A good used vehicle is difficult to find. Are you actively searching for a used vehicle? What are your options? Today you have many options from the internet to traditional brick and mortar locations and more recently, millions of people flock to http://www.craigslist.org to buy cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles and more. Let me help you out and break down your options.
Internet-The internet is an awesome tool. It can do amazing things from help you pick colors to paint your house, to find a car online or order your coffee and have it waiting for you at your local cafe. There are many dangerous things about the internet as well. Millions of harmful people seeking to take advantage or find victims online. Many people find, pay for and ship used vehicles home from online sites everyday. Here is the big problem with that…you must rely on the dealer being honest with the representation of the vehicle. If your vehicle arrives and there are major cosmetic or mechanical problems there is little to no recourse for you. There is an advantage to using internet sites to buy a used vehicle; endless variety and price comparison tools help you find what you’re looking for at a price you can afford.
If you decide to buy online, be sure to cover all your bases and check the paperwork. Ask about a return policy or termination of the deal.
Private Owner-The private owner is a great source to purchase a used vehicle. They have intimate knowledge of the vehicle, it’s condition and service history. Don’t be afraid to ask the vehicle owner questions. The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask. Most of the time, you can purchase a used vehicle cheaper than buying from a dealer. That reason being, dealerships have costly overhead and are held to a higher standard by the state in which they operate. Dealers may also offer warranties on used vehicles. There is a word of caution when buying from a private owner: beware of the scam.
Most listings on classifieds websites are posted by “curbstoners”. Curbstoning is the act of selling a vehicle without a dealer’s license (illegal). In the state of Florida if you sell one or more vehicle, you require an auto dealer’s license. Why do these people curbstone? They do not or cannot comply with the strenuous requirements by the state. Curbstoners usually mask mechanical and cosmetic problems, turn back or replace odometers (illegal) and sell vehicles with open titles (illegal). Here are a few tips to spot a curbstoner:
- Search their phone number, if you find multiple posts featuring different vehicles; this person is most likely a curbstoner. Some honest private owners have multiple cars to sell, this will be different. This is a business for curbstoners so you may find up to 15 different vehicles for sale by this person.
- Public meetup spot. If the vehicle owner wants to meet at a local coffee shop, grocery store or drug store, be cautious. They don’t want you to know where they live, because when the vehicles fails they don’t want you coming back to their house. If the vehicle owner is honest and trustworthy they will offer you two meeting locations: their home or the local police department. Again this is the internet, so personal safety is most important. If a vehicle owner doesn’t want to you to come to their home its understandable. That is why every police department offers their parking lot/facilities as a meeting point for internet transactions of this nature. Curbstoners will not offer this option in fear that they may be arrested for the illegal activity they conduct. Convincing, yet generic reasoning for selling or generic vehicle history. Example “runs and drives good, cold A/C just need to sell it to buy my wife something else”. See not giving much information, this is a sign of true private owner: runs strong I maintained it meticulously, I just got a promotion at work (explains job) and I’ve had my eye on the new Toyota Corolla so I’m going to sell this vehicle and put that cash down on my Corolla. Tons of information and even a plan on what they intend to drive next.
- Google search their name, most curbstoners will not give you their real name. Some will give you the real previous owner’s name, others will give you an alias. Either way, search the name they give you if you can’t find their picture; they are most likely a curbstoner avoiding something.
There are honest curbstoners that will be upfront and tell you they are reselling the vehicle. If you had to deal with a curbstoner, this type is the safest to conduct business with. Private owners are good to deal with and you can buy a used vehicle for a good price. In the event something catastrophic goes wrong with the vehicle shortly after buying it, you have no recourse.
Car Dealer-A car dealer is held to a higher standard. Car dealerships must comply with state and federal requirements to maintain their dealer status. Dealers must have a physical location to conduct business from. They must also place a bond with the state in which they operate. Dealers must also hold a regulated limit of insurance coverage to protect the public. There are many regulations that dealers must comply with or suffer the consequences of penalties, fines, jail time and revocation of their auto dealers license.
There is a word of caution with dealing with a car dealership: some dealerships care only about turning the most profit they possibly can. This means they seek to purchase vehicles cheap and sell high; putting little to no expense in the vehicle. There are dealers that will buy a vehicle at auction cheap because it had a smashed fender, faded clear coat and a blown tire. They get the car to the dealership and replace the fender and tire with used parts, and wet sand the clear coat and put the car on the retail market for sale.
Most car dealers will be honest with their customers and do whats right. Here are a few tips to finding a good honest dealership:
- CarFax advantage dealer. A CarFax advantage dealer has unlimited CarFax searches. They won’t have a problem showing you a CarFax on every vehicle on the lot. Showing you the vehicle history on the vehicle is crucial.
- Repairs Made. If a dealer can show you the repairs they’ve made, replacing worn parts with new; the chances are they are not afraid of investing money in their inventory. This characteristic shows they care about the wellbeing of their customers and the integrity of their reputation.
- Straight forward and honest. When you ask a question of a any representative of the dealership and they give you a straight answer and keep eye contact with you, chances are they are telling the truth. If you ask a question and they are straight up and give you a definitive answer, you can trust that dealer. For instance if a customer asks “it has over 100,000 miles on it, has the timing chain been replaced” and if the dealer responds “we have not replaced the timing chain because we visually inspected it and didn’t see a need for replacement. We encourage you to take the vehicle to your own mechanic and if they decide it needs replacement we will replace your timing chain”. This is a dealer you want to deal with.
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