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8 Reasons Not to Buy a Used Car from a Private Seller

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do your research used car sales

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.

Potential Pitfalls of Buying a Car from a Private Seller

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Source: Erbe Law Firm