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Purchasing a used car is a savvy way to get a great deal on a used vehicle. When buying a used car, you may spend as little as 20% to 30% of the original price of the car, while still getting a reliable vehicle that has plenty of life.

While shopping for a used car, doing your due diligence will ensure that you pay a fair price on a car that is free of unforeseen mechanical issues or other problems.

As you’re shopping for your next ride, keep in mind that used car lots sell cars at an extremely high profit. Rather than paying a premium at a used car dealer, you can get an even better deal by purchasing a vehicle directly from the owner.

Craigslist is the best way to connect directly with car owners. Through Craigslist, you can conveniently browse a vast inventory of vehicles to find a car that is the perfect fit for your driving and lifestyle needs. To help you prepare for your next purchase, here are a few things not to do when you’re buying a car off of Craigslist.

Neglect to make sure that the title is in the buyer’s name

When you’re purchasing a car off of Craigslist, verify that you are buying directly from the car owner. While Craigslist is typically a platform where car owners connect directly with buyers, some used car dealerships and shady individuals attempt to take advantage of this marketplace by selling salvaged vehicles or cars that are owned by other individuals.

In fact, some used auto lots will drive their vehicles off of the lot to a private location, just to make the transaction seem like it is a private sale. 

To avoid getting taken advantage of by disreputable sellers, it is essential to check the car’s title as your first course of action. Before you start your test drive or walk around inspection, be sure to ask the seller to provide you with proof that they are the title holder. Once you’ve confirmed that the person selling the car is the legal title holder, you can continue with your test drive.

Agreeing on a place to meet

As you’re chatting with a car seller on Craigslist, you will want to make careful note of where the person would like to meet you. Meeting in a neutral space, such as a public parking lot, may seem like a good idea. However, arranging an inspection at the car owner’s home will give you important insight into the care and condition of the vehicle.

Once you’re at the person’s home, you can check to see whether the car has been housed in a garage or parked on the street. The seller’s home environment can also give you a sense of whether they are a reputable seller in the first place.

By confirming the address of the seller, you will also have additional recourse if the car that you purchase turns out to be a lemon, after all. Remember that there are laws in place that govern the condition of used cars, so knowing the true identity of the seller will protect you after the sale.

Skip a trip to the mechanic

One of the most important steps that you should take when you are purchasing a car off of Craigslist is to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic that you know and trust. It is easy for a car seller to say that their mechanic has deemed the vehicle to be in good driving condition, but you should never take the seller at their word. Instead, offer to have your mechanic perform a thorough inspection of the vehicle before you go through with the purchase.

If you’d like to do a preliminary inspection on the fly, you can also choose to bring a scan tool to your meetup. A scan tool is a simple device that costs less than thirty dollars. By plugging this tool into the car’s data port, you’ll be able to determine whether there are any detected trouble codes in the car’s computer.

After you’ve confirmed that the car’s title is in good shape and it is mechanically sound, you’ll be ready to buy the vehicle and drive away knowing that you’ve gotten a great deal on your purchase.