When it comes time to add a car (or a second or third) to your family, many folks wisely decide to buy a used car. After researching, reading, and deciding which car will be best for your family, it’s time to start the hunt for a car that matches your criteria and is in your price range.
For many car buyers, buying from private owners on Craigslist, Auto Trader, Facebook Marketplace, and even eBay can be the more economical seeming choice–and it’s true that you can get some great deals this way! By buying directly from a private seller, you skip the fees and costs involved with a dealer and salesperson. You also have the advantage of getting a very detailed history of the car…assuming the seller is honest.
But what if they’re not? This is the downside to purchasing a privately owned car. A dealership will normally have warranties on their certified pre-owned vehicles, while a private seller may not be providing you with the full history of their vehicle.
Many families still find it worth it to buy from a private seller. Here are some tips to help you have a successful search and purchase of a privately owned used car.
Do some research on the make, model, and year of the car you are interested in to find out if it’s a good deal. A site like Kelly Blue Book can assist in this, along with comparing some prices online of similar cars. If you’ll educate yourself beforehand, you’ll be much more confident when making your decision.
Ask Questions Before Meeting
One of the harder parts of buying a privately owned car can be choosing to meet the seller and trusting that they are legitimate in their sale. You may also choose to meet up with a seller and discover that their descriptions and pictures of the car didn’t present a complete picture.
Much of this trouble can be solved by asking detailed questions before ever agreeing to meet a seller. Asking about the car’s maintenance, service history (and records), accidents, features that aren’t working properly, ownership history, reason for selling, and their reasoning behind arriving at the price are all valid questions to ask. You can also confirm that they have the title in hand, and that they will allow you to take it to a trusted mechanic to be checked out.
Choosing a Meeting Place
Pick a public place, not one of your homes, for a meeting place to see the car. A police or fire station is always a safe place to meet, and other high traffic areas are fine too, like a gas station. If it’s ok with your mechanic, you could go ahead and meet there so it can be looked over if you decide to continue pursuing the purchase.
Be careful in carrying around the funds needed for the purchase of the car. A cashier’s check or money order is a safer way to pay than cash if it’s a large amount.
The Test Drive
While going on a test drive, pay careful attention to the braking, suspension (by driving over bumps), the heating and air conditioning, and the acceleration. Don’t let the seller distract you too much with conversation. While it may be harmless, you need to make sure and notice any warning signs the car may be giving.
Confirm that the seller’s name is on all paperwork like the registration and certificate of title. Obtain a CarFax report and any service records that the seller has.
Following these simple steps will help you along the way to a successful purchase of a used car from a private owner. Should you ever need to store a car while preparing to sell it, or while traveling, give Self Assured Storage a call! Our climate-controlled, weather-proof car storage units are an affordable way to keep your car in great shape while needed!