used car

20 questions to ask someone selling a used car


We were in a conversation with a client who had just purchased a used vehicle, after we had helped them secure finance. They said, ‘It’s just so hard buying a used car!’ She then elaborated, ‘how are you supposed to know what questions to ask, to make sure you’re not getting ripped off?’ There was a hint of humour but also some desperation in her voice.

So, let’s make this as simple as possible, 20 questions to ask someone selling a used car.

What’s the fastest way to learn about a car? By asking questions, lots of questions! Ask your friend at work, ask your uncle the mechanic, ask the car salesman who’s trying to sell you a car! And don’t forget about Google.

However, sometimes the best thing you can do is show up, ask the seller your questions, and then be quiet and let them talk.

What kind of questions? Hey, great question!

Here are the 20 questions to ask someone selling a used car, broken down into easy to follow topics.

Get to know the seller and their opinion of the car

Don’t forget the person selling the car is a human, so asking questions based on getting to know them and the car is a great place to start.

1. Why are they selling?
2. Did they enjoy the car while they had it?
3. What is the seller’s opinion of the car’s condition?


Once getting to know the seller’s thoughts on the car it is wise to begin digging a little bit deeper into the car’s ownership over the years.

4. How long has the seller owned the car?
5. Does the seller own the car outright?
6. Is the owner authorised to sell it?
This question can seem like an obvious one, but it will help you gauge the honesty of the seller, and if the answer doesn’t seem right, it may be time to move on.

7. Has the seller owned the car from new?
8. Who owned the car before?

Car specs

You want to find out some key specifications of the car. Some of the questions can be guided by the car’s advertisement, but here’s some key questions to ask.

9. When was the car first registered?
10. How much registration does it have?
11. What is the odometer reading?
12. What does the interior of the car look like?
Don’t forget to jump in the car and have a look for yourself! Some questions can be answered through your investigatory skills.
13. Is there a vehicle history report available?

Also known as Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), doing a car search on the PPSR can help you check if the car you’re buying is recorded as debt free, stolen or written off.

14. Can I look at the service history of the car?

The service logbook should be in comprehensive and thorough order.

Damage or issues

We know looks aren’t everything, but they still count for something! You want to find out about visible damage but also any incidents the car has been involved in, and repairs it’s undergone.

15. Does the car have a current roadworthy certificate (RWC)?
16. Has it been in a crash?

17. If so, which parts were damaged?
18. Where was it repaired?
19. Are the repairs guaranteed?

20. Can I take the car to my mechanic for an independent inspection?
This final question is an important one. Before any thought of a money exchange occurs, getting an independent inspection is imperative. If a seller refuses this it doesn’t bode well for them, and it could be they are trying to hide something from you.

The best way to learning about the car is by asking the owner directly. In our experience the seller will be ready to field your questions, they will expect it. In some cases you may not get an entirely honest reply. The best way to arm yourself in this situation is to be very familiar with the car in the ad, examining the images and getting to know the specs.

Asking a friend who knows about cars to tag along is also a great way to build your confidence in the process.

We know this can be a daunting process, but we firmly believe if you feel confident by preparing well and knowing the right questions to ask it really can be an exciting and fulfilling experience.

If you need advice or finance to purchase a used car, contact us. We pride ourselves on simplifying the process and giving exceptional service.