How to buy a used car from a private person

This is a summary of what you need to know to buy a used car from a person (and not a purchase and sale of trucks or concessionnaire auto occasion). You can also use many of these tracks to assess a car used by a dealer.

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  1. Make sure you have a budget clear and set aside the money needed. In contrast to a distributor who can help you with financing, a private seller waits for you to pay him in cash or with a check. Ideally, you should spend less than 30 percent of your savings in a truck. If you don’t have the money in cash, request financing, and get approval before talking with the seller.
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    Selects truck. Look through the classified ads of cars, including on Craigslist, AutoTrader and This should allow you to filter private sellers.
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    Search among the thousands of ads published by the people who want to sell them. The ad tells you much on the truck as well as the person who is selling it, both for what it says as for what it does not say. Among details have the advertisement, it will be easier for you to determine if the truck is a potential candidate to become a good business and if it is worth fixing a personal inspection with the seller. A detailed and descriptive ad will tell you that the owner of the truck is serious regarding the sale of truck and understands that the information is needed to really be considered as a possible option to purchase truck.
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    Get in touch with the seller by email or by phone at a reasonable time in the afternoon or in the evening. It’s not to call too late at night or very early in the morning. It is likely that the seller can not speak for a long time and does not tell you much about the truck.

    • When you call the seller to request information, keep a list of questions prepared. Check the model, year, brand, mileage, and the general condition of the vehicle. Question is why selling the truck. If the answers to your questions are satisfactory, an appointment program. It’s get together with him in a public area safe and reasonable.
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    Be punctual at the appointment. If you have to reschedule, she called to make arrangements.

    • In person, get a walk around the car and ask questions to the seller. Polls which problems may have experienced truck. Takes note of the damage to the truck body and the fluid leaks, if any.
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    Examines the pedal and the driver’s seat wear. Since the fraudulent alterations of odometers are not as common as they used to be, this will give you a good estimate of few kilometres the truck has been conducted.
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    Check the wear of the tires, especially the front. If wear is uneven, the truck will need to review and probably some adjustments (alignment, tires, shock absorbers, mesh, etc.).

    • With the truck off, shake the steering wheel back and forth. There should be more than one inch of play, and no noise and rattling metal. If so, the truck may need a new steering mechanism or a change of direction zipper.
    • For a front-wheel drive truck, check the joints CV (and bellows). If they are broken and losing oil, the bellows or the axle shaft need to be replaced. This may be the source of patters, and will also affect when making turns in the opposite direction. It is not a very expensive repair.
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    Check shock absorbers by pushing the cart down three times and dropping in each wheel. Truck must go up, down and stop. Repeat for all-wheel drive.
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    Examines under the panels of the rocker arms on the side of the truck to check corrosion. Once this starts, it is extremely difficult and costly to stop it.
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    Before testing the car, check coolant. It should not be Brown. You must not be empty the coolant tank or contain no Brown residue or sediments. A vacuum tank with Brown sediments is very likely be a leak of coolant inside the engine (a breaking of the gaskets or cracked cylinder head). This could a very expensive repair.
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    Check the soil of passengers to detect that there is smooth points (corrosion products), and compartments inside the trunk look for holes.

    • When you turn on the car, the engine must turn on quickly and easily.
    • When the sound of a car is not even, can be due to many reasons, from air hoses with leak at connected to old spark plug fuel filters. Not went down you the price to a single truck because it has an irregular sound.
    • When you drive the truck, brakes should not tremble, Squeak or creak loudly.Some squeaks are normal for disc brakes. The brake pedal should be firm but not hard.
    • An automatic transmission should change solidly. If you’re not sure about automatic transmission, make the change manually. There should be a small gap between moving the shift lever and gearshift, and the engine RPM should change quickly.
    • A manual transmission should be easy to change gear and the clutch must be seized near the ground.
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    Don’t forget to check reverse gear!
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    Make sure all electrical accessories to function: windows, locks, audio systems, seats opening keyless and alarm (if you have it installed).
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    Well check locks all doors (manual and automatic), windows, opening from the inside, from the outside, and closing.
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    Turn on heating (even if you are in summer) after a few moments of light truck. How much time you spend until it starts to heat?
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    Test air conditioning. Place a central vent in meat thermometer to check the temperature. 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) is very cold.
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    Drives the car as you normally would. This includes motorway, as well as driving in the city. It monitors the temperature of the truck.

    • With the truck parked but on, turn the steering wheel fully in both directions. A squeaking sound might indicate a problem in the power steering pump belt.Although this can be fixed with a simple adjustment, overheating caused by friction may have damaged the band and may be necessary to replace it. There should be a sound as “grunting”, since a sound could well indicate a low level in the fluids of the steering wheel, which can be easily confirmed by measuring the level. A low power steering fluid level may indicate a leak in the power steering system, which could be just a hose or a clamp, a readily accessible seal (in older vehicles), or a zip of address, which can be a very expensive repair.
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    Checks the level of transmission with engine oil up. It should smell sweet and have no visible sediment. A brown or burnt orange color indicates that it has not changed since a long time ago. A burnt odor may indicate a band of clutch slipped, which could require a transmission rebuild to correct it.

    • With the hood raised, let truck running with the air conditioning since. Listen and check near the radiator fan starts to operate. If there is no overheating, you must be working well. Do not approach the hands, since the fan can start and stop without warning (even if the truck is turned off for a short period of time after being hot).
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    After it, check the level of oil with the engine off. The black oil is not necessarily bad, but should not feel gritty. Check under the lid of the oil, it must be clean. The foam under the oil cap may indicate that you there is coolant in the oil and this may mean you have to make repairs to the engine which are expensive.
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    Examines the battery. If it looks old, it probably is, but batteries are cheap and easy to replace. If the terminals are corroded it may be an indication that the cart has been given little maintenance.
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    Check out the air filter. Whether it is clean or dirty, but if it is very dirty it can adversely affect both the performance and economy. For a paper filter, make sure that there is oil in it. Also check the side of the oil filter engine air inlet. Oil in the air inlet may be a sign of broken Pistons which mean many kilometers or much abuse.
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    Examine the body to determine if there are signs of accident repair.
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    Can take a small magnet with you. If the body is made of steel (some are fiberglass, as the Corvette, and others such as the Saturn are plastic thermoforming) and the magnet has trouble sticking, may be a sign that many “PuTTY” is used to make repairs to a damaged bodywork. Repairs of high quality, including the one of a body of a damaged panel, usually do not require a large amount of filling. The sound of the panel when struck lightly with a knuckle also can be revealing, as well as a look at a low angle that reveals waves if the paint is glossy. If repairs or damages are limited to a panel easily removed, your cost of repair may be substantially less than if the Interior support panels or the structure of the main body has been damaged. However, the proper paint can be expensive, but it may be worth the effort for a special interest vehicle. As noted above, be careful of oxide, especially which comes from the inside and extends outward from the panel.
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    If you like the car, get an offer. If possible, take the money in hand. If you have money to offer, it is usually easier to get a good deal than if you need then return with the money, since sellers are usually eager to put an end to the mess of having to sell your car. Another option is to go on the cart to your Bank and get a cashier’s check, even if this requires proximity to your Bank and get together with the seller at certain times.
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    If you close the purchase, gets the title of the seller. The seller must fill in a purchase invoice sale, indicating that the part A (including your telephone number and address) has sold the vehicle to part B (with their address and telephone number). If the police stops you on the way back home, this document will be a backup for you.

    • The person who is selling the truck is the best indicator about how truck led, remained and was repaired in the past. Since the odometer, although it tells you the mileage, not tells you how the car has been treated, what has been the history of repairs, must be you who extrapolate that information. An ideal vendor is a person who gives regular maintenance truck and can prove this with receipts as well as a history of repairs. In addition, if you have nothing to hide, it will be receptive to your questions and will be honest and truthful in the description both of the positive and negative aspects of the truck.


  • Get a Carfax vehicle report or report of autorevision if possible. Today, many sellers succeed as a tool for selling their cars. You can also pay you to get one. All you need is the VIN (vehicle identification number).
  • Use an independent source to determine the values at the level of wholesalers and retailers of the truck you want to buy. It is the price that the seller very similar requests or there is a very large unexplained difference in price?
  • Program an appointment with a professional mechanic so you inspect the truck. Even if you think you know enough trucks, it is always a good idea to obtain a second opinion. If the seller is offended with this, take it as a warning sign. If the seller has nothing to hide, you won’t have any problem with that has a review by your mechanic.


  • If you do not feel comfortable with the seller, the cart, neighborhood or anything else, you are not obliged to see, drive or buy truck.
  • If you live in a place (such as the State of California) that requires a control of emissions on the majority of vehicles, be sure that truck has passed this review before you buy it. Repairs to emission systems can be very expensive and any car which fails that inspection must be repaired before you can register it in your name.Also, much wear on internal engine components such as piston rings or valve seats can make that not passes the emissions control. Where you reside this type of control is not required, ask your mechanic to check the engine compression, which also helps to determine if there are problems with wear on internal components of the engine (this is especially worrisome for vehicles having more than 50,000 miles traveled).
  • Ask seller references and the respective documents of the vehicle to have the certainty that the car is legalized and that it is not a stolen vehicle.