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Old 03-17-2006, 03:40 PM   #1
Jojos ZTS Focus
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How to buy a used car you already found (a bit long)

I was helping my sister through the steps of buying a used car from a private seller. The prices are for explaination and the tax/costs are examples and YMMV.

It is a bit long so I recommend that you print it to read it easier. Also, if you find any other hints, tips, what to look for, or errors, please let me know and I will make the edits.

-Jojo

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WHAT TO DO WHEN BUYING FROM A PRIVATE SELLER

PRINT THIS FOR EASIER READING

Ok, first off, make sure you want this car and that you will be happy with it.
Ok, first things: Once you found the vechicle and talked with the owner, DON'T BARTER WITH THE PRICE RIGHT NOW.

For price research, search the internet for the same year, same model and mileage to see what other cars are selling for. If you find them cheaper, make sure to let the guy know. If you find them more expensive, don't say anything to him. WWW.KBB.COM WWW.NADA.COM

First thing, call a mecanhic shop!

Tell the seller you are test driving the car to a mechanic's shop for an inspection and that you will be gone at least 3 hrs (your mechanic can tell you the exact time needed for the inspection when you call them)

Take it to the mechanic shop (call ahead to make sure they can fit you in that day you are test driving your car) and have them do an inspection of your car. Tell them what you are doing, buying a used car, and you want them to inspect the following;

Engine, looking for leaks, unsual wear and tear, cracks,

Hoses, looking for leaks, cracks, bad hoses, coolant leaks, AC does it work etc?

Fluid Levels, make sure transmission fluid is good, coolant is good, no leaks

Suspension, make sure the brakes are good, rotor and drums are good, make sure the tie rod, ball joints, and rubber boots are all in good condition.

Exhaust, check the pipes, muffler, cataltic converter, headers are all in good shape and not rusted. (shouldn't be an issue in California)

Have them check the tires, do they need replacing? Have them check the filters, (air) Does it have power windows? If so, have them check the power options and fuses.

Have them check the body for any body damage or bondo. (In case this car was in an accident and covered up with body work) (This isn't manditory, and if mechanic charges extra, you can skip this)

Your mechanic shop shouldn't charge more than $100-150 for the inspection. If they do, find another place. Make sure to agree on cost of inspection first on paper then pay when they are done inspecting. Make sure to get an itemized list of repairs and maintenance issues with the cost of each item on it to show the seller.

Next, go back to the seller, Now he is offering the high ball price (for example $4800, blue book is $4700 and you want to buy at $4300) Tell him you need to put "X" amount into the car for repair issues, show him the invoice of the auto mechanic list and that he should lower the price. Tell him you will pay $4400.

(If this is a possibility for you) If you can, have a bank cashiers check for the amount of $4200 with you and about $600 in cash. Bring a trustworthy male friend with you for safety, but don't show yoru friend the money. He will counter with his offer of $4750, and then you tell him the dramatic costs of repairs and offer him $4500 and show him the check and the $300 and TELL him that is the final offer.

If he doesn't accept, then tell him you are walking away. (maybe show him local used car ads with nice cars at the same price range) There is the chance he will see the money and be happy to finalize the transaction. (Skip ahead to FINALIZING THE DEAL part)

If he budges only a bit after you told him your final offer and he still wouldn't take it (for example, $4600) perhaps barter some more to get to $4550? Get him down as low as possible, and once you are happy, then agree with a handshake and a document showing the final price.

REMEMBER THAT IF YOUR REPAIRS ARE QUITE EXPENSIVE, IT IS BEST TO WALK AWAY.

FINALIZING THE DEAL:

In the secenario that you only have the deposit money;

Once you have agreed on the final price, GET THAT ON PAPER. Get the date, your name, his name, the car (with the VIN number), the final price out the door, and what date you will be paying him on two pieces of paper. Sign and date both sheets and have him do the same. Note on that sheet whether or not the deposit money and how much down is refundable or not. Also note that the deposit is going towards the purchase of the car. Before you pick a date for pickup, make sure you WILL have the funds available to pay him, especially if the deposit is non-refundable. Keep one copy for you, the other for him. (For ease, perhap create a word document with some blank lines to fill in with the information and print to blank copies out to take to fill out when putting down your deposit.)

Also, get a reciept of money transferred for the deposit (with date)

This document is important in my eyes, First, it garantees that you will be buying this car on that date for that amount. Not a bad idea to write the mileage down on that paper too to make sure it isn't driven around between your handshake and when you pick up the car. Second, if for some reason the car is damaged, or changed in anyway (not likely but possible), you have a legal document that you can take him to court if you don't get your deposit back. Likewise, he can keep your deposit if you fail to pick up car on such a date. Make sure to write it down on that paper what happens to your deposit if you don't come through with the cash or change your mind.

Ok, now that you have a sheet of paper showing that you are going to pay "X" amount on "x" date for a certain car, then simply go back and pay him the money. Get a reciept showing paid in full with his signature and date on it. Not a bad idea to write the VIN number on the reciept as well.

When he goes to fill out the back of the title, ask him to put a much smaller selling price in the title. (For example, you buy the car for $4500, ask to put $1200 as the selling price.) This is used for when you go to register the car with the secetary of state, you will only pay $1200 on taxes. (In michigan, tax on 1200 is $72, tax on $4500 is $270) It saves you a little bit of money.

Next issue, which you can clear up before you pick up your car, is insurance. Once you decided you want this car, get the VIN number and call your insurance. Tell them what insurance coverage you want (since you paid cash in full, you can get the cheapest available) and have them prepare the paperwork. Most insurance companies can fax you a copy of your insurance coverage so you can place it in your car, otherwise you will have to go in to your agent. You will also need this when you go to secretary of state as they need proof of insurance when registering your car.

Finally, you have to go to the dreaded DMB. (Insert expletives here) You will have to pay registration fees, possibly a license plate fee or transfer fee. You are looking at around $50-$200 for this.

Then get the windows tinted and look good driving your new ride.



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This isn't a comprehensive list, your experience may be different, actually this was an email I sent my sister to help her along and I figured others may find this helpful.


Jojo


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Old 04-02-2006, 06:07 PM   #2
Svtzx555
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I'm a mechanic and I buy/sell cars way too often. Most of this is good stuff for first time buyers though. Although, when someone tries to lowball me I just tell them its not for sale anymore and won't deal with them. I usually offer my cars pretty low, just to hurry up and sell.

I sold my wife's Eclipse for an asking price of $3400. The guy asked if I would take $3200. I told him that was fine, I just wanted to hurry up and get rid of it so I could get her the ZX3 she has now. Well there was a small belt squeak and then he said that if I couldn't take $50 off the 3200 he wouldn't take the car....I started walking away with the keys and said, "Here you go. The 3200 is in here." and he handed me an envelope with $3200. He also tried to get me to lower the price on the bill of sale. I refused. I don't do that. Seems kind of risky...

Always offer lower than what they are asking. They anticipate for you to do that so they will usually lower the price a couple of hundred so you both feel like you got a deal.
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Old 04-03-2006, 07:16 AM   #3
Jojos ZTS Focus
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I know what you are saying Svtzx555,

I've had enough experience shopping for cars and do enough research to know the true value of a car. However in this case, my sister doesn't know squat about a car.

Also, for some reason people selling private party cars (typically the one the own and drive) then to mark their prices higher because they believe thier car is worth so much more. That is why I told her to offer something low.

If that guy tries and sell her a car for blue book value with a lot of known defects or belimishes, shame on him. Some people out there want the most out of thier car, others like yourself and me would just give a fair honest price to sell quickly and I would be willing to reduce a few hundred if it makes it sell faster. All the formalities about signing a buyers sheet and that stuff is more for her not to get taken by some scam artist. Anyone willing to do the extra work when buying a car from me is fine with me. It shows that they really do want to buy the car and doesn't leave me hanging if they fine something else.

Thanks for your input.

Jojo
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