7 Tips for Buying a Used Car from an Individual

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If you are looking to buy a used car, you may find yourself talking to individuals about the cars they are selling. If you are looking for one-owner vehicles, this is one way to go. There are some things you should do, buying from the car’s owner is a lot different from buying from dealers of pre-owned vehicles and you need to do a different kind of due diligence.

  1. Make sure you are buying from the car’s owner. Often car dealers want to look like they are selling their own car. They know that there is a market out there for one-owner vehicles so they try to make themselves look like they are just individuals selling a car. They use computer applications to post their listings to multiple sites at the same time. The trick to figuring this out is that the listings tend to go up in batches. If you call the phone numbers listed in the ads around the one that interests you and you get the same person or outgoing message, you know that these cars are being sold by dealers.
  2. Check out the phone number. The people who try to sell cars as individuals also use the technique of using throw away cell phones and call forwarding services. It is important to note that these people are doing this to avoid having to comply with the regulations that used car dealership have to deal with. They are shady and you should not buy a car from them. Take the phone number on the ad and go a Google search. If it has been used in a recent sale of a car, beware. The chances are that their vehicles are not one-owner vehicles.
  3. Be careful with what you reveal on the phone. If you see an ad for a car or truck that really interests you, there are other ways to find out if you are dealing with the car’s original owner or someone who is trying to get around the rules and regulations for selling used cars. When you call, do not mention the make or model just say, “I am interested in the car you have for sale.” If they come back at you with, “Which car do you mean?” you may want to ask some other questions. It is possible that someone has a valid reason for having more than one car for sale but it is not the norm and should raise a red flag or two.
  4. Ask, “are you the owner of the car?” You can always just cut to the chase and ask if it is their car they are selling. Do not leave it at that, find out how long they owned the car and why they are selling it. If you have any questions about their answers, you may want to go someplace else. Some of these people are actually taking salvage cars and flipping them the same way you would a house.
  5. Confirm the address. Get the vin number and check the title and the registration. It makes some sense for a private seller to not want to have people they do not know coming by their home so if they ask you to meet at another location, that might not mean anything. If you have the time, go by the address that the car is registered to. You should not pay anything to anyone until you have been able to verify the address.
  6. Get all information on the maintenance it has received. When you go to a pre-owned dealership, you get a decent amount of information about the car and what it has gone through in terms of maintenance. If you are looking at one-owner vehicles and you are talking to the owner of the car, they are going to have all of the records for its maintenance. If you are talking to someone who is trying to flip a junk car, they will not have anything.
  7. Take the car for a test drive. No matter where you buy your used car, you should test it out first.

If you do your research, you will get the car you want.


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