Looking for a used car online? It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of options to choose from when you’re picking a new car, but the most important part of the process is to learn the red flags to look out for when you’re looking to buy a good used car on Craigslist.

How to Buy A Good Used Car on Craigslist – Our Guide

1) Be Clear on What You’re Looking to Purchase

Whether you’re looking for a Toyota, Land Rover, BMW, or Tesla, be sure to define exactly what you’re looking for before you begin your search online. The best thing to do is be very specific with color, options/trim levels, and type of car. The more time you spend researching these cars, the more you’ll know about them. In the long run, this will help you notice if a car has been crashed, repainted, or if it has been maintained poorly.

2) Call the Seller Before Meeting Them

On top of trying to avoid getting screwed when looking to buy a good used car on Craigslist, you also need to watch out for your safety. Before you meet the person selling the car in an obscure parking lot, be sure to call them and talk to them on the phone. If you get the wrong impression over the phone or feel uneasy about the trustworthiness of the seller, back away. There are plenty of cars you can buy.

Also be sure to let the seller know you want to have the car inspected at a dealer before you purchase. Ask them if they would be okay with you taking their 2009 Toyota Camry to the local Toyota dealership for them to perform a PPI (Pre-Purchase Inspection or Buyer’s Inspection). A PPI at most dealerships will run you anywhere from $45 to $130 (depending on the brand), but it’s well worth the money you’ll be spending. In the long run, getting a PPI on a car before you purchase it could save you thousands in repairs.

3) Be Ready to Negotiate

Every seller on Craigslist is different when you’re looking to buy a used car. Some people will price the car as low as they will possibly go and not fool with negotiations. Other sellers on Craigslist will price the car a few thousand above their target number hoping that you will either pay the higher amount or start negotiations with them. No matter what, never (and I truly mean NEVER) start a negotiation with the phrase “what’s the lowest you’ll take.” If you’re serious about buying, make a serious offer.

If you’re trying to find out what a fair purchase price is, look at the average price of the cars listed on Craigslist. Most sellers will come down about 10% if they’re priced a bit over. Likewise, some sellers won’t budge at all, and some will come down more. The best thing to do if you’re looking to buy a good used car on Craigslist at a fair price is to do some research on the cars you’re looking for. See what other people in your area are asking for them, and make a fair offer. If the price isn’t right, walk away.

4) Ask Questions

Ask tons of questions about the car. If anything seems off when you’re looking at it in person, ask about it. If the person selling the car on Craigslist gets defensive or shows signs of lying, reconsider your options. The whole process of buying a car can take time, so be sure to do research online to find out about common problems, recalls, maintenance costs, and consumer reviews about the car.

Buying a used car with the help of the internet and a dealership performed PPI can help save you thousands when buying a used car. The biggest part of this is to be sure that you’re buying a mechanically sound car from a trustworthy seller. By doing this, you’ll be able to buy a good car on Craigslist without getting completely screwed.

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