If you are reading this, then you are in the market for a used vehicle... congratulations! It also means that you are smart, and you are trying your best to do whatever research you can before hand. I am here to help you do that. Between my husband and I we have a combined 17 years of experience in the automotive industry and I can't begin to tell you how many sob stories we have heard from people who bought a used car and got ripped off or swindled! There are so many avenues to find a used car: online websites like eBay, Carsforsale, Craigslist etc. Or there are newspapers, magazines, word of mouth, flyers, dealerships, consignment lots... you get the point. But behind all of those ads and places are people. And most of the time those people do not care about you. My husband and I worked really hard to build a dealership that really does care and goes the extra mile to give you peace of mind with your purchase. MOST people, however, don't do that. So I am going to share some of the tools we use to get our customers the best cars, and hopefully you can use them to get an awesome, reliable car that you deserve. car sale
First of all you need to come to the reality that the vast majority of people out there have something to hide... and it is your job to figure that out. You don't have to be mean but don't let your guard down.
The second thing is that there is a procedure list that I am going to give you and you need to follow it. It is easy to get excited and be blinded with excitement about a vehicle when you really need to be focused and not get your hopes up until everything on this list is checked off.
This procedure list will help you feel out what kind of car you are buying and what kinds of people you are buying from:
When asking the initial questions make sure:
1. It holds a clean title (Salvage titles... this is its own discussion that would take a long time to write about. You may get lucky with a theft salvage title... but the majority of salvage titles are from an accident, and its best that you just walk away. Almost every salvage title advertisement will read like this... "SALVAGE TITLE..but it was a minor accident!"! If you know the definition of salvage... then you know that is not true. Salvage means that the car was involved in such a severe accident that the insurance company decided the damages were more than the car was worth. Or that it had airbag deployment or frame damage. A salvage title car may look great... but don't let that fool you. Problems may occur down the line. So... Our advice... is to just stay clear of salvage cars. used car sale by owner
2. RUN some sort of vehicle history report. Carfax is a popular one. This shows if it holds a clean title, if the miles are verified and if it was in an accident (be sure to have the frame checked for frame damage and be sure the airbags did not employ). It also tells you how many owners it has had and how long the current owner has had it (easy to catch someone in a lie here - if they told you they had it for 5 years but the history report says current owner has had it for 6 months). The less owners the better- you can tell a lot about how a car was taken care of by the owner standing in front of you. *if you are buying from a dealer obviously you can't tell how it was taken care of but they should give you a copy of the Carfax or history report and you can assess it!
3. If you are buying private party then ask the person how long they have had the vehicle and **is their name on the title??** This is probably the most important question! And if they tell you it is their sister's, friend's, or aunt's car that is a HUGE RED FLAG! Id say over P percent of the cars listed on Craigslist fall under this category. They're flipping cars illegally... We have found that a large amount of people are doing what we call "flipping cars" for profit. This means they buy the car and DO NOT register it in their name and then try to sell it for a profit. Most the time they will cover up hidden problems or try and hide things to get a quick flip. Then after they sell you the car, they will change their phone number and do it all over again. If someone's name isn't on the title or doesn't have their dealers license then WALK AWAY!
4. Make the sure the vehicle has been smog'd recently! All vehicles (if it is a hybrid call a local smog shop to be sure) 4 years or older must be smog'd BY SELLER and the smog is only good for 90 days. (In CA- Check your state's requirements!)
5. Once you have determined that all of the above checks out it is time to drive it and make sure you like it! Look at the body and make sure it looks like it wasn't in a big accident, make sure no check engine lights are on. Make sure it drives smooth.
6. Now it is time to take it to a certified mechanic and have them do a PRE-PURCHASE inspection! You would be shocked at what someone can hide in the 20 minutes you spend test driving the car. GET IT INSPECTED! Spending thousands on a vehicle is worth spending around $100 to make sure it is working! Or if you are at a dealer ask to see the inspection sheet or take it somewhere local- they will let you if they are reputable. (most used cars will have a few minor things and that is OK.)
7. Now is time to use what was found on the inspection sheet to get the price down even more. If something needs to be done and you are going to end up doing it if you purchase the car then try to get them to take that amount off the price.
8. Once you have an agreed amount then make sure that the individual has the title and recent smog (within 90 days) there with them! Write out a Bill of Sale stating the date, amount and people involved in the vehicle transaction.
And finally 9. pass the info to your friends and family. Lets all try to help those who might get ripped off otherwise! It is a dog-eat-dog world out there, but if they use this list then they should be light years more prepared then they were before! We wish you the best in your searching and don't forget to go with your gut too! God Bless!