Before you buy a used car from a privater party or seller, you’re going to want to make sure you know what to do and how to do it.
More people than ever are looking to buy used cars versus new cars due to the extremely high cost of new cars today. Not only are car prices skyrocketing, but more people understand the opportunty cost. with the rapid depreciation of a new car.
How to Buy a Car From a Private Seller
This may be your first time purchasing a used car from a private seller and you may be wondering how to avoid a scam and get teh best deal.
You also want to ensure you aren’t paying too much for a vehicle and that you’re asking the right questions before you buy. And with the non-stop scams that are appearing everywhere, it’s especially important to make sure you aren’t getting scammed on a car that you’ve financed instead of paying cash for.
To help make sure you don’t get scammed when you buy your next car, here are 7 things you must know before buying your used car.
Step 1. Ask Lots of Questions
If you are buying the car privately instead of at a dealership, it might be a good idea to ask the owner why they are selling it. You should also find out if the seller originally purchased it brand new, or if it was used when they bought it.
If the seller gives you vague answers, you can always walk away and look for something else. Even if you do shop at car dealerships for your next used car, you need to find out about previous owners, service records, and any damages the car has had in the past.
Step 2. What is the Condition of the Car?
The first thing to look at when buying a used car is the age of the vehicle and how many miles are on it. Also, check to see if the seller has any records from the service that has been done on it.
If you are not familiar with car maintenance and what to look for when it comes to damage and abuse, take someone with you who is. Better yet, you can also hire a mechanic to come with you to look at the vehicle.
Hiring a mechanic may cost you a few dollars, but it’ll be worth it if you can avoid major problems before you buy the car. You should also try to find out if there have been any recall notices and whether or not they were addressed.
Step 3. How is the Car Equipped?
Depending on your own needs in a vehicle, this could be a deal breaker. Check the Kelley Blue Book price against the amount the owner is asking, keeping in mind the options on the car. This will help you determine if they are asking a fair price. If the price seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is, or the car has some hidden damages you may not have noticed.
“Features” aren’t everything when it comes to a car, especially if you are working hard to get out of debt. Before you shop for a “fully loaded” car, ask yourself if you really need all of those features, or if a more basic car will do so you can use your money elsewhere instead. But if there are features you truly need, like enough space for your family, don’t settle for a car that won’t meet your needs. If you do, you’ll likely end up car shopping again in a just a few months or a year down the road to find a car that will better suit your needs.
Step 4. CARFAX It
If you live in the United States or Canada, you are going to want to CARFAX it. Before you purchase a used car or truck, you want to be 100% sure you know exactly what you are buying. A CARFAX uses the vehicle identification number (VIN) to show you any accident history, claims, actual odometer readings, existence of a branded title such as a salvage or junk title, or even past registration as a fleet vehicle. The bottom line is you should always take the extra few minutes a run a CARFAX.
Step 5. Thoroughly Test Drive it
Take your time to thoroughly check out the vehicle and don’t let the seller pressure you by saying others are interested as well. Don’t just take it around the block, get it out on the highway as well. Some cars handle fine in town, but develop a shimmy or shake on the highway at high speeds. This could be a sign of something simple, such as tires being out of alignment, but it could also be caused by a bigger problem, like a bent axle. If you notice a shake when you are test driving a car, you definitely need to get it checked out by a trusted mechanic before you buy it.
Step 6. Negotiate
Don’t rush your decision to buy the car. The longer you shop around, the better the deal you will find. If you aren’t comfortable negotiating, take someone with you who will negotiate on your behalf. There’s no shame in asking for the best possible price, whether you are working with a private seller or a dealership.
Hopefully you won’t be in a position where you are in a hurry to buy a car, when this happens you lose the power of negotiation and the ability to walk away if the seller won’t work with you on price.
Top Negotiating Tip with the Power of Cash
Studies have shown that when a human being sees large amounts of cash in front of them, their pupils dilate, their heart rate increases, and their blood pressure is elevated. These signs are all known as a sympathetic nervous response. This response is the basis for my negotiating skills when it comes to making large purchases.
Use the power of cash to create this response whenever negotiating to make a large purchase. Here is how it works for a $10,000 vehicle purchase:
- First withdraw the pre-determined maximum amount of money I am willing to spend and I ask for the cash in $20s.
- Next, place $8,000 cash inside a briefcase with all the bills facing the same way.
- Keep the other $2,000 in a roll inside your pocket.
When you are ready to negotiate your offer, pop the latches on the briefcase simultaneously and offer the seller $8,000 on the spot. Once they see the cash and they have the sympathetic nervous response mentioned above, 9 times out of 10 you can expect to hear “DEAL!”.
However, if there needs to be a little wiggle room, you do have the extra $2,000 in your pocket.
Step 7. Talk to Your Banker Before You Begin
The time to check into financing is before you begin car shopping, not after you have one picked out. This way you’ll know how much you can spend and how much of a payment you can handle if you don’t have all the cash saved up already.
If you’re taking these steps, you are on the right track. You want your vehicle to last several years, so this decision should not be made in haste. Do your homework and you will have a better outcome
Buying a car is often stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. When you take things step-by-step and create a plan before you are ready to buy, you’re going to save yourself a ton of stress and money.
Be patient, look for a deal you are most comfortable with and always negotiate. Good luck on your next car!