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Buying a used car from owner on Craigslist

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    Buying a used car from owner on Craigslist

    I am shopping for a replacement vehicle. A used Honda or Camry. I am currently waiting to hear back from an owner about their used Camry.

    Have you ever bought a car on Craigslist? If so, how did it go?

    What questions would you ask the buyer and what would be your plan of buying a car on Craigslist from breaking the ice with the buyer to completing the sale? E.g. do you agree to meet the seller at your bank to complete the sale? My state does not require a Bill of Sale but I can use a generic form.

    The Camry I am potentially buying is in "good condition" so I am wondering what the reasons are why it's not in very good or excellent condition. I am prepared to walk from the deal if need be, no pressure to buy, but AC has pretty much gone out on my truck with 228k miles so I want to get something soon.

    Any advice or feedback on this topic is appreciated.

    #2
    1) ask for service records - I would buy a vehicle with twice the mileage with complete records than one with half the miles and no records of service.

    2) if you have no idea what to look for in a used vehicle ask if you can have your mechanic take a look at it.

    3) do a vin check for the vehicle history report
    Gunga galunga...gunga -- gunga galunga.

    Comment


      #3
      Lots of people buy cars from private sellers like those advertised on CraigsList. As buyer, it is presumed that you do all the homework, research make and model of choice, like Used Car Lemon Aid [Edmunds] as a starting point. All the risk is on your side. A bill of sale is OK but not helpful for warranty, stories of repairs or operational excellence. greenskeeper makes good points.

      It's worth the cost to use Carfax or similar service to check ViN, sold records, whether there have been write offs, reported stolen etc. If the seller doesn't have maintenance records for you to carefully check, I'd walk away. You want to match repairs with whatever reported weakness research uncovers if warranty has expired. If there is any warranty, make sure it's transferable and ask the costs from the applicable dealership that issued it.

      Your average car salesman isn't much better. They will say whatever they need to say to persuade you to buy as they live commission to commission and must meet their quota to retain their job.

      [Backstory] I never buy new vehicles and over the years bought privately and at auto auctions which are super high risk.

      Comment


        #4
        Get a carfax, but DON'T get a false sense of security from it.

        Mechanics are not obligated to report any work they do on the car. A body shop might not either.

        Buddy of mine had a rebuilt engine on his Honda and it didn't show up on the carfax. It didn't affect it, but the obviously the odometer was "false" now. The chassis of the car had 106K miles but the new engine probably only had 60K miles on it—so car was probably "younger" than it showed on the odometer.

        Comment


          #5
          I'd ask for the service records. Make sure oil changes and other maintenance was performed regularly. Look over the car with a fine tooth comb. If you don't know cars, then take someone along that does. A mechanic or a friend that has some mechanical knowledge. Meeting at a bank or a DMV is a good idea. It makes the title switch a little smoother.
          Brian

          Comment


            #6
            You can pay a garage to do a pre-purchase inspection. Call a place and ask if you can see their inspection checklist. Build rapport with the mechanic that will check out the car and ask him for red flags and if it were him, would he buy the car.

            Comment


              #7
              Don't bring cash with you. Once you like the car, go to your bank with the seller and transact it there; sign title and withdraw cash (or cashier check). Good for buyer (because he knows cash is from a bank); good for you because you aren't carrying thousands in cash.

              Comment


                #8
                We sold 2 cars on CL, and bought 1. For the selling, we received cash. For the buying, we paid cash. Service records are nice to have, as is a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by snafu View Post
                  Lots of people buy cars from private sellers like those advertised on CraigsList. As buyer, it is presumed that you do all the homework, research make and model of choice, like Used Car Lemon Aid [Edmunds] as a starting point. All the risk is on your side. A bill of sale is OK but not helpful for warranty, stories of repairs or operational excellence. greenskeeper makes good points.

                  It's worth the cost to use Carfax or similar service to check ViN, sold records, whether there have been write offs, reported stolen etc. If the seller doesn't have maintenance records for you to carefully check, I'd walk away. You want to match repairs with whatever reported weakness research uncovers if warranty has expired. If there is any warranty, make sure it's transferable and ask the costs from the applicable dealership that issued it.

                  Your average car salesman isn't much better. They will say whatever they need to say to persuade you to buy as they live commission to commission and must meet their quota to retain their job.

                  [Backstory] I never buy new vehicles and over the years bought privately and at auto auctions which are super high risk.
                  Having been in the car business, I can tell you that a Car Fax isn't worth the paper that it is printed on.

                  Comment

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