Last month I wrote a post about the best way to sell your car on craigslist and receive top dollar. This week, we’ll talk about how to buy a car on Craigslist. Both these articles were born from our need to get a brand new automobile later we totaled our Suburban this spring.

Buying a car (or selling a car) on Craigslist is no easy feat. There’s a lot of less-than-honest individuals out there selling cars on sites like Craigslist, and a lot of people who are just living in a fantasy world about what their vehicle is actually worth and what the condition of their car is.

If you are taking a look at buying a new-to-you automobile and assessing Craigslist as a source for locating that car, here are some things you want to know to get the best possible deal on the ideal vehicle for you.

Tips for Buying a Car on Craigslist

1. Understand What You Need

Before you begin shopping, it’s crucial that you write down just what it is that you’re searching for in a car or truck. That might be as special as the make and model, for example, “I need a Honda Accord”, or as broad as”I need a mid-sized car”. Make a list of those parameters that you’re looking for in the car that you want, for example:

Size or type of the Car you want
Make(s) and model(s) you’re considering
Age of the Vehicle
Condition of the car
Mileage of the Automobile

2. Know-How Much You Need to Spend

It’s easy to get lured into paying more than you had intended when looking at all the cars offered for sale on Craigslist. First, you’ll start looking at cars in your budget. Following that, you are going to notice automobiles that are merely a few hundred more. Shortly, you’re going to be looking at cars which are a couple thousand more. Do not let this happen to you.

In order to prevent getting lured into paying more than you had planned to, set a company maximum price in your head before you begin shopping. Be certain to leave some room in your budget for some repairs/maintenance also when purchasing a used car. Used cars usually need at least a little bit of upkeep.

Before you’re able to buy a car of any type, you will need to understand whether it fits into your financial plan. Use a free online budgeting tool, such as Personal Capital, to track your spending and figure out if a new car is in your financial plan.

3. Do not Limit Your Options

When we started shopping for a replacement for our Suburban, we just looked at private party vehicles because of the simple fact that we generally do not expect dealerships as well as their jacked-up rates and pomp and circumstance sales tactics. Paradoxically, however, we ended up our hunt and purchased from a dealership. Don’t limit your choices by refusing to look at private party cars or dealership cars. Be cautiously receptive to purchasing from both.

4. Know the Value of the Vehicle You’re Looking At

Smartphones make it super simple to look up blue book worth of vehicles directly on the spot. Bluebook sites have parameters that cover each feature of a vehicle, mileage estimations, conditions, etc., to help you know whether the vehicle you’re contemplating is fairly priced. Never purchase a car without understanding the blue book cost of that vehicle.

buying a car on craigslist

buying a car on craigslist

5. Learn Somewhat About Automobiles

You do not need to become an expert, but it is important to know what you’re looking at when seeing a vehicle’s look and mechanical condition. If you do not understand a great deal about cars, bring somebody with you who does.

I was fortunate when I was in the dealership looking at the Suburban we purchased that my mechanic just happened to be working in the area. He made a fast 10 minute stop at the dealership and gave the car a quick once over so that he could give me guidance on what was not working correctly and how much it would cost to fix it. I was able to accelerate this procedure for him since I know a little about cars myself.

Little known random fact: In high school, my BFF and that I took little engines along with the two-year automobile mechanics class in order to be around the boys. We ended up enjoying the education and doing really well in the class, learning lifelong skills about automobiles.

Since I know a little about cars, I managed to have a list prepared for the brother of my worries about the vehicle and that which was not working properly, thereby making his job quicker and simpler.

6. Do Not Be Afraid to Negotiate

When I walked into the dealership to look at the Suburban we had found on the internet, I was somewhat nervous about the negotiation component of things. Rick was at work, so it was me. The asking price of the vehicle I was considering was $9,995. That was much more than the $9k we needed to invest. He came back with $8900 out the door. Sold! Just $100 below what we needed to invest, but we stayed within our budget and had cash left over to do the minor repairs the truck needed.

By using great negotiation tactics, you can save tens of thousands on the car you buy.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

We looked at a few cars which we just knew were not for us, for a number of reasons. It can be intimidating to inform a vendor you are not interested and to feel pressured to purchase a car that isn’t quite what you had in your mind. Do not give in to that pressure. Walk away and await the car that is ideal for you. The more cars you walk away from, the easier it’ll be to say”no” into a car that’s not right for you.

8. Exercise Safe Car Buying Tactics

As usual, when you buy from Craigslist, security should come first. Here are some suggestions for safe purchasing on Craigslist.

This goes for both women and men.

  • Do not bring cash if you are spending a lot. Rather, bring a cashier’s check in the bank that is made out to you and then sign it over to the seller. In our case, I attracted a cashier’s check for the majority of the cash I needed to invest and cash for the remainder, so I might be better equipped to negotiate on price.
  • Meet in a public area where there’s plenty of individuals.
  • Never test-drive an automobile with just you and the seller; bring a friend or 2.
  • Buying a car on Craigslist can be a major disappointment (we’ve had our share) or a fantastic success like we have had with the truck we bought 2 months ago. By putting the above tactics in place, you can help ensure you are going to have a fantastic car-buying experience.