When dealing with a private seller, buyers should ask questions, get a vehicle history report, pay for a mechanic's inspection and research the value to get a good price. Being proactive protects the investment and helps the buyer avoid a bad deal.
Vehicles sold by private parties are typically sold "as is," meaning the sale does not include a warranty, and the seller does not promise to make any repairs. Even if the vehicle is still under the manufacturer's warranty, this may not transfer to the new owner.
The buyer should do research before making the purchase to make an informed decision. Asking questions about the vehicle before meeting with the seller helps determine if the vehicle is a good match. Potential questions include mileage, condition, the seller's reason for selling, where it was purchased, past maintenance history, crash history and whether or not the seller allows an inspection by a mechanic.
A test drive is important when buying a used vehicle from a private seller. For safety, it is smart to bring along another person, especially if the seller is a stranger. Meeting in a public, neutral location to see the car is also a safe decision.
Researching the Blue Book value of the vehicle helps the buyer make a reasonable offer. Asking detailed questions about the condition and features of the vehicle ensures an accurate Blue Book calculation before meeting and negotiating a price.