New cars are very expensive, and many people who are already struggling to pay student loans, rent, or home mortgages cannot afford the additional payment of a new car. It is possible to purchase a reliable used car on Craigslist at a fraction of the price that you would spend at a dealership. However, buyers must protect themselves against scams and other unsavory business practices.
Remember that when you purchase a used car from a private seller on Craigslist, you are not afforded many of the protections that you get when you purchase from a dealership. A private seller has no professional reputation to protect. However, there are many good deals available on Craigslist that you can take advantage of by remembering a few simple rules.
See also: Where to Find the Best Used Cars
Rules For Shopping for a Used Car on Craigslist
Used cars are less expensive than new cars, but you have to set aside some of your budget for maintenance costs. If you purchase a car, and then you find you need to have some brake work done in a few months, it doesn’t mean that you purchased a bad car. Most used cars require around a thousand dollars of maintenance every year.
The situations you want to avoid are those where you purchase a car that completely falls apart after you take possession. Also, watch out for buyers that take your money and promise to deliver a car at a later date. There are many scams out there that can be avoided while keeping these rules in mind.
- Looking for a used car on Craiglist
- Make sure the photos match the listing
- Pop the hood before and after the test drive
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
- Ask the right questions
Looking for a Used Car on Craiglist
Let’s say you have decided you need a 2009 Toyota RAV4 with less than a 100,000 miles on the odometer. With that data in hand, simply surf to Craigslist.org, pick the area that you would like to shop in and determine if you would like to buy a used car on Craiglist from a car dealer, an individual or both.
Enter the vehicle’s specific criteria to filter the results, and hit enter. If your search comes up empty, then expand the particulars to include more model years or higher mileage. If this search nevertheless yields nothing and you are prepared to wait, use the”save search” option at the top of the page and Craigslist will automatically alert you when a used car meeting your criteria appears.
Make Sure the Photos Match the Listing
As you begin your search for a new car, the first thing you should do is eliminate all listings that do not have photos. If a seller doesn’t even go to the bother of uploading a photo, you don’t want to do business with that individual. The more photos, the more likely the seller is sincere in his or her offer.
Always compare the photos to the description in the listing. If the listing says that the car is a standard transmission, but the photo shows an automatic, then the listing has disqualified itself. Do not call the seller for an explanation. If they can’t get the listing right, you don’t want to waste your time with them.
Pop the Hood Before and After the Test Drive
You should always look under the hood before getting into a car. It’s also a good idea to have a friend with you so that you can verify that all the brake lights and indicator lights are working. When you pop the hood, check for signs of moisture or fluid leakage. You can even take a picture of the engine prior to the test drive for reference.
After a short test drive, pop the hood again. If there is a coolant leak, for example, coolant will have sprayed onto the motor. You can compare your earlier motor photo with the post-test drive appearance of the motor to check for any problems.
It’s Too Good to Be True
Sometimes you’ll come across a listing from a person who is selling a vehicle on behalf of a relative for far below market value. Usually, the explanation will be that the seller has suffered a personal loss and the car brings bad memories. This is a common scam.
The seller usually requires that you make a payment prior to receiving the vehicle. The result will be that the buyer loses the value of the vehicle and never gets anything in return. When purchasing a vehicle off Craigslist, never make any payment until you have a signed title in hand.
Ask The Right Questions
You have pared down your search and stayed patient. A couple of days have passed a small number of classifieds have arisen matching your criteria. Now what?
While you can not always judge a book by its cover, you can learn quite a bit about a used car from analyzing the online advertisement. A fantastic seller typically provides details on the status and history of the automobile. Even though you might be unable to verify claims by simply reading the advertisement, you can eliminate options that raise a red flag.
The same holds for the photos. Although the low-resolution photos available through the site rarely tell the entire story, they could alert you to warning signals. An image of a rusted-out truck is going to save you from dropping everything in the middle of your day to go look at an underpriced pickup the owner claims is in pristine condition.
Begin your used car search on Craigslist with a simple email or text message asking if the car is still available. You might also want to request additional photos or ask for higher-resolution variations of those shots that are posted. If the ad does not include a telephone number, ask one. The same is true for the location of the car.
If the car is available and you have the telephone number, call and talk. A couple of minutes on the telephone will often be sufficient to boost your confidence level or convince you to proceed to another vehicle on your shortlist. Start looking for inconsistencies in the stories surrounding the automobile too. If the seller tells you that the automobile has “lived its entire life in salt-free Arizona” and then mentions how great it’s in the snow, then you might wish to kindly thank them for their time and look elsewhere.
If you’re buying from a private seller or unknown used car dealer, learn how to prevent curb stoning for helpful advice on handling this circumstance. Finally, ask if the car has a clean title to determine if there are any title problems, including a lien or a rebuilt or salvage title.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself
A final way of making sure you don’t get ripped off when purchasing vehicles off Craigslist is to ask to take a photo of the ID of the seller. If the seller refuses or claims that he or she has no ID, you should not make the transaction.
There are a lot of great used car deals on Craigslist, and most of the people online are honest and only want to receive fair market value for their vehicles. By taking a few simple steps, you are able to protect yourself against fraudulent sellers. Remember that even if you purchase a vehicle at a dealership, there is a chance that you will get a bad car. The advantage of Craigslist is that the prices are always much more affordable. Good luck car hunting!