There's a lot to consider when buying a used car. Beyond choosing the right model that fits both your needs and budget, you may need to find financing, and determine whether to shop at dealers or buy your car from a private seller.
Buying from an individual rather than from a car dealership has many advantages, though you'll want to do your homework before you buy. In this guide, we'll first talk through the advantages and disadvantages of buying from a private party, then walk step-by-step through the process of purchasing a private party pre-owned car.
The biggest single advantage of buying a car from a private-party seller is a potentially lower price. Because individuals don't have the overhead of a dealership, you can typically save money. Simply put, the playing field between a private-party seller and a buyer will likely be more level. Generally private sellers also have much more invested in the care of the car than a dealership.
Dealers have to pay staff to clean up cars and prepare them for sale. Private parties typically do so themselves, so those costs are not built-in to the price of the vehicle. Dealers may not have the urgency private parties have to sell, so they may not be as willing to negotiate.
While a dealer will spend time and effort trying to up sell you on costly extras, you don't have to worry about that pressure when buying in a private sale.
You'll want to weigh the advantages of buying from a private party with a few disadvantages. When you buy from a dealer, a salesperson or finance officer will typically take care of all of the paperwork for the purchase, the registration, title transfer, and financing. You'll never have to worry about helping the seller pay off their current loan. Of course, a dealership will typically charge for the services, though for many buyers the additional cost is worth it. A car dealer can also take care of your trade-in, and save you the hassle of selling your car yourself.
Auto dealers are typically required to comply with consumer protection laws and practices. Those protections don't exist with private-seller transactions. Nearly every private-party sale is an as-is purchase with the possibility of no warranty coverage, while you may be able to get some warranty coverage from a dealership. That's especially true if you're buying a certified used car, since certified models are only available from franchised new car dealerships. Many used car transactions are funded with financing arranged by an auto dealer. With a private-party purchase, you'll have to arrange your own car loan.
The good news is www.usedteslainventory.com and www.sellmyusedtesla.com can help you will all these processes to reduce the risk and extra leg work and the time taken to find and purchase a great used Tesla.
When buying from a private party, there are a couple of scams you need to watch out for.
When an unlicensed dealer acts as if they're a private-party seller trying to sell their own vehicle, the act is called curbstoning. It is illegal in most states. In general, you don't want to buy a vehicle from a curbstoner. If they’re going to lie about their dealership status, they also may be lying about the cars they're selling.
There are a few ways you can identify a curbstoner. If the seller seems overly familiar with the buying, selling, titling, and registration process, it’s probably because they’ve done a lot of selling. Most private sellers don’t do it that often. You can also do a Google search on their name and phone number. If it shows up on several used car listings, you'll have a good idea they're a curbstoner. Sell My Used Tesla requires anyone listing more than one car at any one time to confirm if they are a dealer or private party.
When you buy and sell cars, there's quite a bit of personal information that needs to be shared. If, however, the seller demands a host of private information other than what is required in this website to facilitate the transaction, it should be a red flag. It may be an indication they are trying to steal your personal information, rather than selling you a car.
Even when you agree to a purchase, you should be wary of sharing any additional personal information other than required on this website. While a lender may need your social security number, a car seller should not.
Sell My Used Telsa, will protect your private information and only share what is required to complete a sale or purchase and only with parties that agree to a sale, and we also require seller and buyer verification of personal details and address and proof of ownership.
Most buyers of used cars should only consider buying a vehicle that has a clean title. You should never pay for a car unless the seller can immediately transfer the title to you. Unless you're fully aware of what you're getting into, you should avoid vehicles with branded titles. A branded title can indicate that the car was salvaged, flood-damaged, stolen and recovered, or used as a taxi or police car. If the seller says they do not have a title, they may be trying to hide the fact the car's original title is branded. Sell My Used Tesla highly recommends you get a copy of the report and AI inspection report to be very clear of the ownership, history, estimated value and condition of the vehicle you are interested in buying.
When you're planning on purchasing from a private seller, if you are not going to pay with cash, it's critical you shop for a loan before you plan to buy. Not only will you not have a dealer to help you arrange financing, but your lender may have extra hoops you have to jump through for a private-party purchase.
To save money on financing, you'll want to shop for the right loan - just like you shop for the right car. The first step is finding lenders who make private-party auto loans, then applying for the maximum amount you think you might need for the purchase. You can always take less later, but you don't want to have to reapply if you need more money than you budgeted.
Your auto loan will likely come from a bank, credit union, or finance company. All have their strengths and weaknesses, and all will require you to fill out a comprehensive loan application. They'll use your loan application along with your credit score to determine whether they're willing to give you a car loan, and what the terms of that car loan will be. In general, you want to have the shortest loan term possible, with a low interest rate and monthly payments you can afford.
We can help you find finance now using our partner, Autopay .
No matter where you buy your next vehicle - whether a private seller, dealer, or even an auction - you won't ever get a good deal unless you get a good car. That means finding a used vehicle that fits your needs and is affordable to buy, operate, maintain, and insure.
Once you've narrowed down your choices, it's good to explore any online user groups devoted to the model you are considering. They can clue you in to features you might want and things that typically go wrong with the vehicle.
Be sure to check with your state to find out if sales taxes are charged on private sales. If they are, it's essential to include that cost in your budgeting. You can find that info here.
There's no reason to look at every used car in the marketplace. Instead, you want to contact sellers to start screening out cars you don't want and narrowing the field to vehicles that deserve a second look. There are several questions to ask the seller at this point. Some are designed to get information about the car; others are to test the honesty of the seller by gathering information you can verify on the vehicle history report.
Here are some questions you'll want answered before you buy, many of which are part of our listings :
· Has the vehicle ever been in a collision?
· If so, what damage occurred ?
· Do you have service records ?
· Are you the original owner?
· What's the car's mileage?
· Why are you selling the car?
· Has the car ever needed major mechanical repairs?
· Who has been driving the car? Has it been driven by a teen driver?
· When was the car last inspected?
· What is the car's title status?
· Do you still owe money on the vehicle?
· Do you have a vehicle history report I can read?
If you are satisfied with the answers you're getting it's time to take the next step. Sell My Used Tesla asks the sellers to answer many of these questions as part of the listing process, and most others can be answered by vehicle history report, valuation or the AI Seller inspection report.
A critical part of buying a used car is studying its vehicle history report.
You'll use the vehicle history report to see if there are any red flags in the vehicle's past, and to verify the information you received when you first contacted the seller. If what you see in the report differs substantially from what the seller told you, it's a good sign you should walk away. It could be that the current owner simply doesn't know about what happened with the car before they owned it. It could also be that you're working with an illegal dealer who is trying to unload a vehicle they know nothing about.
The most important parts of the report are reported accidents and the vehicle's title status. It's easy for sellers to move vehicles across state lines to blur their current title status, though the report should show the car's entire title history. Note that collisions and repairs that occurred recently won't immediately show up on a vehicle history report.
Unless you are an experienced used car buyer and owner, it is a good idea to avoid any vehicle with a salvage title, or one that shows flood or fire damage. Many lenders will not loan money for the purchase of vehicles with branded titles, and some auto insurance companies will not insure them.
It's now time to meet the seller if that is a possibility , to inspect the vehicle, and take a test drive. You'll want to meet in a public place, and not at their home or yours. More and more cities offer safe exchange zones, which are areas specially covered by video surveillance and monitored by police. If your city doesn't have one, choose a shopping area parking lot or another location with people around. For many reasons, it's a good idea to meet during daylight hours.
When you first inspect the car, you want to use almost all of your senses. It's a good idea to arrive early so you can listen to the vehicle as it rolls into the parking lot. Look for damage around the entire perimeter of the car and glance underneath. Rainy days and dark nights make it easy to hide dents and scratches, so the better the weather, the easier it'll be to perform a visual inspection. Test the lights, and know that a brake light that's not working might be something as easy as a burned-out bulb, or as expensive as a wiring harness that's been damaged by rodents. Look at the tires for both overall and uneven wear. Tires that have less tread on one side or another are indicators that something's wrong with the alignment or suspension.
Smell the interior for signs of mold, smoking, or pets. The scent of mildew may be evidence of flood damage.
Spend some time exploring the vehicle's interior before you head out on the road. You'll want to test every vehicle system. Even if it's the dead of winter, check the car's air conditioning.
Before your drive starts, ask to see the owner's drivers license. Take a photo of it and the car's license plate, then send it to a friend or family member. Give them instructions to call you if you don't send them a preset message in a certain amount of time. Verify the name on the seller's ID matches the name on the vehicle's registration. If it doesn't, you may be dealing with an illegal dealer, and you should walk away.
Most sellers are just trying to sell their car, but you have to protect yourself from people who might not be so reputable.
When you do head out on the road, once again, use all of your senses. Feel for vibrations that shouldn't be there and listen for unexplained noises. Unpleasant or musty smells coming from the vents may be indicators of deeper issues. Do the steering and brakes feel right, or do they feel unresponsive? Can you see what you need to see when you're comfortably seated behind the wheel? Watch for warning lights on the instrument panel.
If you are buying interstate and are not going to be able to test drive the car, then we suggest you get a vehicle inspection. We do provide a owner inspection via AI which is comprehensive, however you can also opt for an in person inspection. We recommend www.lemonsquad.com.
A trained inspector will know what to look for, and can put the vehicle up on a lift to thoroughly inspect its underside for leaks and damage. They can look for collision damage and check the quality of any repairs that were performed. If you give them a copy of the vehicle history report, they can check on any issues it highlighted. They should also be able to access vehicle recall information and check to see if the recall fixes have been performed. Some recalls, such as software updates, are hard for independent mechanics to verify. You may need to call Tesla Service or check the service paperwork for proof they were completed.
If the car is in good condition, the inspection will provide you with the confidence to move forward with your purchase.
If the car passes muster on the vehicle history report and test drive, it's time to negotiate a deal. Your research should give you a good idea of what fair pricing should be. Ask the seller what they want for the car. Sometimes car owners have an inflated sense of the value of their vehicles due to emotional attachments.
After they give you an opening number if its too high, counteroffer with your price, backed by reasons you think their price is too high. Your justifications can include the prices of other similar cars, issues that you found on the vehicle history report, or problems you identified on the test drive or inspection.
It's important to remember that buying a car is a business transaction. The more you can take emotion out of the equation, the better. You probably will pay more for the vehicle than your initial offer, and the buyer will likely take less than their advertised price. That's the whole point of negotiation.
Don't allow a seller to rush or push you. Remember you can always walk away. Sometimes you'll have concrete reasons to do so; other times, you'll just have a notion that something's not right. Listen to your intuition.
Getting the money to the seller can be more complicated with private-party transactions, especially if they still owe on the vehicle or you're taking out a loan. If they still owe money, you or your lender should send your payment directly to the lender to pay off the loan and allow them to release the title. Any funds in excess of their loan balance can be paid directly to the seller.
Many private sellers ask people purchasing cars to pay in cash, which is fine as long as you do so in a safe place and document their receipt of the money with a bill of sale. Some may accept a cashier's check, though savvy sellers will ask to accompany you to your financial institution so they can verify it's not forged. Unfortunately, forgery of cashier's checks is a significant problem.
If you are getting a loan to pay for the car, your lender may write you a check that you forward to the seller.
Some may make payments directly to the seller in the form of a check or direct transfer. Be sure to give your lender plenty of notice before you need the funds, and pay attention to their hours if you plan to buy on the weekend.
In cases where the previous owner still has a loan, and you're getting financing to buy the vehicle, most financial institutions can (and will want to) perform a direct transfer. That's generally a good thing, as both lenders will want to make sure all of the paperwork is in order before they move the money.
Sometimes it takes a private seller's lienholder several days to get the vehicle title after the loan is paid off. If that's the case, consider using an escrow service that will only release any remaining funds to the seller once you receive the lien-free title. Usually, however, you'll want to have the transferred title in hand the moment you pay for the car.
One of the most significant differences in purchasing a vehicle from a private seller versus a dealership is you'll have to work with the seller to ensure that all of the purchase, registration, financing, and title transfer paperwork is completed and filed.
The necessary paperwork you'll need to complete for a private-party car purchase includes the vehicle's title, which is signed over to you as the new owner. You need to have a bill of sale that's signed by both of you. It should indicate the transfer of the title and the payment for the vehicle. Many states require odometer disclosure statements and lien release information.
In some states, you'll have to pay vehicle taxes at the time you file your paperwork with the DMV. Some private owners will want to take the license plates off the car before you take possession of the vehicle. Before they do so, however, you must have your new registration paperwork in order, as it is illegal to drive without plates or a temporary registration tag on the vehicle. Sell My Used Tesla will help you create a sales agreement and all the required DMV docs needed to complete a sale/purchase, and a check list for the buyer for registering the vehicle in their name post the purchase.
A critical, yet often overlooked, part of a private-party car sale is auto insurance. Before you meet the seller to take delivery of the car, you will want to contact your car insurance company or agent. They'll want to know a bit about the vehicle, including its make, model, trim level, and VIN. They can provide you with a proof of insurance document for the car. There is also an option on Sell My Used Tesla to get quotes and purchase insurance for your new Tesla as part of the sales process.