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Wayneburg 02-18-2009 07:07 PM

Need Advice: Buying car directly from owner
I'm going to be purchasing a car in the next week and I was wondering if you all would help me with a few questions.

I've never purchased a used car directly from an owner before and I was wondering if any of you could give me some advice about doing this.

I'm a little wary about showing up at someone's house with cash on me for the purchase. Would it be advisable to show up with no money and then if I decide to buy the car, I would ask them to complete the transaction at my bank where I can withdraw the money to purchase the car?

I think it might be be a good idea to schedule a meeting at a public place that is convenient to the owner so I can look the car over and do a test drive. Maybe the parking lot of the bank.

Do you all have any advice on what to look for as far as signs of trouble with the car itself? I'd like to show up with a checklist of things to look for in order of priority.

Will I receive the keys and the title right when I purchase the car and drive away? Or do I have to inform someone that I now own this car? I assume I have to inform the DMV and my insurance company.

Anyway thanks for any advice you provide.


trikkonceptz 02-18-2009 08:25 PM

If you are not mechanically inclined I would bring a mechanic or mechanic friend with you to give a broad overview. If you are afraid to meet them at their home, the next best thing is find a garage nearby that does vehicle inspections and request that you both meet there. You kill two birds with one stone.

I was always taught that people do not sell cars because they are good, of course their are exceptions, but better to be skeptical. Just be prepared to drive home something that may need some attention in the near future, no used car is perfect.

Otherwise each brand vehicle has its qwerks, like rust in certain areas, notorious for this braking down .. etc.

So familiarize yourself with the vehicle you like then seek out a used one. Otherwise good luck.

As far as money is concerned, I always keep it it in multiple pockets that way I can negociate a lower price because the owner sees I have no more money after I go into one pocket. If that didn't work I reach into the second pocket and etc ... Bring small bills, like 20's, often the sight of money excites the seller and leads to a better desperate deal ... plus he sees you have it and would not want you to walk away.

bikin' Ed 02-19-2009 11:19 AM

title stuff
Find out the regs. in your state re: the title. In Ohio, a notary is supposed to witness the owner signing over the title. Without the notary, the other guy will still own the car. If the seller know that you are really serious (s)he may agree to meet you at a bank or even the DMV, so that after the test drive and such, all the paperwork can be handled.

Ryland 02-19-2009 04:58 PM

call your dmv and ask but normally a title signed by the seller is all you need then you normally you can drive it for the first 24 hours before you have to stop at the dmv, longer if it's the weekend.

When I buy a car I always bring cash and a 2nd person to help me drive it home, people who don't bring cash normally don't have cash, if you have cash in hand you can often get a lower price because they already talked to a long list of people who wanted to make payments or will comeback next week when they get paid, those people never come back.
I tend to do the same thing with putting say the $1,200 I hope they will lo
were their price to in one pocket, and the other $300 or whatever in my wallet.
I tend to feel less safe meeting someone in a parking lot then meeting them at their house, because I've told someone where I was going, I have someone along with me, their family is most likely home and so on so unless you are in a really rough area I would say you are perfectly safe.
as far as what to look for, study up on the car you are looking at.

Sparky 02-19-2009 06:13 PM

I'd echo the above post and add that having a mechanic with you or nearby is a good way to avoid buying a lemon, but isn't a guarantee. Knowledge is your friend...know everything you can...if you can get the VIN ahead of time, do a CARFAX on the vehicle.

Johnny Mullet 02-19-2009 10:18 PM

What kind of vehicle (Year/Make/Model/Engine) so some of us techs can tell you what to look for.

blueflame 02-20-2009 06:05 AM


We have a book called the 'dog and lemon guide' for car buyers to consult... but the $20 book is a lemon...

SuperTrooper 02-20-2009 12:47 PM

When you first contact the owner ask for the VIN and run it through CARFAX. It might be the best $30 you ever spent. Actually, I'd spend $40 and get unlimited CARFAX reports for a month.

SundaySarah 02-26-2009 10:10 AM

If you can bring a mechanic with you..that would be ideal. Otherwise, make arrangements with the seller to take to a mechanic. A couple more things---pay with a cashier's check and choose a car with complete service records if you can!

Ryland 02-27-2009 12:43 AM

I judge the seller as much as I judge the car, if they come across as someone I would loan my car to then I would buy a car from them, if they seem like the kind of person who would beat on it and drive it hard then you can bet i was.
I often don't have the vin number in front of me for cars I sell, if someone who wants to buy my car is a pain to deal with I'm not going to be as flexible with the price or anything else.

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