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4 Tips For Buying A Used Car From A Private Seller

If you do not have enough money to get a new car, or you choose not to spend it when a used one would suit you just fine, you have two major options—going through a dealer or a private seller.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages. A certified used car from a dealership for example, is likely to be a solid buy with few problems; there is a bit more risk with buying a car directly from a private owner, but there are plenty of quality cars being sold this route every day. Here are some tips to increase your chances of purchasing such a car if you are going to buy directly from a private seller.

Determining General Price Range

When shopping for used cars, it is important to have a general idea of what they are truly worth. You can plug data into sites like NADA, Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book and they will give an estimated selling price. Another good idea is looking at Craigslist and other avenues people in your area use to list cars for sale to see the price ranges of different cars. All of this information combined can give you a clearer picture of how much cars are truly worth and how much negotiating power you may have.

Ask if the Car Has Ever Been in an Accident

When considering a used car, it is important to find out if the car has ever been in an accident. Ideally, the answer will be no, but a yes does not mean you have to pass. You want to find out the nature of the accident and where most of the damage occurred. You might want to contact the insurance company and the shop that handled the repairs to make sure everything is kosher. Get a CarFax report or ask if the seller already has one handy.

Ask to See Maintenance Records

Cars in the best condition regularly receive the upkeep that many of us neglect to give it; ask to see maintenance records, such as oil changes, new brake pads,etc… If the seller openly admits to not regularly maintaining the car, that is a red flag. If he claims to regularly service the car but says he does not keep records, that can be a sticky situation. Not everyone may keep the paperwork so it is possible he is being truthful, but you might consider taking a pass anyway since you want to do everything you can to make sure you are purchasing a quality vehicle.

Ask for a Private Inspection

If the seller is giving you a quality car, he will have no problem allowing you to do this; if not, walk away because he is either knowingly hiding something or really has no idea whether the car is in good condition and is afraid you will find something bad. If you are really serious about the car and think you want to buy it, ask if you could put a deposit down and take it for 24 hours so you can bring it to the mechanic. It will also give you a chance to get acquainted with the car , how it drives and see if there are any issues that may not be obvious with a quick drive or cursory visual inspection.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has written about a variety of car-related topics from how to get cheaper car insurance to buying a car for your teenage driver. If you are looking for car insurance in Canada, check out the quote comparison tool at Kanetix.

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