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10 questions you should ask when buying a used car

Buying a used car can marry excitement with dread. You put yourself in quite the pickle when rocking up to somebody’s house to look at their used car with absolute trust. How can you believe everything they’re saying? How can you trust that the details they are spouting to you about the vehicle are the absolute truth? And moreso, what questions should you be asking to ensure you get as much honest information as possible?

Well, have no fear. We are here to guide you. Below are the ten questions you should ask when checking out a used car.

1) Can you show me the logbook?

This should go without saying. You will need to see a log book when purchasing a car, but make sure you ask to see it whilst viewing, because it will prove the legitimacy of ownership and will get you off to a good start in terms of trustworthiness.

2) Has the car ever been in a crash?

After you’ve seen the logbook and are viewing the car, casually throw this question in the direction of the seller. It may throw him or her off guard, but you are looking for honesty in their response. The key here is to try to come across as if you know what you are talking about.

3) Is this the original paintwork?

This should have the same effect as the previous question. You are looking for the honesty here before you pose the next question.

4) Does the car have service history? Can I see the relevant paperwork for this?

This will hopefully prove whether or not the last two answers you received were honest. You will be paying out (likely) thousands of euro for this vehicle, so ensuring it has a history of being looked after in the best possible way proves reliability. You are essentially looking for a consistent history of care.

5) Does the car have in-date NCT?

Obviously NCT is compulsory but a car will have added value if an NCT has been completed recently, If a car is coming to its NCT deadline and somebody is selling, perhaps they are dreading that NCT for a reason. If the NCT is approaching, ask the seller if they would put it through the test before you part with your money.

6) Do you have both keys for the vehicle?

This is an essential requirement for any vehicle. Beware the ‘one key seller’. There should be two keys for every vehicle.

7) How many previous owners has the car had?

You will be able to find this information on the logbook, but it’s always a great question to ask. If there are plenty of owners, it’s unlikely ALL of them took care of the car. You’d also need to ask yourself why so many people have sold this car at some point. One or two owners is always preferable and adds value to the vehicle.

8) Why are you selling this car?

Great question. It’s also self explanatory. If this car is so good, why do you want to get rid of it? Of course, there are always legitimate reasons. ‘I am upgrading’. ‘I have now got a company car.’ ‘I need a bigger car for my growing family’ etc. But make sure you put the seller on the spot with this question.

9) Can I take the car for a test drive?

This should go without saying, Make sure you give the car a good run before parting with your money. I would recommend getting the car into every gear during a test drive and also make sure you check the lights/indicators and electrics during this trial run. Also, check each of the four seat belts to ensure they are all in working order.

10) Can you reduce the price?

If the answers to all of the above are satisfying, it’s time to negotiate. At a guess, I would say there is always room for manoeuvre. Nobody advertises at their rock-bottom price. Start your negotiations low and try to meet at a satisfactory price that suits you.

Things you should look out for when looking at a used car:

  1. Does the car sit squarely on the road or does it appear higher at one end or on one side?

  2. Check for chips or cracks in any glass.

  3. Check all electrics work, windows, doors.

  4. Are there any body panels that appear a slightly different colour to the others?

  5. Do the gaps around the doors and between body panels appear even?

  6. Do the bonnet and boot close squarely and easily?

  7. Do the front and rear bumpers sit with the bodywork squarely at both sides?

  8. Are there any decorative trims that are cleaner or newer on one side of the car than the other?

Read more of DoneDeal’s top tips for buying a car here.

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