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Questions to Expect from Someone Buying Your Used Car

You’ve put together a great ad about the used car you have for sale and now you’re ready to field calls and emails from interested buyers. It’s important that you prepare yourself for the questions that they might ask. You want to be able to provide them with as much information as possible to entice the buyer to come see the car.

Here are some questions you can expect to be asked either on the phone, or in person:

Why are you selling the car?

The buyer will want to know if there’s an issue with the car as perhaps this is the reason you’re selling. Let them know what’s influencing your decision – maybe you need a bigger (or smaller) vehicle to suit your lifestyle or better gas mileage to commute to a new job. If you are trying to offload it because of a mechanical or cosmetic problem, you might as well reveal this now because they’ll find out eventually.

How long have you owned the car?

By asking this question, the buyer is hoping to get information on the car’s background. Have as much detail ready as possible, including receipts or documents for maintenance, etc.

Who did you buy the vehicle from? Where did you buy it from?

Did you purchase the car from a dealership, a private seller or was it passed down from a friend or family member? The buyer will also want to know if you’re the original owner or if you have any information on the previous owners.

What’s the condition of the car?

If you’re communicating over the phone, this question will help the buyer decide whether it’s worth the trip out to visit the car. If there are any physical flaws, be honest with them and try and describe how worn out or how pristine the condition of the vehicle really is. If you mislead the buyer, you’ll just waste your time and their time when they come to see it.

Can you describe the vehicle’s appearance or features?

Have a list of all the features that the vehicle is equipped with. Writing them down ahead of time will prevent you from forgetting anything when you’re put on the spot.

How much mileage is on the car?

This one’s pretty straightforward – again, give the caller an accurate reading down to the kilometer.

Can I see the VIN number, the vehicle ownership and your identification?

The buyer will want to see this information to confirm that you are in fact the legal owner and to double check that the registration information matches with the car’s VIN number. When you show them the CARFAX Canada Report, they will want to verify this information with the report as well.

Do you have a Used Vehicle Information Package? (Ontario only)

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation requires that every privately sold vehicle (there are certain exceptions in regards to family, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website for more information) be accompanied with a Used Vehicle Information Package. This contains information about the vehicle as well as details and paperwork to finalize the sale.

While this is only an Ontario requirement, it’s always best to check with your provincial licensing office to make sure you have all your bases covered. Some provinces may require a safety inspection or emissions testing which either you or the buyer will need to do before registering the vehicle.

Has the car been in any accidents?

If the vehicle has been involved in a run-in, then you need to let the buyer know. This is your chance to disclose how minor or how major the accident was, whether the car was repaired and if there are any lingering issues as a result of the incident. For many buyers, as long as the vehicle was repaired properly, past incidents are not deal-breakers.

Has anything on the car been replaced or updated?

If you put new tires on the car last year, let the buyer know. It will add more value to the vehicle because that’s one less thing they’ll need to do. If you have receipts for any added features or new parts, show them to the buyer to verify the updates.

Are there any mechanical problems I need to know about?

Share with the buyer any quirks or problems that could come up down the road. They’ll appreciate the honesty.

How long of a test drive can I take?

The potential buyer will want to get a real feel for vehicle so expect that the test drive will take up to 30 minutes. Go along for the ride so you can keep a watchful eye on the vehicle and answer any questions along the way.

Can I take the car for an independent inspection?

Be prepared to allow the buyer to take the car for a pre-purchase inspection (at the buyer’s expense) before you close the sale. The buyer will want to know if there are any issues under the hood that will cost them money down the road.

Can we fix this problem before purchase?

If the car does have a mechanical or a cosmetic problem, the buyer may ask you to fix it before buying. You’ll want to weigh out the pros and cons of doing this – is it an expensive fix that you can’t afford to cover? If you don’t agree to this and end up losing the sale as a result, do you think you’ll run into this same scenario with other buyers? Can you reduce the price to account for the issue and pass on the cost of fixing it to the buyer? You’ll want to negotiate a deal that works for both you and the buyer.

Tips for receiving phone calls about your used car:

  • Be friendly and courteous on the phone. Don’t act as if the caller is bothering you by calling – they are simply looking for more information about the vehicle you’re trying to sell.
  • Leave details about the vehicle with other household members. If someone calls about the car and you aren’t home, that person can pass on information and set-up a time for you to call the buyer back.
  • Communicate by email if it works better for the buyer. If your buyer is car shopping and comparing a few different cars, they may prefer to have the information about your car in an email so they can quickly review the highlights.
  • Return phone calls about your vehicle quickly. Don’t make the buyer wait days before getting back to them. By that time, they may have already forgotten about your car.