We’re obviously big fans here of the idea to buy a used car from a private owner. Private owners often have the best deals and sometimes you can get a car in better condition than you’ll find at a dealer. But some people are still leery of the idea, so here are some tips to make it less sketchy.
Meet The Person Somewhere Public – It’s awkward to go to someone’s house or have them come to you. Have them meet you in the middle, somewhere where you can take the car through all the gears, and is well lit so you can see any dings or other problems with the car.
Get The Car’s History – Although a CarFax isn’t full-proof, it’s good to come prepared with at least how many the owners the car has had. Find out how long this person has owned it. If they’ve owned it less than a year that should be a warning sign. If it’s the original owner on the other hand, it’s even better and you should ask about the maintenance history.
Get Cash or a Certified Check – Never take a personal check for a car, on either end. If you are selling a car you want something that will clear before the title goes through, and if you are buying you don’t want someone holding onto a large check for so long.
Have Someone Notarize the Sale – This is required in some states, but if it’s not, it’s a good idea to get a bill of sale notarized. You can find an example online, and some states have specific forms you must use.