8 Reasons Not to Buy a Used Car from a Private Seller
When it comes to buying a used car, it’s not just about getting a good deal on the price. You can aim for the lowest cost around, but if that takes you to a private transaction from a non-commercial seller, you could be getting into shady territory. Before you buy that car parked in someone’s front yard or search one out on Craigslist, consider these reasons to avoid a private purchase.
Learn More: Is buying a used car the best decision for you?
Potential Pitfalls of Buying a Car from a Private Seller
- There could be something wrong with the vehicle: Many people wait to sell their vehicle until the point that keeping it will cost them more than buying a new one, so it’s not uncommon for a seller to dump the vehicle when it needs a major repair or is on its last leg—and not tell you about it.
- Private sellers don’t care about repeat business: Because a private sale is a one-time transaction, sellers aren’t interested in customer service, reputability, customer satisfaction, and other factors that established businesses are, so you’re not guaranteed a positive experience from a private seller.
- The seller doesn’t know much about cars: Unlike doing business with a car salesman who works with and follows the ins and outs of the industry on a daily basis, a private seller probably doesn’t know much about cars and won’t be very helpful answering your questions.
- It’s harder to document and track private transactions: Privates sales are simply less documented than business sales, so be careful entering into a cash-only situation that lacks important paperwork or a record of the transaction. You don’t want the lack of records to come back to bite you.
- Post-sale follow-ups are tricky: Unlike a business with a long-term, publicized address, private sellers are harder to trace in the years to come, moving out of state, changing their phone number, or even changing their name.
- There’s no coverage or protection: Private sales offer the vehicle as is, not offering any safety net in case there’s something unexpectedly wrong with it.
- It’s harder to get information on vehicle history: Unless the private seller has retained thorough, accurate paperwork on the work that’s been done on the car, it’s much more arduous to gather information on a vehicle through a private sale than through a dealership.
- The vehicle could be stolen: Selling a stolen vehicle to make some quick money, especially if they have a fake title or previous documentation. Be vigilant about avoiding a scam.
If you decide to buy a vehicle from a private seller, there are important steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud and getting ripped off, like looking up the VIN number and taking the car to a mechanic before buying it.
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Source: Erbe Law Firm