The Important Questions To Ask A Dealership


Buying a car or truck can be an incredibly stressful task to undertake and that is generally because it is a purchase that you are going to use every day, and that you are going to spend A LOT of money on. Cars aren’t cheap, and you want to make sure you make the right decision before you sink thousands of dollars into a hunk of metal with 4 tires. That’s why it’s so important to do your research and ask the right questions before you sign your name on the line.

Why It Is Important To Ask Questions At The Dealership

The dealership is going to have the upper hand in any car buying equation. They’ve done this thousands of times and you’ve likely only done this 3-4 times. Even a relatively new employee has sold more cars in a week than you have bought in your life. This gives them a distinct advantage. When you ask questions, the right questions, and ensure you get detailed answers to these, you protect yourself from being taken advantage of. 

Questions To Ask In General

Is the car I’m inquiring about on the lot today?

Important if the car was originally seen online and you aren’t looking at that car currently.Be sure to test drive this vehicle specifically as well. Don’t get roped into driving a different vehicle of the same make and model. Drive the car that you are interested in. 

What is the actual price?

The dealer will know what you mean when you ask this question but specify what the price of the vehicle will be after all the taxes, title and dealership fees are. What price will you sign your name on the line to. 

Are there any aftermarket upgrades on the vehicle?

It is important you ask this question in particular about a used car. If an aftermarket piece of equipment isn’t installed properly or isn’t meant to b used in the car it can have damaging effects on the vehicle. I don’t recommend buying a vehicle with aftermarket upgrades unless you really know what you are doing. 

How many times has the vehicle been test driven?

This is usually a good indicator of the quality of the vehicle and how many people have shown interest and then made a judgment call against the vehicle. 

What is the mileage?

This should be on any listen or sales advertisement you come across but this is a key value determining factor for the vehicle. 

What are financing or payment options for the vehicle?

You need to make sure that you can pay for the vehicle in a way that works for you before you go through the whole deal of negotiating. 

Does the vehicle come with a car warranty, what does it cover and how long is the warranty good for?

If the vehicle doesn’t come with a warranty, it will devalue the car so expect to pay less for the vehicle! Also you can get an extended warranty from a 3rd party for less than $2 per day. 

The Questions to Ask When Looking at Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

Certified pre-owned vehicles are generally lightly used cars that are looked over by a dealership and backed with a dealer warranty after the dealership decides this car can go the distance. Generally these cars are an excellent value if you are looking for a newer car but don’t want to pay the new car tax. New cars depreciate immensely in their first few years so these certified cars are usually a good way to save yourself some money while still getting a newer vehicle. 

  • Is this vehicle a certified pre-owned vehicle with your dealership?
  • What are the benefits of buying a certified pre-owned vehicle with your company?
  • Does the vehicle have a maintenance program or roadside assistance included?
  • What warranty is offered on this certified pre-owned vehicle? 

Questions You Should Ask When Buying A Used Car From A Dealership

Keep in mind that used cars are different from the certified pre-owned vehicles we just discussed. Used cars come with less guarantees and are not inspected to the same degree that certified pre-owned vehicles are. That isn’t to say that you can’t get a great vehicle when you buy used. I only purchase used cars because I don’t desire a flashy new car or more importantly, a car payment. Paying in cash for a used car is the way to do it, but you can finance a vehicle that is used as well if you are approved. 

Regardless of how you pay, there are questions to ask the dealership regarding your used car. 

Where did your company get the car from?

Ask questions about the source such as if the vehicle was a trade in or if they got it from an auction. Ask where specifically the car was located and avoid snow state vehicles because of rust. 

Do you have the vehicle history report?

Most companies will use CarFax as the provider of these reports though there are other reputable companies that provide adequate reports on used cars. The vehicle history report will show things like damage and accidents and other things like reported maintenance. 

When was the car last serviced and maintained?

Was it done by the dealership and when was it last looked over. A car that sits and sits is a car more prone to mechanical issues. If they have them, ask to see maintenance records on the vehicle. If you buy the vehicle be sure to have a copy of these included as well. 

Can I test drive the vehicle?

Follow the test drive checklist below. 

Can I take the car overnight or for an extended test drive?

It is important to make sure you are comfortable with the car before you buy it so if the dealership allows you to take the car overnight you definitely should take advantage of it. A good lot will let you take the car for an extended test drive and even if you don’t end up buying that car, it is a good idea to consider using that dealership in the future. When you take the vehicle for an extended test drive, do what you normally would do in a day with the car. Maybe take your kids to sports practice or go to the grocery store. See how the car fits your lifestyle. 

What are financing or payment options for the vehicle?

You need to make sure that you can pay for the vehicle in a way that works for you before you go through the whole deal of negotiating. 

Does the dealership offer cash discounts for not needing help financing the vehicle?

Ask about all discounts the dealership offers.

Do you accept vehicle trade ins?

If you are interested in trading in your current car, ask about this option with the dealer and see what type of price they will offer you. You should know the value of your vehicle off hand in order to make a smart decision for this process. 

Questions To Ask When Buying A Car From A Private Party

  • How many owners has the vehicle had?
  • Has the car ever been in an accident to your knowledge? 
  • Is the title clean?
  • Is your name on the title?
  • Is the car paid off or is there a lien on the title?
  • Why are you getting rid of the car?
  • What parts of the vehicle have been replaced?
  • What mechanic do you typically take the car to?
  • Do you have maintenance records?
  • Can you provide the VIN or a carfax report? 
  • Are there any mechanical issues?
  • Ask about features you are interested in
  • Ask about the items on the common issues list you compiled in your research 
  • How much do you want for the car?
  • Have the airbags ever been deployed?
  • Who drives the car and what do they use it for?

Questions to Ask About Any Car

Regardless of what type of car you are purchasing, there are things you should ALWAYS ask about. They are:

  • How many owners has the vehicle had?
  • Has the car ever been in an accident?
  • Has the vehicle passed all of the emissions tests for your state? 
  • What is the mileage? 
  • When were the tires replaced?
  • When were the brakes last replaced?
  • Ask to see the vehicle service history
  • Does the vehicle have any recalls? 
  • Do you have a vehicle history report? If they don’t, ask them to purchase one or purchase one yourself before buying the car. 
  • What type of title does the car have?
  • Does it have a spare tire and emergency kit?
  • Is it a vehicle from a non smoking owner? 
  • Is there a warranty? 

What To Check During A Test Drive

 Be sure to check off all of the items on this list when checking over the vehicle during the test drive:

  1. How the car starts
  2. Air conditioning
  3. Heat
  4. Windshield wipers
  5. All windows and door locks
  6. All signals and lights including 
    1. Brake lights
    2. Turn signals
    3. Emergency lights
    4. Headlights 
    5. Taillights 
    6. Internal lights
    7. Brights and fog lights
  7. Brakes
  8. Stop and go
  9. How the car takes turns
  10. Suspension give
  11. Cruise control
  12. High speed performance (get the car up over 65mph)

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We hope this article has answered all of your questions regarding questions to ask at a dealership, and that you feel more prepared to handle buying a car both now and in the future. Consider protecting your vehicle with an extended warranty plan from Protect My Car. In addition to warranties, Protect My Car also offers insurance and maintenance plans and can negotiate the best prices on repairs with mechanics.

About Protect My Car

Protect My Car is an extended auto warranty company. Our goal here at Protect My Car is to eliminate your worry of being financially responsible for an expensive mechanical breakdown. With our extended auto warranty, you don’t have to worry about being fully burdened with the cost of a covered repair.

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