Is it Really Safe to Purchase a Used Car on Craigslist?
With several reports in the media shedding negative light on the popular website Craigslist, one has to wonder how safe it is to purchase a second hand used vehicle on Craigslist Cars. As an avid car buyer and car seller who has used this service for several years now, I can tell you that it is actually much safer than many people believe.
The first question that I ask anyone who doubts the safety of purchasing a used vehicle online is what the difference between purchasing a car from the newspaper classified ads and purchasing a car on the internet. The majority of time, the person is unable to present a logical argument. The truth is, anyone can post an advertisement on the internet, just as anyone can post an ad in your local newspaper. It is important to keep an open mind and realize that the computer age is here and using a personal computer can be a very effective way to find a used car. It is not fair that stories of robbery are heavily publicized when they occur from a transaction that started online when there are several other incidents involving transactions offline.
Finding the Car that is Right for You
There are many misconceptions surrounding the purchase of a used car. Most who criticize used car purchases are unaware of what it takes to effectively buy a used vehicle. This year alone, I have purchased and sold nearly a dozen cars without incident. Armed with the proper knowledge, you too can buy a used car without making a mistake as many others have in the past. It all starts with having a basic understanding of what to purchase and what not to purchase. To be on the safe side, you will want to find cars that have a reputation for being reliable cars. While this is usually a matter of opinion, it is best to make your own judgment call on this one. Take a look at all of the older cars around you. Speak with the owners of these cars and ask them how they like their car. Most people will be willing to give you their honest opinion about their automobile if you simply ask. Examining the car for prior collisions and major engine or transmission work is by far the most important part when it comes to buying a used car.
Evidence of Prior Collision
One of the first items that you should inspect is the overall structure of the vehicle that you are considering for purchase. This involves getting underneath with a flashlight and inspecting the frame and body components. For lower vehicles, you may want to bring along a car jack and safety jack stands to get a better look at the underside. Take a look at every part of the frame from the front to the rear. Look for areas where the frame has been beat back into place. A flashlight can be especially handy when it comes to doing your inspection. While you are under there, take a look at the suspension and check for evidence of rust. Never buy a car that has a rusty chaise. It may even be helpful to run a history report using the cars VIN number to better understand the past history of the car.
Examine the Major Components Including the Engine and Transmission
Sometimes, you will encounter a seller who is interested in dumping a car that has a bad engine or transmission. They will often fill the case with oil additives to lessen the symptoms. After purchasing the car, you begin to notice that the car is not shifting correctly or you hear engine knocking. At this point you realize that someone sold you a bad car. In order to avoid this, you should always take a close look at all of your vehicles components. Take a look at all of the fluids and see if they smell burnt. You will also want to take the car for a test drive for several miles and listen closely to what the car is telling you. Often times, a slight noise can have a major underlying problem.
Run a Carfax Report
Before you purchase any car, it is a great idea to run a Carfax Report. This report only cost about $35 and can tell you a lot about the car that you are about to purchase. For only $10 more, you are able to purchase a total of 5 reports that will help to make your car shopping experience much safer. In order to run a report, all you need is the Vehicle Identification Number and less than 5 minutes. Learn everything about the car from collisions to mileage readings and the number of owners that it has had in the past. It is money well spent. You will be glad that you did so the first time that you encounter a problematic car that you almost purchased.
Whether you are buying a car from the newspaper, a roadside deal, or on Craigslist, you should always keep safety first. A little bit of common sense goes a long way when shopping for a used car. For starters, always look a used car with a partner and never bring cash when you first come to look at a vehicle. It is always a good idea to look at the vehicle during daylight hours and in a public place. Speak with the seller on the telephone prior to meeting with them and never offer the seller cash until they produce a title and you have it signed over by a notary. There is no such thing as being too safe when buying a used car. If you feel as if something is just not right, walk away and look for another vehicle. There are plenty around to choose from so you are able to be selective.