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Questions to ask when buying a used car

Knowing which questions to ask when buying a used car will give you the information you need to ensure you are making a safe purchase. Whether you are buying from a private owner or one of our Approved Dealers, if you are unsure of the process it can be an intimidating task. Our guide below lists the questions you need to ask so you can search for second hand cars with confidence.

What questions to ask when buying a car

General Used Car Questions

Whether you are buying from a car dealership or private owner, these questions should always be asked.

  • Can I see the car’s service history?

    Not all older cars will have it, but if the owner does have it then it is advisable to ask for the service book complete with dealer stamps. If a service book is not provided then ask to see receipts for any work that has been carried out on the car.

  • Can I see the car’s MOT certificates?

    If the vehicle you are considering is over three years old it is a legal requirement for that car to have an MOT.

  • Can I see the car's mileage?

    Always ask to view the car’s V5C to check whether the mileage has increased at normal rate.

Questions to ask Car Dealers

RAC Approved Dealers share our ethos for quality and exceptional customer service and will be happy to answer your questions.

  • Can I take the car for a test drive?

    Even though everything may be in order it is advisable to test-drive the vehicle to check whether you are fully satisfied with it.

  • Is anything extra included in the price?

    It’s worth asking whether the car’s MOT and road tax is up to date before going through with the purchase.

  • Is there a warranty? If so, what does it cover?

    Buying from a dealer gives legal protection under the Sale of Goods Act. If you intend to buy a warranty, make sure you understand the full terms.

Questions to ask private owners

There are a number of ways to buy a car privately, be it online or through a newspaper advert, but you won't be protected by the Sale of Goods Act. However, there are a number of questions you can ask to ensure a safe purchase.

  • Can I see proof of identity and ownership?

    Check whether the car at the seller’s home address matches the one on the V5C document.

  • Can I inspect the car?

    Always perform internal and external checks on the vehicle. You should check everything from the paint work and tyres to the car’s upholstery and electronics. If you’re not comfortable checking the car yourself, you can use the RAC’s vehicle inspection service to give you added security when buying a used car from a private seller.

  • Can I inspect the car’s paper work?

    Always ask for the original V5C document; do not accept copies. This will allow you to check whether the VIN matches the V5C. Original MOT certificates will help you to establish whether the car has recurring issues.

  • Can I test-drive the Car?

    This is particularly important when buying from a private dealer. A test drive will give you the opportunity to check every aspect of the car and ensure you are entirely satisfied with the vehicle.