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What To Look For When Buying A Car From An Individual

Aug 17, 2007
When looking for bargains in shopping for a vehicle a lot of people choose to buy one from a private owner instead of going to a dealership or car lot. While this can save you a lot of money in many cases it also limits your options if you have problems with the vehicle and private parties are not subject to as stringent regulations like dealers are.

When buying a car from an individual the responsibility for being sure that they vehicle is sound mechanically is totally on you. I highly recommend that you take the vehicle to a mechanic to give it an inspection before you buy. It will be money well spent. If the owner has a problem with this, don't bother dealing with them. Anyone who is honest will not have a problem.

Another key issue to look out for when buying from a private party is whether or not the vehicle has a lien, which means that someone else actually has claim to the title due to money still being owed on it. If you buy a vehicle unknowingly that still has an open lien you may have to pay of the loan to obtain the title. This is another one of those areas where you have more protection buying from a dealer as they are required by law to ensure there are no encumbrances on vehicles they sell.

Be sure that you are dealing with the actual owner of the vehicle. Check their name against the title of the vehicle as well as their driver's license. Also be sure to ask for any repair bills and records of maintenance. This is especially crucial for high end vehicles such as Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus where the value of the vehicle is substantially tied to its maintenance record.

Remember that when buying a vehicle from an individual you are taking the risk that you could be buying from someone who has rebuilt a wrecked car, replaced an engine or transmission, or even rolled back the odometer. Usually you can tell if the odometer has been rolled just by looking at the numbers because they will be uneven.

With the recent hurricanes on the Gulf Coast another issue to watch out for is flood damage. Individuals can get away with selling you a flood damaged vehicle where dealers are liable for doing so.
You have to make the decision on whether or not the risks are worth the gain of saving a little money.
About the Author
Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida with his 16 year old son. Get car care products to keep your car looking new from http://www.shineyourcar.com
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