Essential Questions to Ask at Car Dealerships

Essential Questions to Ask at Car Dealerships

Making Sure You Have All Your Bases Covered During a New Car Purchase

Buying a car can be a stressful process, especially if you’re not completely sure what you’re doing. If you’ve ever been to a big car dealership then you already know it can be a bit overwhelming. More often than not, the amount of selection almost feels like too much choice. So, how do you find the perfect car for you at the price that’s going to work for your monthly budget? And how do you ensure that the car is going to function as advertised?

Worry not – the car buying process isn’t as complicated as you may think. In fact, making sure that you get the best car is simply a matter of asking the right questions and doing a little bit of research on your end. Ask the following questions to ensure that you have all your bases covered when you step onto the lot.

Question #1 – “Is the car on the lot and available for viewing?”

If you’re like most car buyers, you probably did the majority of your shopping online and have identified a couple of cars that look like they may be right for you. Most dealerships are pretty good about listing their full catalogue of vehicles on their website. Ask to see the specific car you’ve been looking at online so that you can double-check it and make sure everything is a match. The mileage, color, trim level, and so forth should all check out.

Question #2 – “Does the vehicle come with any aftermarket equipment?”

When a car is manufactured, all of the pieces that make up the car are referred to as factory equipment. However, sometimes an owner will want to make upgrades using equipment that aren’t from the original manufacturer – typically a stereo or higher quality speakers. This is what’s known as aftermarket equipment. When buying a car – especially a used car – you’ll want to inquire about any aftermarket equipment that may have been added to the original vehicle.

Question #3 – “What will the final price be for the car?”

When buying a car, you’re going to see two prices: the sticker price and the final price. Unfortunately, the final price is significantly more than the sticker price because it has all the fees and surcharges wrapped into it. As a buyer, you need to inquire about what that final price is going to be since it’ll affect your overall monthly payment. Additionally, if you have a car to trade in, now would be the time to bring that up. A trade-in will drastically cut down on the cost of your new or used vehicle.

Question #4 – “What are the terms of my warranty?”

If you’re buying a new car, it will more than likely come with a warranty. That feeling of protection and security is what warrants paying the cost of a new car. However, not all warranties are created equal. Some cars only offer two-year limited warranties while others will offer multi-year extended warranties. As a buyer, you want to go with the car that affords you the most amount of protection possible, so try to negotiate for a longer warranty if you can.

When it comes to used cars, you’re either going to have no warranty at all or you’ll get a short window of coverage with a certified pre-owned vehicle. Again, you want to advocate for the longest warranty possible, so try to negotiate to lengthen your warranty with a certified pre-owned vehicle.

Question #5 – “When was the car last serviced?”

Most dealerships in the used car game will do their diligence to ensure that everything is up to code, but it doesn’t hurt to ask the seller about the car’s service and maintenance record. The last thing that you want is to buy a car that is due for a bunch of services or major repairs all at once. This is especially important if you’re buying a car with a lot of mileage on it. The more mileage, the more likely the car is going to need repairs done.

Question #6 – “May I see the vehicle’s CARFAX report?”

This is a question that you should ask if you’re looking at a used car. If you’ve never seen a CARFAX report before, this is the vehicle’s unbiased history that includes how many previous owners the car has had, the body style, the engine information, included safety options/features, service history, accident history/damage reports, title information, recall notices, and odometer readings.

The importance of being allowed to review this report is so critical that we strongly advise you to consider not buying the car unless you’re given access to it. Buying a used car without access to its records is too risky.

Question #7 – “May I take the car for an extended test drive?”

In the event that the dealership has answered all of your previous questions to your satisfaction so far, then it’s time to see if the car drives as advertised. Ask the salesperson if you can take the car for an extended test drive so that you can really get a feel for the car and how it drives. Not only do you want to drive it around the neighborhood of the dealership, you also want to get it out on the highway and see how it handles at high speeds. If something is off about the way it handles, brakes, or accelerates, let the dealer know about it so that they can look into the issue and find out what’s wrong. Their service team may need to take another look to get to the root of the problem.

Question #8 – “What are my financing terms?”

If you’ve done the math beforehand, you’ve probably already determined the monthly car payment that your budget will allow. However, the deal isn’t done until you secure financing on the vehicle. If you haven’t arranged this already through your bank or credit union, most dealerships have several loan options they can offer customers. Obviously, you’ll want to pay attention to things like interest rate, the overall term length of the loan, and what your monthly payment is going to be (keeping in mind that insurance will not be included). The average car loan is around 72 months. In the event that you need to knock down your monthly payment even further, some lenders will allow you to go longer.

Start the Purchase Process of a New or Used Car Today

Now that you know the essential questions to ask when buying a car, the only thing that’s left is to begin the shopping process. The quickest way to search in your local area is by Googling the phrase “used cars near me” or “used cars for sale near me.” There are plenty of used cars in Kansas City that should suit any budget, so finding the one that’s right for you is just a matter of putting in the time to do the research. Once you’ve narrowed things down to your top two or three choices, you can start visiting dealerships in person knowing you’re fully prepared with the right line of questioning.

Francis Baylon
Francis Baylon is a creator, writer, and publisher with a deep knowledge of every heritage. Worldwide research taught her that every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.

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