Buying a classic car or pickup truck can help you reconnect with your past and make new memories in the future. But you want to be a savvy buyer so that you don’t make an emotional purchase and buy a classic lemon. So, whether you’re looking for a daily driver or a project car, ask the seller a few questions before you make an offer. Reputable sellers will be happy to answer these questions.
1. What type of car are you selling?
Collector cars come in various shapes, sizes, colours, and conditions. These small but important details can turn your dream car into a dud. That’s why you want to ensure the car you see advertised is the exact year, model and style you want. Ask the seller to share pictures that prove the car’s year, make, model, engine size, and current mileage.
You can also ask for additional pictures of the exterior, interior, engine, undercarriage, tires, and trunk. Carefully review the photos to verify the car’s condition, especially before you drive several hours for a test drive.
2. Is the car legal to drive right now?
Even if you want a project car, it pays to find out if the car is currently registered, insured and inspected. Ask if the car is in good enough condition for a test drive, too.
3. Do you have a clean title?
A clean title means the seller owns the vehicle outright. This detail can prevent you from being involved in a scam where an individual tries to sell you a car they do not own. Also, you’ll save money since you won’t have to research ownership history or obtain a new title.
4. How would you describe the car’s current condition?
All vehicles, including classic cars, have dozens of working parts. Find out if all those parts work properly or if the car needs repairs. The condition helps you make a fair offer and know exactly what you’re getting. Here are some condition details you can ask about.
- What warning lights are currently lit?
- Does the car start easily, accelerate normally and idle smoothly?
- What odd noises or vibrations does the car make?
- How are the suspension, steering and brakes?
- In what condition is the transmission?
- Does the vehicle leak anywhere?
- When were the fluids last changed?
- In what condition are the tires?
- Is rust present on the frame, body, floor, trunk, exhaust, or rockers?
- What style and condition is the interior?
- What are the vehicle’s paint history and current paint condition?
- Does the car have any body work history or current dents, dings or scratches?
- What does the car need to pass inspection?
5. What is the car’s accident and repair history?
Accidents change a car’s appearance and can affect its mechanical performance. Before buying a classic car, ask the seller to describe all the vehicle’s accidents and repairs.
You can also use the 17-character VIN, a unique number for each car, to request an updated vehicle history report from CARFAX. This report details the vehicle’s previous owners, insurance reports, accidents, repairs, and more.
6. Where are the maintenance records?
Understand whether the car’s previous owners took care of or neglected the vehicle over the years. Maintenance records also help you determine the car’s condition and any potential problems you’ll need to fix.
7. Can I get a current mechanical inspection?
Most reputable sellers will allow you to schedule an independent mechanical inspection. Choose a reputable and experienced mechanic who specialises in collector cars, specifically the model you want to buy. Then, you gain insight into the vehicle’s condition and value.
8. Who are you?
Get to know the seller. You gain solid footing for price negotiations when you’re friendly. Plus, you don’t want to get scammed.
In addition to the seller’s contact information and preferred contact method, find out how long they’ve owned the vehicle and why they’re selling it.
Ask about the seller’s availability for a test drive, too. Discover how the car runs and handles before you buy it.
Protect your dream of owning classic cars when you ask the seller essential questions. Use the answers to gain valuable information that simplifies the process of buying a classic car and protects your investment.