BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — According to one source, Louisiana has just over 200 used car dealers.
So, locals interested in purchasing a used car seem to have plenty of options.
But when it comes to knowing how to be a savvy consumer, the road map may be a bit trickier to follow.
Experts warn that customers can be duped by a number of scams. These include dealers who hide the history of a vehicle that’s been salvaged or sneak useless add-ons into lease agreements to fool customers into paying more than they bargained for.
So, what kinds of questions does a knowledgeable consumer ask before purchasing a used car?
#1 What is the vehicle’s mileage, and what repairs need to be made?
The more mileage an automobile has, the more likely it is to be in need of repairs. Experian advises, “Some problems aren’t deal-breakers, but it’s still a good idea to know what repairs you’ll need to make before you start driving regularly. You may even ask the seller if they’re willing to cover those repairs before the sale is complete.”
#2 Has the car/truck been in any crashes or flooding incidents?
This question is key as damage to the vehicle’s frame may impact its functionality or the status of its title. Experian suggests, “In addition to asking the seller about this, it’s also a good idea to get the vehicle’s history report from Carfax or AutoCheck.”
When it comes to flooding, if the answer to this question is that the vehicle has been flooded and the resulting issues have not been addressed, this may be a deal breaker. When a vehicle takes on water, this often results in problems with its electrical system as well as the generation of mold and rust, which can be hazardous.
#3 Can my mechanic inspect the automobile before I purchase it?
If the seller’s answer to this question is no, experts say they may be trying to hide something about the vehicle’s condition.
According to Shift, “While trustworthy sellers won’t hesitate to make this accommodation, those who do may not want you to know the vehicle’s actual status under the hood.”
#4 May I take the vehicle for a test drive?
Taking the automobile out for a spin will reveal how it handles and likely highlight any problems the seller failed to mention. Additionally, if the seller doesn’t want you to test drive the vehicle, this may be a red flag that they’re trying to sell you a vehicle with severe issues.
#5 Is the car returnable within a certain period of time or miles?
According to Experian, “Some dealerships—or even the lenders they work with—have a buyer’s remorse clause in the contract, allowing you to return the vehicle if you’ve changed your mind. If that’s the case, make sure you know the terms. Private sellers typically don’t offer this, but it could still be worth it to ask.”
Many experts say that it’s essential to ask as many questions as possible to obtain a detailed history of the vehicle before agreeing to purchase it. After all, it would be a mistake to invest hundreds into an automobile that costs thousands more in unexpected repairs.
Experian also recommends making sure you’re financially set to make a purchase before looking for a used car.
To accomplish this, it may be beneficial to check your credit score and credit report. If you see that it needs to be improved, then it’s probably in your best interest to make those improvements before purchasing a used car. This way, you’ll likely pay a lower interest rate and monthly payment.
Hopefully, the suggestions above will be helpful as you make decision regarding the purchase of a used vehicle.