Used car buying - Am I asking too many questions/for too much info?

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Junior Member
Sep 8, 2014

This is Cass. As some of you may know I am looking to buy a used car and have seen a few cars, had a scam presented to me and am still looking.

My first preference is to buy through a private party, I am in the Houston, TX area. I am looking for a commuter car to drive about 600-800 miles a month, mostly highway and within the local neighborhood. I am looking to spend $5000-6000 if possible.

Myself and my partner are both presentable individuals, very respectful, not pushy, educated. Whichever of us goes to view the car, we always give the seller assurance about our sincere interest in their car, and meet in a public space, usually a major retail busy parking lot, close to the seller.

We tell the seller upfront that we will follow all guidelines for a private sale as per the TX DPS website. At the time of sale, we can pay at the bank itself, so there is no question about the authenticity of payment.

We also tend to ask them about the title, and whether it is clear and clean.

We rarely test drive the car on the street, just a quick spin around the parking lot, because neither of us are mechanically gifted to be able to diagnose a car beyond any issues that are evident.

If we like what we see at the viewing of the car, we ask the seller for a pre-purchase inspection, at our cost, by a mechanic convenient to them, and of their approval.

While viewing the car we also tend to ask the seller questions such as when the battery was replaced, which many do not know about, whether there is a spare tire in the trunk, whether all the power locks work, very trivial questions I think.

Oh yes, lol, and we also ask them, but do not demand, if they will be able to share any maintenance records at the time of sale.

It seems like many sellers get discouraged with these questions, which seem pretty straightforward. And some may not want to go through a prepurchase inspection, which we are paying for.

Is it wrong to ask these questions? Is a prepurchase inspection request at our expense considered an unfair request. We only ask for these if we are ready to buy the car barring any issues at the time of inspection.

I know it is a sellers market, especially for a good used car....any advice?

Thank you!


Aug 18, 2012
Depends what you need. I would look at a Honda accord probably 2006-2008 model if that price is available. Or a civic too.

Obviously mileage may be high for 5-6k but you should be able to find something.

When you meet the seller ask all title and car questions on the phone. It really doesn't matter, they should not be weary or discouraging if nothing is wrong with the car. I've bought used cars for other people before and if the person is not shady they should agree for an inspection by a mechanic if they want to sell the car soon.

Stay away from those who are not straight forward or avoid these type of questions...clean title, maintenance, any issues, etc.

When you get in the car power on everything and take a look to see that the lights, radio, doors, Windows, etc all are in working condition. Lift the hood and check the belts and battery. Look to see if there is any acid leaking out of the battery. Look at the brake pads and tires. They should have decent tread on them.

While on a test drive try and get the car up to at least 40-50mph on a public road if possible and listen for any strange noises.


No Lifer
Jul 3, 2003
None of those questions or requests are unreasonable. I would also ask how long the person has owned the car. Not sure why the battery question though, they either work or they don't and they are pretty cheap to replace when they go bad.

I would be wary of flood damaged cars in that area.


Diamond Member
Jul 11, 2006
In some deals I've been involved, inspection is done as the last part of the deal, when final price has been settled. Seller's view is that it is hassle unless buyer is serious to buy that car.


Golden Member
Nov 7, 2013
ask ask ask. Shine a light at them if you have to. j/k There is no reason not to ask a lot of question. If they don't reveal anything then they are hiding something from you. Again nothing wrong with asking a lot of question. Its your money and you are the buyer.
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