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Buying a used 4×4 is a great way to save a lot of money. You can find great used 4WD vehicles that are just a few years old, yet have a much, much smaller price tag than when they were new.
Of course, the “danger” of buying a used 4×4 is that you might not know a lot about the vehicle, how it’s been driven, if it has been abused, and so forth. That’s why you need to ask questions before you hand over a check.
In this quick guide, we’ll explore four questions you need to ask when buying a used 4×4.
Has It Been in an Accident?
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Likely the first question you should ask about a used 4WD is if it has been in an accident.
Some accidents – like fender benders – aren’t a huge deal. But if there’s been significant damage (like to the frame), that could present bigger issues.
Granted, if you’re buying a used 4×4 that has been used for off-roading, it’s not going to be pristine. But you also don’t want to buy a junker that you’ll have to put a ton of money into to make it trail-worthy again.
So, ask if the vehicle has been wrecked. Get the Carfax or Autocheck to see what they say about the vehicle’s history. When you look at the vehicle, inspect the bodywork and look for misaligned panels, shoddy paintwork, dents, and other signs that damage has occurred.
If the seller acknowledges that the vehicle has been wrecked, ask what kind of damage there was, who fixed it, and if the parts used to fix the damage were OEM and if there is any warranty on the repair work. Ask for receipts for the work done, too.
You should also ask to take the vehicle to be inspected. It’s one thing for you to walk around the vehicle and look for damage. It’s another thing for a professional to do a deep dive into its condition.
Buying a Used 4×4: Do Any Accessories Come With It?
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If you buy a used 4×4 off a car dealer’s lot, you’ll get what’s with the vehicle. But if you buy from a private party, you might not get the winch that’s still attached to the front bumper.
Be sure you ask about what’s included in the price, and if need be negotiate the price downward as the seller eliminates accessories from the list.
If you can find a used 4WD with things like a winch, a roll bar, a light bar, aftermarket bumpers, upgraded wheels and tires, and so forth, it can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Off-roading accessories can be very expensive when they’re new, and while you’ll pay more for a used 4×4 with accessories, it won’t be nearly as much as it would cost to buy all those accessories yourself.
Just be sure to inspect the condition of any accessories that come with the vehicle when buying a used 4×4. Also test each accessory to ensure it works.
How Many Miles Are on the Vehicle?
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Another important question to ask is how many miles are on the vehicle.
Not only is the number of miles on the vehicle necessary knowledge to have when buying a used 4×4, but the type of miles put on the vehicle is also important.
For example, you might find a high mileage used 4×4 with 145,000 miles on it, but if the miles were primarily on the highway, those are easy miles with few stops and starts, little idling time, and little (if any) off-road miles.
Compare that to a vehicle that’s five years old and only has 20,000 miles on the ticker, but 19,000 of those miles were hard-fought on off-road trails. That vehicle, though it has far fewer miles than the first, might actually be a worse buy given the type of miles it’s run.
Again, it’s important to check the Carfax or Autocheck to determine if the mileage represented is accurate or if there have been odometer issues on the vehicle. If such issues arise, move on to a different option.
Buying a Used 4×4: Is the Price Negotiable?
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When you buy a used 4WD (or any vehicle, for that matter), a primary question to ask is if the price is negotiable.
Even people that have stated in the used car ad that the price is firm will often tell you that there is some wiggle room on the price. Asking the question helps set the stage for negotiation and hopefully saving you some money.
Remember that a price being negotiable doesn’t mean that the seller is open to low-ball offers. If a vehicle is listed for $20,000, offering $12,500 is only going to offend the seller and make the likelihood that they’re willing to work with you on the price much less.
Instead, before making an offer – really, before you ever contact the seller – do some research, find out what a fair price is for the vehicle, and use resources like NADA Guides and Kelly Blue Book to inform the price you offer for the 4×4.
More importantly, though, set a budget and stick to it! In the excitement of buying a new-to-you vehicle, it’s easy to lose your head and spend more than you want. The point of buying used is to save money, and establishing a budget and negotiating on the price with the seller will help you do just that.