Questions to ask when buying a car – Some thought starters

The final in our three-part series looking at what you need to know when buying a car gives you some hints and tips about what to ask when buying...

The final in our three-part series looking at what you need to know when buying a car gives you some hints and tips about what to ask when buying a car and when looking at finance such as a personal loan.  You know what to look for, you know the crazy terms that might be used – here are some questions to help you get started and get the deal done.

For brand new cars:

  • What is the service schedule for the car? How often does the car need to be serviced, ask all dealers about a similar range (like the first 50,000km) so you can compare the total costs and requirements.
  • What is the manufacturer’s warranty period and how many kilometres are covered? – You’ll get a certain number of years, and a number of k’s – the first one you reach and your warranty is done and dusted.
  • What items are not covered by the warranty? – Sure tyres won’t be covered, but what little things might not be covered that you assume are?
  • When can the car be delivered? – You might have to wait weeks, or months – or there might be one in the yard already.
  • Is there one available today – if so, what colours and configurations? – If it’s in the yard, it’s costing the company money – drive a better deal on price if the car is ready to go.
  • Can I take it for a test drive? – Don’t take no for an answer here – why on earth would you buy a car you haven’t driven?

If you’re looking at a secondhand car:

  • Is the car registered? Does the seller actually own the car? – Ask the seller to show you a current certificate of registration, a safety check report (‘pink slip’ if your state has them) that is not more than one month old, and proof that the person selling the car is the owner – such as a driver’s licence and sales receipt.
  • Has this vehicle been in any accidents? – Get an honest answer, but check under the hood and look carefully around the body for any tell-tale signs of accident damage.
  • Does this vehicle have any outstanding financial interest? E.g. is there still any money owing on this car? Perform a REVS check online using the vehicle identification number (VIN) to find out.
  • How many km has this car done? – Check the dash, but ask too – because for older cars – who knows, it might have ticked over!
  • Has it been serviced regularly? – Talk to the owner, get a feeling for how they looked after the car – in their own words.
  • Do you have servicing papers? – Don’t take their word for it, every service should have been stamped in the book, no matter where it was carried out.
  • Are there any warranties still valid? – check with the owner, then call the local dealer to confirm.

Finance questions:

  • Are there balloon payments on this loan? E.g. will you be hit with a large outstanding payment at the end of the loan period?
  • Do you penalise for early or extra repayments?
  • What are the fees for this finance? How much are the setup or administration fees?
  • Are there ongoing fees? Are these monthly or yearly?
  • What is the total cost of the purchase over time?

Just some thought starters to get you going. Critically, don’t impulse buy – this is a huge purchase, you don’t want to regret it.

We compiled these questions with the help of the team at People’s Choice Credit Union




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