Do your Research
Before you begin your search for your car, do plenty of research about the type of car you want. Discover what the car usually sells for and any problems other people have had with the car, including any recalls.
Beware of Low Prices
Cars posted for sale with ridiculously low prices that are well below market value should send up a red flag. Sellers tend to always have a reason for such prices. They are being deployed or someone is sick or has died, and they need the money right away. On the other hand, the seller may want to get rid of the car because he wrecked it or the car has had lots of mechanical problems.
The pictures that are posted may be stock photos and not that of the actual car. Always, always be careful when the price is too low. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Research the Seller’s Information
If you are buying from an individual, you can search for that person on the internet, too. You can also check dealer ratings. Research delivery options. Another big red flag is someone who refuses to communicate with you in person.
Make sure you see a Title
Ask the seller to send you a photo of the title and a photo of the VIN plate on the dash. When you look at the pictures, make sure the person who is selling the vehicle is the person on the title and that the title’s VIN matches the one on the dash.
If you are unable to view the car yourself, have a reliable inspection done by someone other than the seller or dealer. Ask for photos of any damage that the inspector may see and for a check of the odometer reading to make sure the seller has given you an accurate number. If the seller won’t allow an inspection, walk away.
Ask for a History Report
Dealers will have access to histories of their vehicles if it has been serviced. Ask for copies of maintenance records to prove that the car has been regularly serviced such as oil change. If the seller refuses to give you a copy of any of these records or gives you excuses why they can’t be produced, don’t buy the car.