Although most people associate buying a vehicle with dealerships, private sellers constitute a significant part of the used car market. Purchasing a car from a private seller can potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
In most cases, private sellers need to sell their vehicles for extra money or to dispose of them. Regardless of the reason, when purchasing a used vehicle from a private seller there are things to consider.
What To Consider When Buying A Used Vehicle From A Private Seller
Before doing anything you need to research, plan and prepare to purchase the vehicle. Part of doing research entails carrying out a VIN search once you have established a good fit.
With online VIN decoders like VinPit, you can do license plate lookup. This allows you to get a comprehensive report about the vehicle. The report includes accident history, ownership history, and vehicle title among others.
Some of the details you get from doing a VIN check include:
- Establish if the vehicle has an outstanding lien
- Identify if the vehicle odometer has been tampered with been tampered with
- Establish if there has been an insurance claim on the vehicle
2. Scrutinize The Ad
As you review the ad of the private seller, you need to scrutinize the vehicle description. Look out for relevant details such as mileage, model, year, and duration of ownership. Also, the dealer should indicate if he/she is the only owner.
The description needs to show details about the vehicle conditions including any accidents sustained. As such, the private seller should highlight any imperfections that require repairs.
If an ad lists issues it can sometimes be a signal the seller is sincere in representing the vehicle condition.
3. Get In Touch With The Seller
If you come across a vehicle you are interested in with enough details, the next step is to contact the seller. Start by affirming the details on the ad and asking preliminary questions about repair and accident history.
You can go ahead and request to meet with the owner in a public place to test drive the vehicle.
4. Check The Vehicle
After you meet the seller, take time to examine the condition of the vehicle. Ensures you check rust, tire tread, pedal wear, interior electronics, headlights and taillights, car battery, wipers, shocks, locks, and air conditioning and heat.
5. Do A Test Drive
After doing the preliminary examination of the car’s crucial parts, you can now test drive it. Ensure, you test the car for not less than 20 minutes to ensure you get a feel of its performance.
Listen to engine sound and listen to how the transmission shifts. If the engine is unusually loud when changing gears for an automatic vehicle, it may signal a transmission issue. Take it for a test drive on the highway to test it at higher speeds.
6. Let Your Mechanic Inspect The Vehicle
After everything goes well with the test drive, take the car to your mechanic to inspect it. Ask the seller if it is okay to take the vehicle to your mechanic for more inspection. The mechanic will be in a position to do a thorough check.
7. Give The Seller An Offer
After completing the test drive and inspection and you are satisfied, you can now make a purchasing offer. If you wish to offer the asking price or less it is up to you. In case you notice considerable defects, you can offer less compared to the asking price.
If there are no such defects and is vehicle is in good condition, make an offer that is not too low. Otherwise, you risk insulting the seller. After both of you agree on the price, the only remaining thing is to exchange money and complete the required paperwork.
The vehicle title is the most important document which will officially transfer ownership to you. Also, you should request a signed receipt that details the transaction that you may come with to the sale.
Every state has its requirements and documentation for a sale. So, you can get in touch with a local DMV/BMV and request clarification on sale vehicle documentation.
What’s more, always avoid a situation that feels suspicious. It is advisable to bring along a relative or friend to help you inspect the vehicle to guarantee safety.
Buying a used vehicle from a private seller should be easy with the steps outlined above. The process requires doing a thorough background check on the vehicle using its VIN. You will get a detailed report about the vehicle you are interested in.
Armed with that report you can decide to or not proceed with checking the vehicle. A vehicle history report is an important part of buying a used vehicle.
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