Buying a car can be a time-consuming, confusing process, especially if you don’t know anything about cars. And while you probably wish you could just go to a dealership, pay the sticker price, and drive happily off the lot – doing so costs quite a bit of money, not to mention the immediate depreciation the investment takes as soon it leaves the lot.
Buying privately usually lends to more affordable prices, the caveat being you don’t fully know how the vehicle’s been treated. The last thing you want is to fork over thousands of dollars only to get a lemon in return.
So if you’re thinking about buying a vehicle privately, keep the following things in mind and then use CoverHound to uncover the very best in car insurance rates.
Meet in Public
Since you’re not dealing with an actual dealership, it’s advisable to meet the seller at a public location, just to be safe. After all, this person’s a stranger and you don’t know what they’re capable of. You’ll be in much safer hands with people around.
Meet During the Day
You should meet with the private seller during the day, to support the safety point above, but also to properly inspect the vehicle.
Know the Vehicle’s Approximate Value
You should know the vehicle’s approximate value before meeting the seller. Take advantage of internet resources like Kelly Blue Book to get a gauge for what the vehicle’s worth. At KBB, you can input the vehicle’s mileage, cosmetic condition, and specifications (all of which you should know prior to meeting the seller), as well as whether the vehicle’s being sold privately or through a dealership so you can get an accurate price range.
Get the CarFax
Checking the CarFax is actually an essential thing to do when buying a car privately. If you’re not familiar, CarFax is an online service that provides vehicle history reports on used cars. Though it’s important to note that not all accidents end up being reported to CarFax. Look for any inconsistencies in the car, such as paneling and color, to make sure there’s not a swept-under-the-rug accident in the vehicle’s history.
Let the Vehicle Idle
Start the vehicle and let it idle for 30 minutes. Is it making odd noises or overheating at all? Simply starting the car and driving it around is important, but you first need to inspect it while it’s idling.
Private Test Driving
Once you’ve run the car for a bit, take it for a test drive. After all, you want to know how it handles, right? As far as insurance goes, if you’re driving a private dealer’s vehicle, liability plays out similar to if you were to borrow a friend’s vehicle and crash it. So as long as the dealer gave you permission to drive their vehicle, their insurance should cover the damages. Make sure you take the vehicle for a substantial test drive; cruising around the block will give little context for its actual condition.
Take it to Your Own Mechanic
Once everything checks out on your end, take it to a mechanic (preferably one you’ve done good business with in the past) for an inspection. The seller might suggest taking it to their person, but mechanics aren’t always trustworthy, and you don’t know if these people are in cahoots with one another.
Buying a vehicle privately can be stressful, but if you follow the above precautions you’ll up your chances of making a worthwhile investment. Once you have your new set of wheels, scope car insurance rates at CoverHound.