How To Purchase a Used Car From a Private Seller

by Contributor

When you buy a used car from a private party (an individual) as opposed to a dealer, there are things that you should do to protect yourself. It can be a lot cheaper if you buy from an individual because he will have to sell it at a cheaper price than a dealer. But you may not have as much recourse against a private seller as you would with a dealer if the deal does not result in a way that is satisfactory to you.


When you see a vehicle that interests you, immediately call the seller to verify information about the vehicle. You should ask about the year, make, model, mileage, transmission (whether it's an automatic or manual), and condition of the car. When everything checks out, ask for the vehicle's VIN number and set up an appointment.


Buying a used car involves common sense! If the seller insists on an appointment at night, you KNOW something is not right.


Buying a used car involves verification of the car's past history. Use the vehicle's VIN number to check the history of the car on Carfax. Carfax has the car's history. If it comes up clean, great; but some sellers are trying to trick innocent buyers into paying big bucks for salvage cars, and Carfax can help protect you from them.


Check the retail price of the car you intend to buy online. Several websites can help you do this -- find some in the References section. This gives you a ballpark idea of what you would expect to pay for the used car.


Now, you have an idea of what the vehicle is worth, it makes it easier for you to haggle. Be on time for the appointment and, if possible, bring somebody you trust who knows a lot about cars. In the alternative, ask the owner if you can have an independent mechanic take a look at it. You should be willing to pay the cost of this -- however, if the owner is reluctant to let you do it, you should walk away from the deal.

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