Financially and ecologically speaking, if you don’t have to buy a car, don’t. This is one of the largest budget items for most people, so if you can do without, take advantage of that fact .
If you do have to buy a car, it usually makes more financial sense to buy a car new instead of used. That said, here are the important questions to ask first when considering a used vehicle purchase.
How many owners has the car been through, how long have you owned it, and why are you selling it?
Ideally, you want to hear that the seller was the original owner, has owned the car for years, and is selling to upgrade to a newer car.
Has the car been in a major accident or flooded? If so, how was it damaged and how was it repaired?
If a car was flooded (think Hurricane Katrina), don’t touch it with the proverbial 10-foot pole.
How many miles are on the odometer, and is it the original odometer?
Driving about 12,000 miles a year is considered standard, although many people drive at least 15,000 a year.
Where was the car usually driven, and where was it parked?
All things being equal, it’s better if a car was regularly driven longer distances than short ones.
Was it regularly maintained, and if so, can I see the service records?
It’s possible the car was maintained by someone the owner knows, or by the owner personally.
What’s not working properly and can I take it for inspection by my mechanic?
If the seller is hesitant or unwilling to let your mechanic inspect the car, that’s a major red flag.