Unless you're loaded, buying a new car is never a fun or enjoyable experience.
Who can you trust? Do you know what to look out for? What if the car is a piece of junk?
Buying a used car online is especially stressful but it doesn't need to be overly complicated.
By keeping a few things in mind, you can stay safe and find the perfect car. Well, as perfect as it can get on a budget.
How to Buy a Used Car Online Without Getting Scammed
Remember when moms used to warn against meeting people online?
Somewhere along the way, it become okay to start trusting strangers on the internet.
Interacting with strangers has become almost second nature, but you still need to stay safe.
Buying a car is a big investment.
You want to make sure that the person you're buying from is being honest.
Fortunately, you can do that to the best of your abilities by keeping a few tips in mind as you do your online browsing.
1. Do Some Reconnaissance
If you're buying from a person online instead of a dealership, it might be worthwhile to do a few minutes of social reconnaissance.
Do their friends on Facebook seem to like them or do they get into arguments on all of their posts? Do they post aggressive updates or are they fairly laid back?
You can't get a 100% accurate picture, but doing minimal research could help you avoid meeting up with an aggressive or potentially unsafe seller.
2. Compare Prices on Multiple Websites
Do your research before you even make contact with the seller. You might think this isn't necessary if the price already fits into your budget, but you really should educate yourself.
Check Auto Trader, Craigslist, and Kelly Blue Book. Browse as many websites as possible to get an accurate idea of what the car should cost you.
Once you know that, you can take their price into consideration along with the car's current condition. Remember, you're going to sell this car yourself one day. Make sure it's not going to completely put you in the hole.
3. Stick to Your Budget
Just because you're not entering a dealership doesn't mean the seller isn't a good sales person.
Stick to your budget and try to negotiate on the price as much as possible.
If someone has a warm and inviting personality, it's tempting to cave when they tell you about how great the car is just before increasing the asking price. Don't budge.
4. Always Bring Someone with You
This seems obvious but you should always bring someone with you – even if you're meeting in a public place. When you go for a test drive, you don't want to ride in a car with just a stranger, right?
Not only does bringing a friend help ensure your physical safety, but it also helps keep your wallet safe.
A friend can step into your defense if the seller tries to swindle you or change the price. They also offer a third-party perspective on the condition of the car. It's easy to think you're getting a great deal if you're desperate for a new vehicle.
5. Check the Car's History Report
When it comes to tips for buying a used car online, this is probably the most important of them all.
The seller should have a CarFax report ready to go before you even show up. If they don't, you need to ask for one. Read through all the repairs and maintenance. Does anything look suspicious? Has the car had regular oil changes?
Don't Ever Let Your Guard Down
It sounds very pessimistic to say, "you can't trust anyone," but you really can't.
You need to protect yourself and your wallet at all times.
This doesn't mean you need to be overly defensive or aggressive, but remember, this is a business transaction – treat it that way.
As long as you remember that you're forming a business relationship with the person on the other end of the email, you can both have a cordial and safe experience by keeping these tips for buying a used car online in mind.