Buying a car from a private party can be a great way to save some money. Millions of people buy and sell their cars privately every year, and 98% of the time the transaction is honest and forthright. Nonetheless, it’s imperative that you that you follow these tips so that you don’t get taken advantage of.
1) Be Suspicious: We’ve heard unbelievable stories about people getting taken advantage of by private sellers. People will lie about how they got the car, who owned the car, why they’re selling, etc. Don’t always believe what the seller tells you: take everything with a grain of salt.
2) Take your time: If the person trying to sell you a car is a con artist, they’ll want to consummate the sale as quickly as possible. If they’re trying to “pull a fast one”, they’ll offer you anything to get you to buy immediately.
3) Ask a lot of questions: If a person is trying to sell a car that doesn’t belong to them, they’re going to have a hard time answering questions like “when did you buy your car,” or “has it ever been in an accident,” etc. It’s also smart to ask lots of questions because you’ll be surprised what the seller will volunteer. Just make sure that you listen to the answers carefully.
4) Get the car inspected before you buy: There’s absolutely no reason why a legitimate private seller wouldn’t let you take their car to a mechanic to have it looked at. If the seller is trying to hide something from you (like a bad transmission, flood damage, etc.) they won’t let you get the car inspected. If you can’t get the car inspected, don’t buy it.
5) Compare the seller’s ID to the title and registration: Before you buy from a private party, it’s important to compare their ID to the car’s title and registration. Everything should match, but if it doesn’t, you should tell the seller you need to meet the actual owner (the person on the title and registration). If you can’t meet the actual owner, you might consider walking away. If you buy a car from a person whose name isn’t on the title, you could be buying a stolen vehicle.
6) Ask for emissions test records, inspection records, etc.: You will need these records to register the car after you’ve bought it.
7) Complete a Bill of Sale: A Bill Of Sale is a good idea – it will help protect you from any future problems (in case the sale was illegitimate), it’s a good record to have, and it may be necessary for insurance, registration, etc.
As always, take your time when buying a used car. Do your used car research, get multiple used car financing quotes, and feel free to contact us with your questions.