowing which questions to ask when buying a used car is so important.

And if when asking these questions, the seller makes a statement to you about the condition of the car, be sure to get it in writing. That’s because if the seller willingly tells you about the car’s condition and puts it in writing, you may have recourse in case the statement was false.

How to Set Your Budget

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Before you begin your hunt for the perfect used car, it makes sense to decide how much you want to spend. It’s one of the most important questions to ask when buying a used car. When buying the car, you can use the money in your savings account and pay cash for it, or you can take out a car loan.

If you decide to take out a loan and make monthly payments on your car, you will need about a 10 percent down payment. If possible, try not to exceed more than three years on your car loan. That’s because the longer the loan term, the higher the interest rate you’ll pay.

Also, if you drag out your loan payoff for six or seven years, the car may not be worth enough at that point to get a decent trade-in amount for it.

But considering that your monthly payments shouldn’t be more than 20 percent of your income, you may need a longer loan term to bring the payments down.

Where to Find a Used Car

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Where to find a used car is another one of the questions to ask when buying a used car that you’ll have to figure out. Luckily, you can buy used cars in a few places. Here are some of the places you can buy a used car.

  • You can search the classified ads and online marketplaces and find one sold by a private seller.
  • You can go to a new car lot and negotiate with a salesperson for a used car.
  • Used car superstores offer a wide selection of used cars
  • Privately owned used car lots offer lower prices, but you should take steps to buy from a credible and honest one
  • If your credit isn’t good, look for a “buy here pay here” used car lot because they will offer you alternative finance options

Each of your options has pros and cons. For instance, when you buy from a new car dealer, you can rest assured that the car is in great condition, but you will pay more for that peace of mind. On the other hand, you’ll find better prices when you buy a used car from a privately owned car lot, but you need to do your homework when selecting who you do business with.

Should you buy a Certified Pre-Owned Car (CPO)?

One of the questions to ask when buying a used car is whether or not you should buy a CPO. The manufacturers of these cars thoroughly inspect them and perform any refurbishment necessary. This option allows you to purchase a used car with the benefit of a manufacturer-backed warranty.

Some dealerships allow their staff to drive cars from the lot, or they loan cars to customers who have their automobiles in the dealership’s shop. Once the cars reach a certain mileage, they inspect them and sell them as CPOs.

You will likely pay a higher price for a CPO, so you will have to determine if the higher price is worth a car that won’t have as many repairs.

Get Your Financing in Order

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Before you go shopping for a used car, you should have your financing in order. If you’re going to pay cash, take along a check so you can pay for the car and drive it off the lot.

But if you’re going to finance the car, you’ll need to take some steps to ensure you get the best loan. Here are some things you can do to make the process smoother.

Know your score

Anytime you apply for a car loan, the lender will check your credit score. And if you know what it is ahead of time, you can take steps to improve it if necessary. For instance, you may find false information on your credit report that you can dispute and have removed.

You can check your credit scores from all three credit reporting agencies for free at

Make your choice

Another one of the questions to ask when buying a used car is where to find the money to pay for it. You have a few options when it comes to getting a loan for a used car. Here are some of the types of places that make these types of loans:

  • National banks: large banks make used car loans to those with excellent credit
  • Credit unions: credit unions offer more flexible lending requirements and frequently, lower interest rates
  • Community banks: small, local banks are willing to make loans to people with no-so-perfect credit
  • Online lenders: if you know your credit score and are confident in your ability to get a loan, online banks can make the process easier and faster
  • Financing companies: if the dealer offers you special financing, it’s likely from one of these lenders. They offer special incentives and discounts during certain times of the year.

​Be proactive

If you have a good credit score, think about getting pre-approved for a car loan before you begin shopping. Doing this helps in two ways. First, the amount of your pre-approved loan gives you some price boundaries when shopping for a car.

Also, when a seller or car dealer knows you have a pre-approval, they will work harder to make a deal with you.

6 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car

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Once you have the basics taken care of it, it’s time to think about the questions to ask when buying a used car. You already know how important it is to do your due diligence to ensure that you buy the best car you can. Now it’s time to get down to business and talk about the specific questions to ask when buying a used car.

Here are six of them.

1. Do a background check

2. Is it really yours?

3. Prove that you loved the car

4. Can I go vroom?

5. Can I get a second opinion?

6. Will you make this right?

That Concludes Our Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car

Did you find the answer you’re looking for? Buying a used car is a big step. And you need all the ammunition you can get to make the right decision. Don’t be shy — ask the seller all of these questions to ensure that you get the best car for you.

Do you have any other questions to ask when buying a used car? If so, we would love to hear about them. Please leave us the details in the comment section below. Who knows? Maybe your questions will cause someone to find the perfect used car for them!


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