How to Buy a Car on Craigslist Cars
Millions of car buyers are making the smart choice today by selecting a used vehicle from Craigslist cars. There are many different reasons why it is a better choice to buy used vehicles instead of new. First and foremost, the used vehicle is a great financial decision because you can pick one up for just a fraction of the price that you would pay for a new car or truck. Within the first two years of ownership, most vehicles lose a significant amount of their value due to depreciation. Depreciation is the amount of value that an asset loses during a specific period of time. In this example the asset is an automobile, the time is two years, and the amount can be thousands of dollars. This amount can very greatly depending on vehicle make and model. For instance, most Japanese vehicles depreciate at a much slower rate than many American vehicles. Part of the reason behind this is the fact that foreign vehicles have had the upper hand in engineering for the past several decades. The American cars of today are engineered and manufactured much better than the ones of the past, therefore they are holding their value a bit better. If you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of purchasing a used automobile on Craigslist, you may be surprised to know that there is so much to it. Anyone can buy a used car from a private seller but very few know how to do this while avoiding many of the potential problems that you may encounter when it comes to buying a used car. While there is no foolproof way to purchase an automobile without buying a dud, there are many things that you can do to increase the probability of purchasing a great used car. Here are 10 tips that will help you make a wise purchase decision.
Know How Much the Car is Worth
As a former used car salesman, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have seen someone buy a used car for several thousand dollars more than what it is worth. A familiar saying in the automotive industry is that “there is a sucker born every minute.” By knowing how much the vehicle you are about to purchase is worth, you can avoid paying too much for it. There are several different ways to go about determining a vehicle’s value. One thing that you should keep in mind is that a privately sold car will have a different value than one that you would find at a dealer. This holds true no matter what type of car you are looking at purchasing. Whenever examining the book value on websites such as Kelly Blue Book or NADA, you’ll notice that there are two different prices – one for a private sales price and the other a retail sales price. When using such a guide you should always base your price on the type of transaction that you are going to perform. In addition to the book value, you should also take a look around to see what others are selling the same vehicle for in your area. This is a great practice because factors such as supply and demand in your local area can greatly affect the current market value of the car. Between the book value and comparable vehicles, you should be able to come up with a good estimate as to how much the car is worth.
Make Sure the Car has a Clean Title
Perhaps you find a really great deal on a car but the only problem is that it has a salvage title or a similar title issues such as flood or fire. This car may sell for thousands of dollars less than comparable vehicles but you should not fall into this trap. There are a number of reasons why it is not a good idea to buy a vehicle with a salvage title. One reason for not buying an unclean title is that the car will likely suffer a problem or multiple problems later on down the road. For instance, if you purchase a flooded vehicle then many of the electronic components will likely prematurely fail due to water exposure. Craigslist cars with a salvage history may have problems such as uneven tire wear or body panels not lining up. In many cases, these cars are not structurally sound enough to drive and could fail in the event of another accident because the metal is weakened. Another reason why you do not want to buy a salvage car is because you will have a difficult time selling it in the future. One great way to find out everything that you would want to know about a particular vehicle is to go online and search the vehicle history. While there are many websites that can provide this service, CarFax is well known and has been around for many years. Simply jot down the vehicle identification number and enter this number online. Within seconds you can find out any information you would like to know such as accidents, odometer errors or a number of other things.
Avoid Scammers Lurking Craigslist Cars
It is an unfortunate part of life but we have to face the fact that there has always been and will always be scammers out there. This holds true to both in person and online. Spotting a thief online can be quite complicated but you can avoid this problem by using a little bit of common sense. One dead giveaway that will raise a red flag is if the vehicle is in excellent shape and selling for thousands of dollars less than comparable vehicles. Scammers use this tactic because it gets buyers excited and they often quickly jump into this scam. Before they know it, their money is gone and they are left wondering why they fell for such an obvious trick. Another obvious sign that you are dealing with a scammer is because they will often have some type of story that goes along with why they are selling their vehicle. Everything from divorce to a move overseas will often giveaway a scammer. Just because somebody tells you that they are getting a divorce or moving overseas does not necessarily mean that it is a scam. Watch out for sellers who are asking for special concessions due to their circumstances.
Never Send Money Western Union for any Reason
When dealing with a scammer you will often be asked to send them money via Western Union. No matter how realistic the story may seem, don’t do it. You could potentially lose all of your money and end up with no car. All too often, someone falls for this scam and sends money to another country such as South Africa. South Africa is a hotspot for Internet scammers because the local government will often not work with other countries to find out who is stealing money from others. There are several other countries that the scammers operate out of, including the United States. When dealing with someone online you just never know who you are dealing with. Simple rule of thumb is that you should only deal with individuals in person and do not perform any monetary transactions over the Internet using services such as PayPal or even wiring money through Western Union. Stop for a second and ask yourself why this person is requesting that you pay them in a specific manner. A little bit of common sense goes a long ways here.
Perform all Necessary Paperwork with a Public Notary
Any transactions that you make should be completed in person with the seller of the vehicle and in front of a public notary. Ensure that the person you’re dealing with is also the person whose name is on the title. A notary will ensure this whenever the title is signed over. Check out public notaries to find one in your area that can do this. The service usually costs anywhere from $5-$10 per signature in the cost is paid by either the buyer or seller. A public notary is trained to recognize false documents and to ensure that the person who is selling a particular piece of property is actually the one who owns it. When it comes to choosing one you should be the one to make that decision, not the car seller. For all you know, the car seller may choose a notary that is a good friend that may not even be a licensed notary. Once all the information on the title has been verified the notary will stamp each document and sign it. Almost every state requires that a vehicle title is notarized before it can be registered. Don’t make the mistake of buying a car with a title that is not notarized. It may be possible that someone is selling another person’s car without them knowing. Next thing you know, someone is knocking on your door with the sheriff looking for their vehicle.
Have the Car Examined by a Professional
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a card inspection by a professional before making a buying decision. A vehicle inspection is fairly inexpensive considering everything that you get for the cost. Peace of mind should be worth several hundred dollars but a good mechanic can inspect your vehicle for around $100 or less. Have a mechanic check everything including the braking system, engine, transmission, air conditioning, electrical, cooling, suspension, tires, and any other system you can think of. A good inspection will take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to perform. Before buying a car you should ask the seller if they mind you taking it to your mechanic for an inspection. If the owner hesitate or says no then you may have a problem on your hands. If this is the case then get in your car, leave, and don’t look back. A professional inspection can save you hundreds of dollars in problems down the road and prevent you from buying a Craigslist used car that will have you spending more time in the shop than on the road. When choosing a mechanic be sure to find one that has several years of experience and know the ins and outs of an automobile. If you prefer, you can inspect the vehicle yourself but this is not recommended if you are an amateur.
Always Get a Warranty when Buying Craigslist Cars
One mistake that many people make is to buy a car without first obtaining a warranty. There are not too many people out there that will buy a new car without it coming with some type of warranty so why take the chance when purchasing a used car. Did you know that vehicle warranties are available on used cars that are being sold by private sellers? Their many websites that offer extended vehicle warranties for cars that are outside of their factory warranty. Factory warranties are sometimes transferable so this is something that you may want to look into and ask the seller before settling on the vehicle. In most cases, they are not transferable but there are a select group of car manufacturers that offer this option. If you have to purchase an extended vehicle warranty you can get one for as little as $50 per month and it will cover major expenses such as engine or transmission replacement or a number of other unforeseen mechanical problems. One thing you should not do is purchase a car knowing that it has problems and then use a warranty. This does not work and could get you in hot water.
Test Drive any Auto that you are Interested in
Once upon a time I had a car buyer who absolutely loved the vehicle that they saw but had one problem and that was he was unable to drive a manual transmission. He looked at the vehicle and decided that he wanted to purchase it. Just before we signed over the title I asked him if he was sure that he did not want to test drive it and he agreed that it was okay. It was a good thing that the vehicle I sold him was in good working order; however, he could have easily made a several thousand dollar mistake. As naïve as this may seem just remember that you should always test drive a car that you are interested in. Even if the car runs well there may be something that you don’t like about it such is the way that it drives. Anyone who is selling a car should be more than willing to allow you to go on a test drive with their vehicle. Some sellers may request that they go along with you for test drive while others will simply give you the keys and ask you to come back. No matter what the case may be you should always test drive any automobile that you are interested in before purchasing it. Even if you do not have the car inspected the least that you can do is test drive it.
Ask the Seller Lots of Questions
When it comes to buying a car, there is no such thing as asking too many questions. Whenever I purchase a used vehicle I will ask the seller everything from the purpose that he used his vehicle for to whether or not he smokes or has animals. All of these can be great questions that will assist you when it comes to buying a used car. You are about to spend several thousands of dollars so it is your right to know all of the information that you can possibly get your hands on in order to make an educated buying decision. There have been several instances where a car buyer simply looks inside the car, kicks the tires a time or two, and throws their money on the counter. If you do not know anything about cars then right now would be a great time to contact someone who does and have them come along with you to check out any car. Some great questions to ask may be how many owners the vehicle has had, whether it has been driven primarily in the city or on the highway, and if the engine or transmission has ever been replaced or rebuilt. A rebuild or replace transmission can be a plus in a higher mileage vehicle.
Shop Around Craigslist Cars and Make a Decision
Another mistake that many people make is to purchase the first car that they see. Being inpatient and not shopping around can end up costing you thousands of dollars. A good rule of thumb is that you should look at least one dozen vehicles before making a decision. While looking around at each car take a long a notebook and take notes of things you like and don’t like about the vehicle. This notebook will especially come in handy whenever you are trying to compare each car and make a final buying decision. For instance, if you are searching for a Ford Escort then look at several in your area first. Shopping around for a car is the best possible choice that you can make when deciding what type of vehicle you would like to drive. Take a look at other websites such as Autotrader for a wider selection of used cars in your local area. When combined with Craigslist you should have a large selection of used cars to choose from.
Buying a used car is a large financial decision that should not be taken lightly. After all, thousands of dollars are at stake here and you will have to rely on this car to transport you to and from work each day. By following these 10 tips you will greatly increase the chances of buying a good used car on Craigslist cars.