Checklist for Buying a Used Car Privately

Howdy, Driver? Whether an old car owner or new, this checklist for buying a car is for you. It is very easy to get your hands on the wrong car, either a legalized stolen car, a rebuilt salvaged car, VIN cloned, or a curbstoned Car.

Checklist for buying a car privately

Moreover, it is advisable to hire a car inspection agency or an expert to inspect the car. But then, having the basic knowledge of what to check in a car before buying could be helpful. An inspection agent may not always be perfect, which means your knowledge plays a huge role when buying a used car.

In this article, I indicate just 8 things to look out for in a car before buying. If the car in question is used, also follow this list of things to check when buying a used car.

Meanwhile, you should read my secret tips to beat the salesman.

Checklist for Buying a Car

1.   Crosscheck the Features You Need

Following your arrival at the dealer store, take a look at several cars, if possible. I believe you researched and read reviews concerning the car you want to buy.

Walk around the parked cars (if the seller is not a private seller), take a look at the interior and exterior of the cars available. If the seller is a private seller of multiple cars for sale, it is a sign that they could be a Curbstoner.

Private sellers can only sell a limited number of cars yearly. If the number of cars exceeds the acceptable number of cars a private seller can sell in your state, it may be their tactic to evade sales tax on cars. Also, such a seller is unlicensed and can sell you an open title car, washed title, or even sell you a stolen car.

Note: Focus on the car you reviewed lately. However, do not hesitate to glance at other cars.

Recent studies show that it is smarter not to appear confused or too new when buying a car. Looking confused would be an impression that gives the seller more room to attempt to extort from you or sell you an illegal cloned car which you should learn to spot a cloned car.

2.   Ask Questions

While studying the car for sale thoroughly, question the seller. It is advisable to question the expert you have around. Do not hide what bothers you with the thought that it is minor.

Understand that the details you can gather go a long way in helping the inspection agent too.

Ask questions about anything unusual in the car and find out why it is so.

The questions you should ask before buying a car should include transmission type, drive type, engine type, title availability, and odometer mileage.

3.   Find Out About the Vehicle History Report (VHR)

Any used car checklist will contain recommendations for vehicle history check. If you have an expert or an inspection agent with you, do not bother much about this. The professional will run the check and explain the information to you if you have no idea.

In cases where you are buying a used car privately, it’s easy to run a vehicle history check. Sites like VehicleHistory, Carfax, and Vincheck offer a free full vehicle history report which you might want to check out.

You would want to be careful because if the car you are buying is involved in VIN switching, the vehicle history report will be false.

Meanwhile, for the fuller vehicle history report, you may have to pay. The cost of running VHR could be anything between $30 and $55.

Some of the details VHR reveals include:

  • Title status
  • Mileage
  • Accident history
  • Foremost owner

To find out the VHR of a car, visit any of the VIN inspection sites above, enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and confirm the vehicle information.

The VINs on a car can appear in various places. Some of the places on a car that the VIN could be imprinted are the lower left part of the dashboard, the windshield, the engine block, the window side of the driver’s seat, rest wheels, and the back of the mirror.

Further VHR Recommendation

In cases where the said vehicle is a used, request registration papers from the seller. Visit any of the VHR websites and input the VIN found of the vehicle. Confirm and ensure that the VHR provided online corresponds with that of the seller.

4.   Valuation of Car

As a checklist for buying a used or a new car, valuing the car is important. If you are new to buying a car, I believe you researched the value of the vehicle online already. Otherwise, allow the professional you hired to determine the fair market value of the car.

The expert will value the car using the VHR as well as other notable features in the car.

5.   Check Registration Documents

If it’s a used car, one of the things to check when buying a used car is the car registration papers. With the appropriate papers in place, it is easy to determine the genuineness of a car, although a scrupulous seller or a dealer can use a fake title, fake bill of sale, fake license plates/tag, and even fake insurance card to deceive you.

Even if you do not follow every procedure in this guide, endeavor not to pay for a used car without the original registration documents. Request the bill of sale, or invoice to serve as proof that you bought the car.

For a brand new car, you will only get the vehicle receipt after purchase.

6.   Check Car Mileage

Car mileage is vital in the checklist for buying a used car. It is important, especially when you are buying a used car online or from an unlicensed seller. During car valuation, the mileage is one of the determinant factors and you should as well be aware of it.

checklist for buying a car

Details concerning the car mileage can be extracted from the odometer. However, it requires some form of technicality to arrive at the correct mileage.

Unless you are an expert, I recommend letting a professional run the check on your behalf. Also, if you want to test your mileage reading skills, attempt to see whether you can arrive at the correct mileage.

7.   Take the Car for a Test Drive

As an old-time buyer or a new time buyer of a car, test driving is an ideal thing to do. However, if you have only had a few months of driving experience, it would not be advisable for you to test drive the car privately.

The reason is that you are less likely to understand the entire mode of operation of the vehicle. A professional should do the test drive while you seat with them in the front to learn.

If you are experienced, look out for the following:

  • Transmission system
  • Ensure it doesn’t overheat
  • The steering responsiveness
  • Shock absorber functionality
  • Check the shaft by attempting a speedy turn while driving

Meanwhile, you could test drive a car without buying it, only that is time-wasting for a salesman.

8.   Scrutinize the Car One Last Time

After the test drive, give the car a final inspection.

Check the cargo room, the headlights, confirm the bumpers, and look around gently for damages on the frame of the vehicle. Do not hesitate to inform the seller of any taint. Finally, check the spare tire and inspect the undercarriage of the vehicle.

If any part appears too rusty, take a closer look and confirm that there is no damage to it.

Final Thoughts

With this guide, you do not require what to look for when buying a used car checklist PDF. This article has covered the basic things to check when buying a car and needs to hire a professional to ensure you get a good car for the value of your money.

While going for a used car, stay very conscious and focus. Every available detail on the vehicle matters.

If you should forget anything from this checklist for buying a car, don’t forget the Vehicle History Report (VHR).

Read Also: Steps to buying a car for the first time.

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