Used Car Shopping? Four Questions To Ask The Dealer

If you are looking to upgrade your car, but aren't ready for a brand new car, a used car is a great alternative. Many auto dealers offer certified preowned cars with excellent warranties. Some "used" cars only have a few thousand miles on them and are in fantastic condition. When shopping around for your next car, ask the dealer these important questions.

What is your inspection process?

When you are shopping around for used cars, you will probably run across cars that are labeled as certified preowned vehicles. These are ideal in terms of used vehicles, but you need to be sure they are what they say. You can do this by inquiring about the inspection process and who exactly certified it. The dealership should be willing to provide you with information about the mechanic that inspects and repairs their vehicle and with a copy of the inspection report. With that, ask for a copy of the maintenance records for the vehicle. Manufacturer inspections are ideal if you can find a dealership offering them.

Do you provide any new equipment or accessories?

Just because you are buying a vehicle that was previously owned by someone else, doesn't mean the dealership won't offer you some new items to go along with it. Ask if any new equipment comes with the preowned vehicle, such as a roof rack, or a brand new bumper since the current one has a dent in it. Some dealerships will put in a newer stereo system, replace the interior seat covers, or put new tires on a car. Also ask if any new security features come with the car, such as an alarm or GPS tracking device.

Can you take it for an extended test drive?

Traditional test drives are done with a sales person from the dealership riding along with you. These test drives are just around the block, often no more than a few miles. However, some dealerships are willing to let you go on an extended test drive. This lets you drive the car on your own on freeways or in canyons so you can test the handling and the tires of the car. Of course, you will need to be approved by signing a legal document that states you will return the car. You might also need to prove you have car insurance and leave behind some type of collateral. 

Is there a return policy?

Some dealerships offer return policies on their used and preowned vehicles. It might be a couple days or a couple weeks. This lets you try the car out and find out if it is a good fit for you. You may find that while it runs great, your spouse isn't a big fan of driving it, but you didn't find this out until you returned home with the vehicle. Ask the dealership if they provide a return policy and how long you have before you can return it.