2009 Winter Auto Guide
A close up of a black, white and red gear shift
7 key steps to buying a used car

Make the phone call
4 of 8

Use the phone call to do more than just set up an appointment to see and test-drive the vehicle.

Ask the right questions and you may save yourself time and aggravation. This is particularly true when dealing with a private owner. Here are some questions to ask a private owner:

  • Are you the original owner? If not, when did you buy the vehicle? Do you have contact information for the previous owner?
  • What is the current mileage?
  • Where has the service been performed, and are the maintenance records available?
  • Has it been in an accident? If so, what was the extent of the damage? Where was it repaired?
  • Are there any mechanical issues right now?
  • Do you have the title?
  • Why are you selling the vehicle?

If you are dealing with the original owner, he should know the vehicle's entire history. It is nearly impossible to tell how a vehicle has been driven, so you must rely on cumulative mileage as an indicator of the wear. If the owner has taken proper care of the vehicle, service records should be available. If the owner dances around questions about the title, move on to the next vehicle on your list. Although you may pay a private owner less than a brand franchise dealer, you also have less recourse if there is a problem.




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