Car Buying with a Private Sale

By: Mark Robinson

When you go to buy a car there are three places you can usually choose from. You can choose a car dealership, auction or a private sale. With a private sale you are dealing directly with an owner that needs to sell the car for a variety of reasons. In most cases they are trying to get a little more for their car than was offered at trade in for the new vehicle or they had this one sitting around for some reason. In most cases the private sale is going to be a move filled with a little desperation. It is always good to approach the person to try and ascertain the reason they are selling. Sometimes you may have to read between the lines, but most often you will find it is a move to make their life a little easier in some way.

The thing you should realize is that they will have done their research on the vehicle. They are going to determine whether the car is in good or excellent shape by searching on Kelly Blue Book. They are also going to usually determine the price regarding Kelly Blue Books suggestion or another consumer report that exists. In most cases they are going to advertise the actual car price as higher than the Blue Book price in the hopes that they get the fair value and leave you with negotiating room. They may also have a specific amount they need from the car. For instance if they are trying to purchase a new home and they need a down payment of $3000 or they need that for their own new car that is what they are going to try and get from you. So it pays to understand the opponent you have in the negotiation.

Whenever you buy a used car whether it is from a dealership or a private sale you need to make sure you have fully inspected the vehicle. With a private sale the person is not obligated to tell you what is totally wrong with the vehicle. In other words if there is an oil leak or some other small problem that you don't see they don't have to tell you about it. Unlike a car dealership you can't ask and expect to see a carfax report from the owner. You can do your own search for a report, but they are not obligated to offer you that information.

What you should do is ask for the owner to allow a test drive to your mechanic. You can both stand there while the mechanic tells you what is wrong with the car. It is best to choose someone you can trust, but keep the entire thing above board. The owner may know what is wrong with the car or suspect that the mechanic is giving you a list of false information if they rattle off too many things. The idea is to pay a fair price, but not have either party scamming the other.

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