Craigslist is a source of many deals including cars, but when shopping for a newer car always remember buyer beware:
- DEALS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Some deals that a buyer thinks are local are really scams especially when they ask for money up front. These scams will often provide only an email and will involve the “shipping” of a car. DO NOT SEND OR PUT UP MONEY SIGHT UNSEEN.
- LOCAL DEALERS MAY OFFER GREAT DEALS; However when you go to see the car–oops! It was sold two days ago, and they forgot to remove listing. This is a bait and many times if you phone them or email them ahead of time, they do not answer.
- LEADER CARS. Often dealers who are using Craigslist more and more have “leader cars” to bring you to their lot. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just make sure it’s there and hasn’t been sold already.
- MAKE SURE TITLE IS CLEAR. This is important no matter where or from you, you buy the car. Titles can be impaired because the car was in an accident. A dealer should be upfront with you about this because it affects the value of the car.
- GET VIN NUMBER BEFORE BUYING. This will enable you to research the history of the vehicle. It’s important to do this even if car is listed by the owner because he/she could be second or third owner of the vehicle.
- “ BY OWNER” MAY BE IN BUSINESS. Many people are going to car auctions and they are not always large enterprises, some may buy 1-3 cars and fix them up themselves for resale. Many small lots and individual dealers are picking up hurricane vehicles, etc. Just because vehicle is listed as being sold by “owner,” doesn’t mean they were the original owner.
- ASK IF EVERYTHING ON VEHICLE IS “ORIGINAL.” If repairs have been made, ask to see what they were and when. Also, when dealing with the seller, ask them if you can have your mechanic go over the vehicle prior to purchase. If not, walk away.
- MAKE SURE YOU DRIVE VEHICLE PRIOR TO BUYING. Be wary when owner posts vehicle and shows it, but says that the car is out-of-gas and he/she has to fill it up, so you can’t drive it that day. This really happened! Can you imagine posting a vehicle and not having it ready to be driven?
- KNOW THE DEALER & GET INFORMATION. Ask friends, family, and even other dealers if they know whether or not the person you are dealing with is reputable. You would be surprised how other dealers not only know what their competition is like, but also know history of individual cars being sold in their target areas.
- SEE A GOOD DEAL, ACT ON IT IMMEDIATELY, some deals can be had from Craigslist and you have to act quickly; however, this does not mean you forego all of the steps listed above.