The Realities of Buying a Used Car on Craigslist 

October 9th, 2014 by

Craigslist Shopper - Find a Used Car

Craigslist has given us incredible access to a lot of buying, selling, and trading opportunities that could never have been choreographed offline. However, there are a few caveats you should know about before using the site to find a used car.

First, and most importantly, remember safety. If you decide to purchase anything from Craigslist, always bring your phone, and make sure you arrange to meet the seller in a public place.

Secondly, take the time to find the right match. With so many listings to peruse and so many eager sellers, Craigslist can become inundating and time consuming.

Hang in there. Here are a few tips that can help you narrow down the field.

Know What to Look For

If you decide that you’re going to buy on Craigslist, it’s crucial to know what to look for. Steer clear of ads and sellers that lack information or seem shady. Go for ones that:

  • Have solid background information about the vehicle
  • Seem to know the basics of appropriate vehicle maintenance
  • Suggest a reasonable price, but appear wiling to negotiate

If an offer on Craigslist seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure that you speak directly to the owner, insist on a test drive, and request any paperwork that the owner can provide related to the car.

Research Reliable Makes and Models

There are a lot of different cars for sale on Craigslist, and especially if cars are not your specialty, it can be easy to get talked into purchasing something that doesn’t meet your needs.

A great place to start is by searching for lists of the best used vehicles to buy. Many of the top automotive authorities compile yearly lists of the most reliable, reasonably priced models to look for.

Any time you plan to buy used, read up on reviews from Kelley Blue Book, Edmund’s, and other reliable car sites. They’ll be able to give you the pros and cons of any model, and they’ll let you know what price you should be paying.

Think carefully about what you need from your next vehicle. It can be tempting to jump into something quickly, especially if your current car is having mechanical issues,

But it’s important to consider your options. Do you have a family? Is it time for a larger vehicle? Have you been commuting a lot? Do you need to find something that’s more fuel efficient? Take a little time to make sure you find a used car that’s optimal for you.

Ask the Hard Questions

Though they may feel a little bit outside your comfort level, there are some questions that simply need to be asked when you’re going to purchase a used car from a private seller.

To reduce awkwardness, you can ask in advance over the phone or via email. Then, if you’re not satisfied with the answer you get, you can pursue the topic further in person.

However you broach the subject, make sure you ask these questions before buying:

  • Why are you selling?
  • What condition is the car in?
  • How many miles does it have?
  • Who did you purchase the vehicle from?
  • When can I test drive it?
  • Can I have a professional inspect it before agreeing to purchase?
  • What are you willing to sell it for?
Posted in find a used car