Top 9 Questions Potential Car Buyers Should Ask Dealers

Purchasing a new vehicle can be an anxious process. With such a serious investment, buyers have to make sure that they’re not only getting a good deal but that they’re making the deal that’s right for them.

With that in mind, here are nine of the top questions most car buyers should ask before they sign a contract.

  1. Are there any additional fees I should know about before I buy?

Although this ideally would be one of the last questions a person would ask, it’s also arguably the most important. Dealers generally negotiate the price of the car itself. Additional fees, such as sales tax, documentation charges, and other hidden fees can ramp up the final price significantly. Buyers should look to clarify what they will be paying, and why.

2. What is the car equipped with, and are there any aftermarket parts or add-ons?

Buyers should ask about the car’s most notable features, even those that may not be advertised. While one driver may value cruise control, another may be particular about a sunroof or even cup holders.

Keep in mind that dealers will often add features such as tinted windows or mud flaps in order to boost the price so buyers should consider if these additions are worth the extra money.

3. What’s the mileage on the car?

Obviously, a brand new car should have very low mileage on it. If it doesn’t, it’s likely because it has been used frequently in test drives or driven from another dealership as part of a trade. Buyers can use this to their advantage in price negotiations.

Used cars will, of course, have higher mileage. However, buyers should not make the assumption that less mileage means the car is in better shape as a whole.

4. Is everything in working condition?

Potential buyers should check to make sure that all of the car’s components, including lights, locks, windows, windshield wipers, turn signals, and heating system are in working order. The car should also be checked for leaks or chipped glass, and to see if the catalytic converter and exhaust system are intact.

5. Has the car been damaged or in an accident of any sort?

If the car is used, buyers should inquire if it’s been in any major accidents or crashes. If so, the extent of the damage and cost of the repair need be clarified.

It’s also possible that new cars may have been damaged during transport to the dealership.

6. Is this the original paint-job?

When it comes to used vehicles, a repainted car can indicate significant wear and tear or even underlying damages that should be factored into negotiations.

7. What does the CarFax look like?

Not all buyers are knowledgeable about automobiles, which only increases the anxiety that they are being duped into making a bad or unadvised purchase. A CarFax report can help settle fears for those looking to buy used.

8. Can I take it for a test run?

Regardless of what a dealer says, a buyer may never truly be sure of a purchase until they are sitting behind the wheel themselves. They may find out a major problem that went undiscovered beforehand. Or they may fall in love at first drive.

This is particularly important when buying used vehicles. If the dealer is resistant, this may be a major red flag that things aren’t what they appear to be.

9. Is that the best offer you can make?

Ultimately, the buyer has to decide if the final price is worth it or not. This question lets a dealer know that they may lose a sale if they’re unwilling to budge.

Of course, sometimes a buyer has to know when to walk away as well. If a deal just doesn’t feel right, know that there are other options available.

This article was originally published on Rob’s website — also follow Robert A. Butler on Twitter at

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