When shopping for pre-owned vehicles, there can be a lot of mystery surrounding the vehicle you’re considering. There are issues like its maintenance schedule, accident history, warranty status, and more. You want to know about all these variables before committing to buying a pre-owned vehicle.
Below, we’ll outline eight important questions to as when buying a used vehicle to ensure you have all the information you need to make an educated car-buying decision.
One critical question to ask when buying a used car is whether or not it has a warranty from the used car dealer you’re buying from. Most pre-owned vehicles should come with at least a 30-day warranty.
If it’s a newer pre-owned vehicle — 5 years old or newer — it may also have the balance of the manufacturer’s warranty still on it. So, you’ll want to check with the owner or dealership to see if this is transferable and how much warranty remains.
At Clutch, every vehicle we sell comes with a 90-day or 6,000-km warranty. This is on top of any manufacturer’s warranty that remains.
Many owners meticulously maintain their vehicles — oil changes right at the manufacturer’s recommendation, on-time transmission flushes, and more — and they may also keep all the records of its service history. A full and complete maintenance history shows you the vehicle has been cared for.
If you’re buying from a pre-owned car dealership, they should keep any records the original owner included with the vehicle, such as these service records. If not, the very least you can do is verify what maintenance the dealership did before putting it up for sale.
At Clutch performing all regular service and maintenance is part of our 210-point inspection and reconditioning process.
This is an important question that will bring up other questions if the answer is “Yes.” If so, you’ll want to know when it happened, what was damaged, and if they had it professionally repaired.
You can also get the vehicle identification number (VIN) and pull a Carfax vehicle history report. This will give you its accident history, but only those reported to an insurance company. Minor fender benders that were not repaired or the owner paid by cash are not listed. This vehicle report will also include all the previous owners and odometer readings.
You can also pull this report on your own without ever seeing the vehicle. Simply ask for the car’s VIN and run it through the Carfax website.
At Clutch, all our vehicles include a Carfax report and have been through a 210-point inspection that includes verifying all accident repairs were done properly and safely.
Before buying a used vehicle, it’s a great idea to have a mechanic’s inspection before agreeing to buy it. Ask the owner or car dealership if it’s OK to take the vehicle to a third-party repair facility for an inspection at your expense. This should not be an issue, though some dealerships may be wary of it.
If the dealership refuses your request, ask about any return policy or cooling-off period where you’d be permitted to bring the vehicle back and cancel the deal if you find any mechanical problems.
If a private seller denies your request, this could be a red flag that there’s something about the vehicle they’re not telling you.
At Clutch, all our vehicles come with a 10-day or 750-km test-own period. If you don’t love your new car during this period for any reason, you have the peace of mind that you can return it for a full refund or exchange it for another Clutch vehicle.
This may seem like a no-brainer but many cars these days don’t include a spare tire, and your want to know this before buying it. This is not a deal-breaker, but it’s some much-needed information.
Also, some cars do include a spare tire, but a previous owner lost or damaged it. If this is the case, you may be able to use this as a negotiation point to lower the vehicle’s price.
During our 210-point we verify the spare tire is included — if it was included when the vehicle was new — and in good condition.
If the vehicle is fully paid off, the owner should have the car’s title in hand. If not, they will need to secure one before you purchase the vehicle. If they lack the title because the vehicle is financed, there will be extra steps to consider when buying the vehicle.
At Clutch, all our vehicles include the title. If you pay cash, you will receive the vehicle’s title. If its financed, the lender will hold the title until you repay the loan.
You want to verify the functionality of all the vehicle’s key features, and a quick way to find out is to ask the owner. An honest seller will inform you what features don’t work and what do work. If they insist everything is functional, you still want to try as many as you can before agreeing to purchase the vehicle.
At Clutch, our inspection process includes verifying all the key features work as intended. And if they don’t, our 90-day or 6,000-km warranty may cover them, or you can exchange the vehicle as part of our 10-day test-own period.
If you are buying a pre-owned car to replace your current car, you may want to trade it in to save the headache of a private sale. Of course, a private seller is likely not looking for a trade, but you’ll want to verify with the dealership that it accepts trade-in vehicles.
If so, ask to have your vehicle appraised before starting your car shopping so you know where you stand.
At Clutch, we accept trade-in vehicles, and you can get a firm trade-in offer on your current car easily online. Simply enter some information about your vehicle, and our team will come back with a firm trade-in offer. And if you decide not to buy from Clutch, you can still sell your vehicle to us using the same amount we offered as a trade.
Knowing the right questions to ask when buying a used car can help ensure you get a quality vehicle. At Clutch, Canada’s first online pre-owned auto retailer, most of your questions are answered before you even ask them thanks to our 210-point vehicle inspection, trade-in valuation tool, 90-day 6,000-km warranty, and more.
What’s more, if for any reason you aren’t satisfied with your pre-owned vehicle from Clutch within the first 10 days or 750 km, whichever comes first, you can return the vehicle for a refund or exchange it. For even more peace of mind, we also offer an extended warranty for up to eight years,
Finally, Clutch handles all its pre-owned vehicle sales online, so there’s no need to step foot in a car dealership. We’ll even deliver your new vehicle and pick up your trade-in vehicle, if applicable.