Reminding the guy trying to sell you your next ride that “we’re definitely going to take this for an inspection at the mechanic’s” or “of course, I’ll have to check the VIN on CarVertical first” can scare off any huckster trying to sell you a lemon. Sure. But some questions might scare off honest sellers as well. There are good questions to ask, and then there are some you’re better off keeping to yourself. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!
1. Can I spend the night in this car?
Believe us, it won’t help if you also add that you’ve got a sleeping bag. And some plastic wrap to lay under your seat. No, it won’t help if you promise not to boil soup on an electric USB stovetop. Most people don’t want the interior of the car they’re trying to sell to spend the night absorbing some weird stranger’s farts. But maybe – just maybe – if you play your cards right, the owner will agree to spend the night in there with you.
2. It’s suspiciously clean. Sure you didn’t kill someone in here?
At first glance, this question’s like a check-mate – what better way to find out about the vehicle’s dark history than to suggest that the seller chops up hitchhikers for fun? However, if the car’s undergone a chemical cleaning, it’s most likely because the owner was ashamed of the grease stains from all those Big Macs they ate.
3. This model is a gas guzzler, so I need a sweeter deal.
This is a terrible insult to the owner. Sure they can cut you a deal for the dent you found or a spot of rust, but not for the fuel economy, be it an 8-liter, 256-cylinder contraption. Nobody wants to have any sort of business with penny pinchers, not in the least someone who’s selling something. Never forget that.
4. Is this your dandruff on the headrest?
Don’t forget to add that the seller should trim their impressive ear and nose hair. This will help create an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust that is bound to reduce the price by 3-5 percent.
5. Why’s it so cheap? Is it haunted?
It’s a logical question, as these things do happen from time to time – some cars become inhabited by the spirits of people who’ve died in accidents long ago. That’s just the way it is. But how is the ghost supposed to feel when you say something so mean-spirited? Devaluing a car just because some poor ghost is haunting it? Talk about kicking someone when they’re down. Jerk.
6. How much do you think I could sell it for tomorrow?
EXCUSE ME!? YOU INTEND TO RESELL SOMETHING THAT HAS GROWN TO BECOME A BELOVED MEMBER OF OUR FAMILY, SOMETHING WE HAVE NAMED? HOW DARE YOU?
7. I need to let my dog into the cabin to see if his fur sticks everywhere
Actually, this one might actually work as long as you follow it up with: “Here are 150 Euros for the cleanup.”
8. So what’s the secret? What’s wrong with it?
“So there’s a crack here in the turn signal where some idiot hit it with his door, and you’ll need to change the cabin air filter in autumn,” – that’s the most you can expect. Do you seriously expect the seller to tell you how he welded the car together from three different totaled wrecks?