blue Volkswagen Polo 5-door hatchback

When it comes to negotiating the price for a car, the individual with the most knowledge always wins. So, if you’re planning to purchase a used car, you should learn everything about the process and model of the car you’re interested in. And as you may have guessed, the fastest way to learn about buying a used car is to ask questions. Ask the auto dealer who’s trying to sell it, check on Google to find information about the model of the car you like, and ask a friend who’s passionate about cars to accompany you at the dealership.

Google can offer limited information, like what you should expect to find under the hood of a particular model. But it’s best to show up to the auto salon and ask the seller questions about the car you want to buy and let them talk.

What kind of questions should you ask? Here is a list you should print before you visit the dealership.

What’s the status of the title?

Some online resources can track if a car has been in an accident and provide you with its history, so you can determine if the miles on the odometer are genuine. You only need the vehicle identification number to find more about the car. However, you can also ask the seller about the car’s history to ensure it has a clear title. Don’t purchase a vehicle that has a loan or lien on it because it’s a tricky process to transfer the finance plan from the present owner to you.

A car with a flood, junk, salvage, or other damage-related issues in the title should raise a red flag. It’s not worth buying a vehicle that may cost more to repair than purchase.

Has the car been in an accident?

Only because a car has a clear title, it doesn’t mean it didn’t experience a minor or moderate crash. It’s less likely for car owners to declare one if it didn’t trigger significant damage. But you want to buy a used car that hasn’t been in severe collisions, and therefore you should ensure that the head restraints, airbags, and seatbelts are working correctly before purchasing it.

Where are the maintenance records?

Someone who cares for the car can offer insights into its maintenance history. You are interested in finding out about the brake pad replacements, oil changes, wheel and tire repairs, and paintwork. A meticulous owner usually keeps the receipts for all replacements to help you figure out when you need to change them again. If you buy an older car, you should also ask for an extensive service history to determine if it has been appropriately maintained and prevent any surprises.

Do I need to make any repairs soon?

You want to know if there are any severe issues or repairs that require your attention shortly. While some sellers don’t volunteer this information, they answer the question when asked directly. Ask if the timing belt needs replacement, and ask about essential safety checks like discs, brake pads, tires, and other components that can be pretty expensive.