Buying a car is expensive. It’s one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy, in fact.
It’s no wonder that people prefer to buy used sometimes. You save some money. You still get a decent ride. Win-win, right?
Maybe not. Most people know how to buy a used car from a dealer, even how to buy a used car from a dealer in cash. You can get an even better deal if you buy from a private seller. But, how do you buy a used car from a private party? How can you tell you won’t be ripped off?
Here we tell you how to buy a used car from a private party without being swindled or ending up with a lemon.
The Pros of Learning How to Buy A Used Car From a Private Owner
While it is certainly easier to go to the dealer, there are a lot of upsides to buying from a private party.
The biggest incentive is the price. You’re going to save a ton of money going through the owner instead of the dealer. Why? Because you’ve cut out the middle man.
When you go to a dealer there are a ton of hidden costs in the sticker price of a used car. There’s the dealerships fee, any labor they put into the car to get it into tip-top shape for the showroom, commission for the salesman, the list goes on and on.
When you’re dealing with a private seller, you’ll be able to buy the car for simply what the car is worth according to its fair resale value.
You Create a Level Playing Field When You Learn How to Buy a Used Car From a Private Party
Just as we mentioned all those additional fees at the dealership, you’re also dealing with a used car salesman. These people know how to sell you anything. They also know all the right things to say to upsell you and get themselves a bigger paycheck.
When you deal directly with the owner, you aren’t meeting with someone who has sold thousands of vehicles. They won’t be able to sell you as a salesman could. But, you also run the risk of buying from a con man.
The Disadvantage: The Swindler and The Lemon
If you’re hard up for cash and searching for “how to sell my junk car” isn’t working out as well as you’d hoped you could be tempted to turn to the dark side for some cold hard cash.
Maybe you go take your junker that’s on its last legs into the body shop for a quick paint job by your buddy so you can pass it off as a decent vehicle. Then you can sell it as a private owner to an innocent person just looking for a good deal.
This is what they call being swindled. Being presented with something you think is one thing when really it’s not that at all.
This is why lemon laws were created. They exist to protect people who have been swindled from being out their cash. But, it is harder to file a claim against a private party. Why? You don’t always have their information. The purchase doesn’t come complete with the 100-page contract the dealer makes you sign.
You might not be able to track them down after.
Avoid Being Swindled By Doing Your Due Diligence
Before you go on the hunt for your next ride do some research and due diligence. Contact some local mechanics and ask if they would be willing to come with you to meet prospective sellers and check out their vehicles.
Some will do this for only a minor fee and a handshake if you promise to bring the car to their shop for necessary maintenance.
When you contact the seller get as much information about them and the vehicle as you can. Make sure to ask for all their information and ask for a copy of their driver’s license and the car’s registration papers. Ask them to produce the original title for the vehicle as well.
Do some research about the person selling and the vehicle before any money exchanges hands.
The Deal Shouldn’t Seem…Shady
If the private seller is on the up and up there shouldn’t be anything that feels shady about the arrangement. They shouldn’t be concerned about you bringing a mechanic along or asking for all their information.
Are you getting pushback? Are they trying to make you meet them somewhere the car isn’t with a promise to take you to the car later? Is the deal you’re getting too good to be true?
These are all classic signs of a scam. Someone who is legitimate will be happy to comply with requests for information and be able to provide all info about the car.
The Internet is Really, Really Great
Once you have the VIN number of the car and the registration information go online and run a vehicle history report. This will show the entire history of the vehicle.
It will show any accidents the car has had, the previous owners and their names, and any other pertinent repair information. Make sure you match up the proposed seller’s information with this report. The last thing you want is a stolen car on your hands.
Use Common Sense and Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Whenever you’re dealing with buying and selling people seem to clam up. Remember, this is a business transaction. Act professional. Expect professionalism in return.
Don’t be afraid to ask for all the information and make sure you’re getting the deal you think you’re getting. Learning how to buy a used car from a private party all comes down to your ability to put in the effort and research.
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