Buying Wisely from an Independent Car Seller
You’re in the market for a new car, and you’ve been cruising every available avenue you know of: local dealerships, Craigslist, and the classifieds. A used vehicle from an independent seller has caught your eye, but you’re hesitant because you’ve only bought from dealerships before.
There are some important considerations in this kind of situation. Where a dealership usually has comprehensive information on all of their used vehicles, including CarFax reports, you often have to hound an independent seller for these details. Dealerships will typically fix maintenance issues on vehicles before reselling them, and will be up front about problems if they still persist. Trusting a seller you don’t know can be difficult, and it may be in their best interest to hide a problem before money is exchanged. You might not realize that they’ve unloaded a lemon on you until it’s too late.
Knowing the right questions to ask can help you to get the best deal from an independent sale. Cox Mazda offers some great tips on dealing with independent sellers on their blog. The key thing to know is, if the seller tries to withhold information or seems to be untruthful, it’s a good idea to take your business elsewhere.
- Ask “What’s your reason for selling the car?” Knowing this can help you understand the circumstances and if the buyer wants to unload the car quickly for the money, or can stand to wait a bit. If the former is true, you can probably ask for a lower selling price.
- Ask about the condition. You can use this as a good indicator of how honest the seller is. If they say it’s in “excellent” condition, this can be a tipper that they’re trying to gloss something over or that they’re setting too high of an asking price. If they say that it’s in “fair” condition, or they hesitate, this might be an indicator that they’re trying to sell a lemon.
- Ask if it’s okay to have the vehicle looked at by an independent mechanic. If they’re being honest, they shouldn’t have a problem agreeing. If they hesitate, this might be a sign that they’re hiding something.
- Take it for a test drive. If the seller is confident in their vehicle, they won’t mind you taking it for a spin. 30 minutes is usually adequate.