Questions to Ask at Used Car Dealerships

So you’ve decided your old car is on its last days and it’s time for a new (to you) car. The natural reaction is to start searching for options and places to buy. You may even hop in that old car and visit a few car lots in your area to get your feet wet on the buying process.

As exciting as it is to start shopping for new cars and picture the possibilities of yourself driving them, it is important not to make any rash decisions. Buying a car is a large purchase that should involve preparation. This preparation should include finding the right used car dealership to purchase from.

To make sure you purchase from the best place for you, ask the following questions when you’re visiting dealerships.

What Do I Really Have to Pay?

When you see the price advertised for used cars, that is rarely the actual amount you’ll have to pay. Additionally, there will almost always be other dealer fees and charges, taxes, and registration fees that aren’t accounted for in the bare minimum list price. Ask about the total cost up front.

If the used car dealership has a service center, ask the service department for an estimate on the cost of new tires, regular oil changes, and other routine maintenance tasks. Every vehicle’s true cost of ownership is slightly different.

You should also do your due diligence and call your auto insurance carrier to ask about how much insurance coverage will cost you.

Is My Car On the Lot?

In the age of online shopping and quick commerce, it is very likely that you originally saw the car you’re shopping for online, or, even worse, the car you’re shopping for has already been scooped up by another speedy shopper.

Keep in mind that it is possible that the car you want isn’t always on the lot when you’re visiting and, considering how important it is to test drive and examine a car before purchase, you need to have alternative options in mind just in case.

Call ahead to the dealership to confirm the vehicle is on the lot. This also allows them to get it ready for you to drive to make your process go smoother and faster.

I Have a Pre-Approved Loan. Can You Match or Beat It?

Most of us regular drivers don’t have the cash to pay for a car up front, so it is natural to pursue financing and pay the car off over time. Many shoppers even obtain pre-approvals from their favorite bank or credit union before ever looking at a vehicle at all.

While you may have an offer you like, used car dealerships also usually have a network of lenders they work with that gives them the flexibility to work with you on your loan and the interest rate.

If you already have a pre-approval, you can use that as your minimum rate and see if the dealership can get you a better deal. Or, if you’d rather not have your credit checked again, simply bring your financing with you on the day you shop.

How Much Can I Get For My Old Car?

As mentioned above, most drivers don’t have the funds laying around to buy a car outright, so many decide to use the value a dealership will give them for their old car as a de facto down payment.

Dealers should have a good idea of a fair amount to offer you on your trade because they appraise vehicles daily, but it is still reasonable for you to do some homework to make sure the dealership is being fair.

Before selling your current ride to the dealership, make sure to check your car’s value online and in your area to make sure you get the most you can for your car before you pull the trigger.

Purchasing a New Car Can Be A Lot

When shopping for new cars, anxiety can grow as time passes without finding that right car and right dealership. It is important to remember the process can be long and hard, so don’t get discouraged and make an uninformed or rushed decision.

It could take visiting multiple dealerships and driving many cars, but make sure to ask the right questions and be thorough, deciding on the right car at the right price. Your bank account and peace of mind will thank you later.

If you have any questions, please ask below!