Rather than haggle over price with a dealer, some car shoppers opt for buying a private used car, this coming from a private seller. Though purchasing used cars for sale by owner can be a good deal, buyers should still follow a few simple rules before making a deal.
Ask the same questions of a private owner as you would a dealer. You want to see the car start and run.
Suggest a ride around the block.
Look for leaks and listen for knocks and rattles.
Avoid cars that have been parked for a long time. Batteries, belts, hoses, tires and fluids deteriorate after months of disuse.
Some people selling a car privately have already tried to trade the car for a newer one, but were not offered enough on the trade. Never offer a private seller more than trade-in value for the vehicle. You can get an idea of trade-in values on-line through Kelley Blue Book or Consumer Reports.
Find out if the seller owes money on the car for sale. Do not offer to “pay-off” the car for the owner.
Make an offer then demand a bill of sale once the purchase is made. The owner then is obligated to pay off the car and produce a clear title within one to two weeks.
Always consult with the Motor Vehicle Department in your state regarding clear titles, release of lien, and bills of sale before making private vehicle purchases.
Beware of dealers posing as private owners. Some used car dealers pose as private owners to sell cars that have been on a lot too long. This shifty practice is called “kerb stoning.”
Have your money or financing ready before buying from a private seller. Deal from a position of strength by being able to back up your offer.
When buying a private used car, it is important to go in with as much knowledge as you can. Let the above tips guide you in your next purchase.