Buying a Used Car? Dave Ramsey Says You Should Ask These 6 Questions

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  • Buying a used car could save you money compared to buying a new one.
  • It's important to be confident in a used car purchase and understand the costs involved.

It's important to get the right information before making a car purchase.

If you need a car, whether because you're moving from a city to the suburbs or because your last car just gave out on you, you may be considering buying a used model instead of a new one. Doing so could mean spending a lot less.

But buying a used car could also mean ending up with a vehicle that's not in great shape, or that doesn't serve you well. And the costs of owning it could end up being higher than expected. So before you purchase a used car, financial guru Dave Ramsey highly recommends asking these important questions.

1. Why is this car being sold?

If you're buying a car directly from its owner, as opposed to from a dealership, you shouldn't hesitate to ask why the car is being unloaded. It could be that the owner can no longer afford their auto loan payments. Or, it could be that they're having twins and need to upgrade a smaller car to a minivan. Answers like these shouldn't really raise a red flag. But if the seller hems and haws, it could be that there's a problem with the car they don't want you to know about.

2. How old is the car?

Ramsey says most new cars lose 60% of their value after five years. That's an important number to keep in mind when you're looking at buying a used car. If a vehicle's price seems high relative to its age, don't hesitate to negotiate that number downward -- or to just walk away.

3. How much mileage does the vehicle have?

Some cars can run for 200,000 miles before they start having issues. Others may not perform similarly. Either way, it's important to consider mileage on a vehicle before purchasing it. A car with 90,000 miles is likely to last longer than a car that's been driven 190,000 miles.

4. Is there a warranty?

If you're buying a used car from a dealership, it may come with a limited warranty. And that's something you probably want to have. Even if you're buying a used car directly from its owner, if it's new enough, it may still be under warranty, so it's worth asking.

5. Has the car been in any accidents?

A car that's been in a few minor accidents (think a poorly timed parking spot exit) may be perfectly functional and safe to drive. But be careful when buying a car that's been in a major accident. You never know what lasting damage might ensue. If the car you're looking at has been in a major accident, ask to have a trusted mechanic inspect it before making your purchase.

6. What will my insurance costs look like?

You might assume your auto insurance will be dirt cheap if you're buying a used car. But that may not end up being the case. It's a good idea to contact car insurance companies and get quotes so you know what you're dealing with. The last thing you want is to misjudge your insurance costs and wind up with an expense you can't afford.

Buying a used car could be a great way to get your hands on a vehicle. Just make sure to ask the right questions before moving forward with a purchase.

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