When it comes to buying used cars in 2016, you have a few different options. You could buy from one of those online car websites, but why on earth would you buy a car without being able to inspect it first? Simply taking someone’s word for it is a bad idea, especially since you’ll likely never meet the salesman or saleswoman you’re chatting with online. You could buy one from a dealership, and get a small loan to cover the cost of a used vehicle to pay it back monthly. If it’s cheap enough, you might be able to buy it in one shot.
Then there’s the third and final option, which is buying from a private seller. While the cheapest out of the three options, it comes with many risks, some that could potentially even be life threatening. Therefore, we’ll explore this avenue of buying from a private seller, and see if the risk is worth the reward.
From a Private Seller, You’re Buying Used in “As-Is” Condition
When you look on Craigslist and drive to someone’s house, you’re going to be buying the vehicle in “as-is” condition. What does this mean? Simply that when you buy that used vehicle, you’re agreeing to deal with any problems that might pop up, and the repairs that need to be done.
See, unlike a dealership, a private seller isn’t required to tell you about any recalls on the car, accidents it’s been in, repairs it needs, or safety issues it’s had. All of which can be potentially life-threatening issues. What if the transmission blows-up on the highway when you’re attempting to merge and you get hit by another vehicle? Or if you do get in a collision, what if the airbag malfunctions, because the seller decided to ignore the recall on his vehicle and never got the problem fixed?
It sounds downright shitty, if you’ll excuse my language. But, that’s the reality of the situation. A private seller isn’t legally obligated to disclose any issues with the vehicle, even if they are life-threatening. It’s all on your shoulders to determine if a car is safe to buy or not, and unless you know how to research a used car model for recalls or common issues, or are savvy when it comes to inspecting it, you could miss a potentially life-threatening problem.
Even if the issue isn’t so extreme, the seller still isn’t responsible for repairs on the vehicle, which means your cheap purchase just turned into an expensive one, depending on the problem.
Find a Reliable Used Car at a Dealership
With a used car dealership, you might dish out a little more money for a used car, but you can find one that isn’t being sold in “as-is” condition. You might even be able to scoop up some warranties. While it’s still good to inspect the vehicle, you don’t need to worry as much about serious issues, simply because dealerships aren’t allowed to sell vehicles with life-threatening problems. Not to mention, unless you buy another “as-is” vehicle from the dealership — where most of the rules mentioned above with the private seller still apply — then you’re guaranteed to get some sort of compensation if an unexpected issue arises that violates the contract.
The verdict? While it might save you some money compared to buying from a dealership, buying from a private seller just isn’t worth the risk. Especially since a mechanical repair could be the least of your worries if something dangerous goes wrong on the road with that vehicle.